Urinary stone disease is a sensitive but extremely common affliction which affects nearly 1 in 10 Americans at some point in their lifetime. Jessica Saw has dedicated her studies, first as a M.D. at the Mayo Medical School in Minnesota and later as a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Illinois, into learning more about this painful affliction alongside research advisor Dr. Bruce Fouke, Professor of Geology and Microbiology. Saw says the following about her work on urinary stones:
“We are currently identifying bacteria and fungi trapped in fine organic matter-rich concentric layers that may link microbial biochemistry with the complex history of crystalline kidney stone growth,” she said. “Similar to natural environments like Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park, microbial consortia inhabiting the kidney may up-regulate specific suites of membrane bound proteins that catalyze stone growth. If these observations are confirmed, the implications could fundamentally transform paradigms for urinary stone therapy and also expand our understanding of the vibrant microbiome community living symbiotically within us.”
Additionally, Saw works at the Carl R. Woese Institute fo Genomic Biology computing genomes for reproductive health and biocomplexity. The Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB) is dedicated to research and technology in life sciences. One of IGB’s programs is the Art of Science, a celebration of common ground between science and art. The program’s exhibits comprise images from IGB’s research portfolio, artistically enhanced to highlight the beauty and fascination encountered daily in scientific endeavors.
As the recipient of an ARCS Scholar Award, Saw is thankful for what it has meant in terms of finances and professional networking.
“The ARCS Award has not only served as the primary support required to make my MD-PhD possible, but it has also linked me to a wonderful group of women whom I respect deeply,” she said. “Through ARCS Foundation, I’ve met many highly involved, motivated, driven, passionate women. I am inspired by their continual interest, curiosity and willingness to learn about current scientific research.”