The Institute Of Human Nutrition

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Faculty and Staff

Nutritional and Metabolic Doctoral Training Faculty

Cathy L. Mendelsohn Cathy L. Mendelsohn, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Urology and Pathology



B.A., 1981 University of Massachusetts
Ph.D., 1989 Columbia University


Research Interests

Dr. Mendelsohn studies the role of retinal signaling in urogenital malformations using mouse models with the aim of applying these studies to humans, since urogenital tract anomalies are among the most common birth defects. She is currently studying kidney and ureter morphogenesis using various types of mouse models.  Work in the Mendelsohn lab showed that reflux due to distal ureter abnormalities can be caused by insufficient dietary vitamin A during gestation, or abnormal vitamin A-signaling, and that vitamin A facilitates urogenital tract formation in large part via Ret, a receptor tyrosine kinase required for kidney and ureter formation. Ongoing studies are focused on understanding epithelial/mesenchymal interactions between the distal ureters and bladder important for proper positioning of ureters and investigating the cause of distal ureter anomalies in a mouse model with a duplicated collecting duct system. Urogenital tract abnormalities such as reflux are thought in some cases to be hereditary. Studies are underway to identify mutations in humans that may underlie these anomalies in collaboration with Dr. Terry Hensle, a pediatric urologist who is in contact with a number of families displaying distal ureter anomalies that can be passed from the mother to son at a frequency of 70%.  Another project studies kidney development, in particular, the role renal stroma in differentiation of the renal collecting duct system. A few years ago, they found that nephron deficit and decreased numbers of collecting ducts in a mutant with abnormal vitamin A signaling was due to abnormalities in stromal cells, which surround the epithelial cells that form collecting ducts. Their current model is that vitamin A signaling in stromal cells is important for generating signals that pattern neighboring epithelial cells.  Current projects include microarray analysis to identify stromal cell genes and analysis of other genetic pathways including Foxd1 and Pbx1b that are also important for stromal cell signaling using Foxd1 and Pbx1b knockout mice.


Recent Publications - Pubmed

Viana, R., Batourina, E., Huang, H., Dressler, GR., Kobayashi, A., Behringer, RR., Shapiro, E.,Hensle, T., Lambert, S and Mendelsohn, C. The development of the bladder trigone, the center of the anti-reflux mechanism. (2007). Development. 134, 3763-2469.

Little, MH, Brennan, J, Georgas, K, Davies JA, Davidson, DR, Baldock, RA, Beverdam, A, Bertram, JF, Capel, B, Chiu, HS, Clements, D, Cullen-McEwen, L, Fleming, J, Gilbert, T, Herzlinger, D, Houghton, D, Kaufman, MH, Kleymenova, E, Koopman, PA, Lewis, AG, McMahon, AP, Mendelsohn, CL, Mitchell, EK, Rumballe, BA, Sweeney, DE, Valerius, MT, Yamada, G, Yang, Y, Yu J. A high-resolution anatomical ontology of the developing murine genitourinarytract. (2007). Gene Expr Patterns 6, 680-99.

Schmidt-Ott KM, Chen X, Paragas N, Levinson RS, Mendelsohn CL, Barasch J.  c-kit delineates a distinct domain of progenitors in the developing kidney.(2006). Dev Biol., 299, 238-249.

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