Jessica Saw


Oberlin College & Conservatory of Music

Neuroscience, BA 2012

Piano Performance, BM 2012

Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine

Year 4, MD 2012-present ( On academic Leave to complete PhD)

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Molecular and Integrative Physiology, PhD 2016-present

Research Interest

Urinary stone disease is extremely common, afflicting approximately 1 in 11 Americans in their lifetime. Despite its common nature, relatively little is understood about the disease etiology and underlying pathogenic mechanisms. We are applying our current understanding of microbe-driven biomineralization (developed by prior studies of natural hot springs, coral reefs and deep subsurface rock deposits) to urinary stone formation. 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. 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.

Prior to coming to Illinois, past research interests explored mechanisms to upregulate heme oxygenase 1, a heme-degrading and oxidative stress-protecting enzyme that has been found to be beneficial in several gastrointestinal diseases.

Bharucha AE, Daley SL, Low PA, Gibbons SJ, Choi KM, Camilleri M, Saw JJ, Farrugia G, Zinsmeister AR. Effects of hemin on heme oxygenase-1, gastric emptying, and symptoms in diabetic gastroparesis. Neurogastroenterol Motil, 2016, Jun;9 doi: 10.1111/nmo.12874. [Epub ahead of print]
Saw J. Clinical Note: Ms. S, 25F. Questioning those giving career advice, Minnesota Medicine, 2015 Sep;98(9):30-1.
Bharucha AE, Choi KM, Saw JJ, Gibbons SJ, Farrugia GF, Carlson DA, Zinsmeister AR. Effects of aspirin & simvastatin and aspirin, simvastatin, & lipoid acid on heme oxygenate-1 in healthy human subjects. Neurogastroenterol Motil, 2014, Oct;26(10):1437-42.

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