Jeffrey H. Miner, PhD, an esteemed nephrologist and innovative scientist at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, has been named the inaugural Eduardo and Judith Slatopolsky Professor of Medicine in Nephrology.
The new professorship was established by Eduardo Slatopolsky, MD, a professor emeritus in nephrology who has earned numerous accolades for his research at the university on metabolic bone disease in chronic kidney disease.
Miner was named to the professorship by Chancellor Andrew D. Martin and David H. Perlmutter, MD, executive vice chancellor for medical affairs, the George and Carol Bauer Dean of the School of Medicine, and the Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Distinguished Professor.
“It is very fitting for Jeffrey Miner to be honored with an inaugural professorship that bears the Slatopolsky name,” Martin said. “Both Jeffrey Miner and Eduardo Slatopolsky are inspiring and innovative researchers who have had a significant impact on nephrology and, more broadly, medicine. We are grateful to the Slatopolsky family for this generous gift.”
Also a professor of cell biology and physiology, Miner is noted for his research on the glomerular basement membrane, which serves as a component of the kidney’s filtration system responsible for ridding extra fluids and waste from the body. Specifically, Miner studies how proteins in the basement membrane may contribute to genetic diseases, such as Pierson and Alport syndromes. Both are rare, debilitating, often-fatal conditions that can cause kidney failure.
Over the course of his career, he has studied diverse aspects of kidney biology, including cystic kidney disease and urogenital development. He uncovered, in mice, protein deficiencies that can lead to congenital anomalies of the kidneys and urinary tract system. These defects can cause recurrent urinary tract infections, kidney damage or life-threatening renal disease.
Miner’s lab uses CRISPR/Cas9 technology, super-resolution fluorescence microscopy and other high-tech tools with the aim of developing new treatments for patients.
“It is inspiring to see Jeff Miner recognized in this way because of his foundational impact that has already changed our understanding of renal diseases,” Perlmutter said. “He exemplifies all of the values of Eduardo Slatopolsky and the legacy of nephrology research at Washington University over many years, including scientific discoveries that led to breakthroughs and innovations in patient care. I also want to thank Dr. Slatopolsky for his generosity and his and his wife Judith’s great love for our institution and research aimed at making people’s lives better.”
Among Slatopolsky’s many contributions to the field of nephrology, he helped develop a technique to measure patients’ parathyroid hormone, which led to improved treatments for kidney and endocrine disorders. He also founded a chronic dialysis program at Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Hospital, where he formerly treated patients.
His wife of 52 years, Judith Miriam Hirshfeld Slatopolsky, died in 2012 at age 75. A mother of three, she also lived a life of service. An advocate for women’s reproductive rights, she counseled women through reproductive health issues and teens she met through youth emergency services. She read to students in the St. Louis Public Schools through the Reading is Fundamental program, and volunteered as an interpreter for Hispanic patients at Casa de Salud, a St. Louis clinic that provides health care to many in the region’s immigrant community.
“It is gratifying that this professorship serves the purpose of honoring Dr. and Mrs. Slatopolsky and Dr. Miner,” said Victoria J. Fraser, MD, the Adolphus Busch Professor of Medicine and head of the Department of Medicine. “Drs. Slatopolsky and Miner are both outstanding scientists and engaging mentors whose work will continue to have an enormous impact on patients suffering from kidney disorders. And Mrs. Slatopolsky lived a life of kindness we can all learn from, helping people in difficult situations.”
Informing Miner about the endowed professorship while on a three-way Zoom chat that included Eduardo Slatopolsky proved to be an inspiring, positive moment during the pandemic, recalled Benjamin D. Humphreys, MD, PhD, the Joseph Friedman Professor of Renal Diseases in Medicine and director of the Division of Nephrology. “Eduardo has played such an important role in the division, and Jeff has devoted his career to understanding how basement membranes contribute to kidney function and disease so he can improve the lives of patients. I hold them both in the highest regard.”
A graduate of Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., Miner earned a doctorate in molecular biology and biochemistry in 1991 from California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., where he subsequently remained for a year of postdoctoral training. From 1992 to 1996, Miner continued his postdoctoral training at Washington University School of Medicine and then joined the faculty.
Miner has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors from groups such as the American Society of Nephrology and the American Heart Association Council on the Kidney in Cardiovascular Disease. He has lectured across the world, authored dozens of research papers, and served as a leader for many professional organizations. Currently, he is president-elect of the American Society for Matrix Biology.
“During my postdoctoral training, I made the choice to follow the science and focus my career on nephrology research,” Miner said. “Being named the inaugural Eduardo and Judith Slatopolsky Professor of Medicine in Nephrology is a particularly special honor for me because Dr. Slatopolsky is such a legend in renal physiology, and Mrs. Slatopolsky did so much to help her community. They both set an extremely high bar, and I admire them both so much.”