Mary Gates Endowment For Students

Human Mini-Kidney Organoids for Therapy Discovery

Faculty PI Name:

Benjamin Freedman

Project or Start-Up Company Name:


Lab/Project Website:

Work Location:

850 Republican St, Room S560

Work Hours (include times of recurring group meetings, special events, etc.):

  • Flexible hours based on weekly work.
  • Wednesday morning lab meetings at 9am.

Overall Program Goal:

Kidney disease affects one in ten Americans, with limited therapies available. We have invented human mini-kidney structures (organoids) that can be grown en masse in the lab. The mini-kidneys show symptoms of human diseases. We have used these previously to discover a new therapeutic for polycystic kidney disease, a common genetic disorder that causes tiny tubules in the kidneys and other organs to swell to large sizes and crowd out healthy tissue. Currently we are using the kidneys to screen potential drug delivery agents and will be the primary focus of this internship.

Intern Project Description and Responsibilities:

The intern will focus on screening potential drug delivery agents by characterizing their efficacy and their molecular interactions with the different components of the kidney. Possible experiments may involve cell culture, fluorescent imaging, or drug dosing assays.


The position is open to all academic backgrounds, but previous lab experience and particularly the ability to pipette and conduct cell culture would be helpful. Familiarity with the kidneys is not required but might be helpful as well.

Level of Independence:

  • The student will work under the direct supervision of a graduate student to learn the ropes of the culture system and conduct the work described above.
  • The student will work together with this graduate student and the senior mentor (Dr. Freedman) to design experiments on a weekly basis. If desired, a second project with greater independence may be conducted in parallel, suited to the student’s particular interests and experience, and related to the general aims of the laboratory in commercializing kidney organoid technology for therapy development (including both chemical and regenerative therapeutics).
  • The student will be expected to participate in lab meetings on a regular basis and will liaison with others in the lab working to translate these technologies from bench to bedside.

Learning Opportunities:

The intern will learn what an organoid is, its main components, and how these cultures can be used in a general way to develop therapies. They’ll also learn about the pathophysiology of various kidney diseases.