Wright State renal physiologist Clintoria Williams receives prestigious kidney research grant

Clintoria R. Williams, an assistant professor in the Department of Neuroscience, Cell Biology and Physiology, received the 2022 Carl W. Gottschalk Research Scholar Grant through KidneyCure.

Clintoria R. Williams, Ph.D., an assistant professor at Wright State University, is the recipient of the 2022 Carl W. Gottschalk Research Scholar Grant through KidneyCure.

KidneyCure is the foundation of the American Society of Nephrology, whose mission is to prevent and cure kidney diseases through research and innovation.

Williams is an assistant professor in the Department of Neuroscience, Cell Biology and Physiology in Wright State’s College of Science and Mathematics and the Boonshoft School of Medicine. She is also the director of the Small Animal Physiology Core at Wright State.

The prestigious KidneyCure grant will allow Williams to continue making an impact in the renal field by supporting her research aimed at identifying novel therapeutic approaches effective for chronic kidney disease (CKD).

Many CKD patients exhibit zinc deficiency, and Williams’ research aims to fill critical gaps in therapeutic knowledge of zinc supplementation and mechanistic understanding of zinc-sensitive kidney pathways.

“Our published work provides evidence that disruption of zinc homeostasis promotes kidney damage and suggests that zinc repletion may slow CKD progression,” she said. “Our preclinical studies will not only provide critical therapeutic and mechanistic insights but also promote rapid translation, as zinc supplements are widely available.”

In 2019, Williams earned international acclaim when her research linking zinc deficiency to kidney dysfunction and high blood pressure was published by the American Journal of Physiology – Renal Physiology and she was featured on the cover of The Physiologist Magazine, which named her among the “now” generation of scientific researchers.

She was also recognized with a Faculty Award for Excellence in Early Career Achievement in 2020 by Wright State and with the Renal Section Young Investigator Excellence in Research Award in 2021 from the American Physiological Society.

Williams’ passion for science developed at a young age. While attending Clark Atlanta University, her exposure to undergraduate research provided a transformative experience that sparked her interest in biomedical research. She enjoyed discovering how molecular and cellular mechanisms provide insights into pathological events.

Williams received her Ph.D. in cellular and molecular physiology at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, where she began studying the relationship between zinc to diabetes.

Williams was then recruited to a postdoctoral position at Emory University in Atlanta to study diabetes and a second postdoc to study how diabetes affects the kidneys.

She later became an assistant professor of physiology at Emory University and began to look at how zinc is involved in blood pressure control and how zinc deficiency contributes to high blood pressure and kidney damage.

In addition to her research, Williams is dedicated to bringing minority voices and perspectives to research and therapy development. She is currently the president of Black in Physiology Inc., a nonprofit organization committed to promoting Black scientists in physiology-related fields. The Black in Physiology Executive Board and international community members address a void present in the broader scientific community — the authentic intention to recruit, retain and promote Black physiologists.

In addition, Williams serves as the president of the Executive Board of the Dayton American Heart Association and actively participates in its Historically Black Colleges and Universities Scholars Program. With Wright State faculty members serving as research and career mentors, the transformational program is poised to help close the gap in health disparities and inequities by developing the next generation of Black biomedical scientists and health care providers.

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