Northwestern’s Xunrong Luo, kidney transplant researcher and clinician, to take leadership role at Duke Transplant Center

Tuesday, July 17, 2018
Xunrong Luo, MD, PhD

Xunrong Luo, MD, PhD, Margaret Gray Morton Professor of Medicine at Northwestern University, will join the Duke Division of Nephrology on September 1, 2018.

Dr. Luo, a kidney transplant expert, will serve as director of translational research for the Duke Transplant Center.

“We are delighted to welcome Dr. Luo back to Duke,” said Myles Wolf, MD, MMSc, chief of the Division of Nephrology. “Her recruitment was made possible by the Translating Duke Health initiative that is supporting exciting new research programs across Duke University."

The departments of Medicine, Surgery, and Immunology also provided support for Dr. Luo’s recruitment.

Dr. Luo earned her MD and PhD degrees from Duke University, then completed an internship and residency in internal medicine at the New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center, followed by a clinical fellowship in Nephrology and a research fellowship in Transplant Nephrology at that institution.

I am very excited to return to the institution that trained me to be the physician scientist I am today.

Xunrong Luo, MD, PhD

Luo joined the faculty at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in 2005 in the Division of Nephrology and Hypertension.

At Duke, Luo will be a member of the Duke Transplant Center’s steering committee that is charged with the strategic and operational leadership of the scientific, clinical and educational missions of the Center.

“I am very excited to return to the institution that trained me to be the physician scientist I am today,” said Luo. "I look forward to working closely with leading transplant and immunology researchers at Duke and to contributing my expertise to advance the missions of the Duke Transplant Center."

Stuart Knechtle, MD, Mary and Deryl Hart Professor of Surgery and the Center’s executive director, said he anticipates Luo will help to accelerate discovery and translation of scientific innovation into transplant clinical practice.

“Dr. Luo will develop a research program to identify and implement strategies to accelerate innovation and discovery in solid organ transplantation, and she has expressed a keen interest in returning to Duke to help us grow the kidney transplant program,” said Dr. Knechtle.

At Northwestern, Luo was the founding director of the Center for Kidney Research and Therapeutics, and the director of the Human Islet Transplant Program of the Comprehensive Transplant Center.  She additionally serves as the associate director of the Medical Scientist Training Program.

Physician scientist

Since 2006, Luo has been continuously funded as a principal investigator by the National Institutes of Health, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and the National Kidney Foundation.

Luo’s research primarily focuses on the induction and mechanisms of transplantation tolerance, using innovative donor-specific negative vaccination strategies to target the host machineries involved in clearance of cellular apoptotic debris in an immunotolerogenic manner.

She also investigates the engineering of biosynthetic platforms with tolerogenic signals for potentially “off-the-shelf” tolerance treatment options for transplant recipients.

The novelty and significance of her work is underscored by her receiving the NIH Director’s New Innovator (Type 1 Diabetes Pathfinder) Award in 2008 as one of the only ten recipients nation-wide. Her research has been widely published in leading journals including the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the Journal Experimental Medicine, Biomaterials, the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the Journal of American Society of Nephrology, the American Journal of Transplantation, the Journal of Immunology, and Transplantation, among others.

Luo is a mentor to many students, postdoctoral research fellows, residents and clinical fellows. Many of her trainees have gone on to receive NIH T32 training grants as well as postdoctoral fellowships from various foundations.

Luo serves on the editorial board for the journal Transplantation, and as an ad hoc reviewer for numerous journals including Nature Medicine, Journal of Clinical Investigation, and Science Translational Medicine.

She has been elected to serve on the Pancreas Transplantation Committee of the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network/United Network for Organ Sharing (OPTN/UNOS), the Education Committee of the Transplantation Society (TTS), and the Executive Committee of the American Society of Transplantation (AST) Community of Basic Scientists (CoBS).

Luo has received numerous awards, including the Kidney and Urology Foundation of American Research Fellowship Award, the American Society of Transplantation Council’s Fellowship Award, the American Federation for Medical Research Centocor Scholar Award, and the Basic Science Investigator Award of the American Society of Transplantation. In 2013, she was elected to the American Society of Clinical Investigation.