Rauchman Returns to Division of Nephrology

It took 15 years, but Michael Rauchman, MDCM, has finally come home.

On January 1, 2018, Dr. Rauchman returned to the division as Professor of Medicine, coming from St. Louis University (SLU) where he was Professor of Internal Medicine and Associate Chief, Medical Service, at the St. Louis VA Medical Center.

After earning his medical degree from McGill University Faculty of Medicine in Montreal, Canada, Rauchman went on to complete both his fellowship in nephrology and postdoctoral research fellowship at Harvard Medical School. He first came to Washington University in 1999 as a staff nephrologist and Assistant Professor of Medicine before transferring to SLU in 2003.

“With all the new buildings on campus, I could barely recognize the place when I returned to Washington University,” says Rauchman. “But the stimulating intellectual environment and the warm welcome, both from former colleagues and the many new people I have met, has not changed. I am excited to be back!”

Rauchman’s clinical interests are management of advanced CKD, inherited renal diseases and renal disease in pregnancy. “As a practicing nephrologist, I confront the serious consequences of renal hypoplasia, agenesis and urinary tract obstruction in diverse clinical settings,” he says. “This continues to drive me to understand basic genetic mechanisms of birth defects in the hope that it will lead to novel treatments and preventive measures.”

His research on the regulation of nephron progenitor cells provides insights into how developmental pathways can be harnessed to promote repair and regeneration of the adult kidney. Current studies funded by an NIH/NIDDK R01 grant will determine how Sall1 transcription factors and the Nucleosome Remodeling and Deacetlyase (NuRD) complex regulate the balance between self-renewal and differentiation of nephron progenitors.

Dr. Rauchman is continuing his role as Section Chief of Nephrology at the St. Louis VA, where he sees veterans in a weekly out-patient general nephrology clinic and on the in-patient consult service. He oversees a busy clinical service, which includes eight weekly general nephrology clinics, interdisciplinary hypertension and advanced CKD clinics, and an ESRD program. The VA is an integral site for training renal fellows and medical residents.

“Our section is also active in research,” says Rauchman. “VA nephrology faculty currently participate in five clinical trials.” Rauchman is principal investigator (St. Louis site) of a Department of Veterans Affairs Cooperative Study called The Million Veteran Program (MVP): A Partnership with Veterans conducted under the Cooperative Studies Program. The MVP is a research initiative under the Genomic Medicine Program that is creating a database for researchers to conduct future genetic and health studies study.

In addition, Rauchman recently received a VA Merit Award to investigate the role of alpha v integrins in kidney fibrosis. “As part of this study, we are testing novel small molecule inhibitors of alpha v integrins to see if they can ameliorate kidney fibrosis.”

As for off-time interests, Rauchman is an avid reader of both fiction and non-fiction, and likes to cycle, hike, and ice skate. “Each summer I typically take a cycling or hiking trip with a high school friend. We hope to do the Azores this summer.”

Front, left to right are Lisa Stout and Lynn Robbins. Back row left to right are Dr. Michael Rauchman and Dr. Jeannine Basta.

Joining Dr. Rauchman in his laboratory is Assistant Professor Jeannine Basta. Dr. Basta earned her PhD at SLU under Rauchman’s mentorship, studying the transcriptional control of multipotent nephron progenitor cells in the developing kidney. She continued her research in embryonic kidney development as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Rauchman laboratory. Dr. Basta was appointed Research Associate in the Department of Internal Medicine at SLU in 2014.

Basta was first author of a recently published paper in Development, which studied a mouse knock-in mutant that disrupted Sall1 and NuRD interaction. One of their confocal images of immunofluorescent staining of an embryonic mouse kidney was used as the cover photo for the journal (see here).

Dr. Basta grew up on a farm about an hour and a half west of St. Louis, just a little south of Hermann, MO. “A beautiful little town with more wineries than grocery stores,” she says. “My parents still reside on the farm and have a large herd of cows that they lovingly manage in their ‘spare time’ as a hobby.” Off hours, Dr. Basta enjoys time with her husband and their 3 year old son “who provides constant entertainment and joy in our lives!”

Also part of the Rauchman laboratory are Research Lab Supervisor Lynn Robbins and Research Assistant Lisa Stout.

Lynn has a BS in Biology from SLU and has over 30 years of experience in research. She joined Dr. Rauchman’s laboratory in 2004. In her free time, Lynn teaches scuba diving; she and her husband enjoy St. Louis Blues hockey and spending time outdoors.

Lisa has been working in the Rauchman lab for just over a year. She had previously worked as a veterinary technician in the Department of Comparative Medicine at SLU for three years and as a technician at a veterinary hospital prior to that. Lisa and her fiancé enjoy fishing and hiking together with their dogs.

As for the daunting task of relocating the laboratory, Basta says, “The move went well, but it did take lots of organization and planning to physically move everything.” The transfer of the mouse colony took months of strategizing. They had to finish experiments and transfer the mice that were needed, while preserving others as cryo-stocks. Their data backup to external hard drives and cloud storage took weeks.

“We started packing about a month before the actual move so that it wasn’t as arduous,” says Basta. “The good thing about moving is that we streamlined and organized our inventory. We are now unpacked and getting started on experiments!”

Welcome to the division, Lynn, Lisa and Dr. Basta. And Dr. Rauchman … welcome back!