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Department of Physiology
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
The Pluznick Lab
Jennifer Pluznick
Jennifer Pluznick, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

Jen Pluznick received her Ph.D. in Renal Physiology from the University of Nebraska Medical Center (Omaha, NE) in 2005. She then spent five years training as a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University (New Haven, CT), where she studied both renal physiology and sensory biology systems (in particular, olfaction).  Jen is interested in better understanding the roles of “understudied” G-protein coupled receptors in the kidney, and in uncovering how these receptors aid the kidney in the maintenance of homeostasis.

Complete List of Publications

Postdoctoral Fellows  
M. Umar Cheema, Ph.D.

Umar graduated from Aarhus University, Denmark with a degree in Molecular Biology in 2009, and a PhD in Medicine in 2013. During his PhD, he studied the pathophysiological role of aldosterone in the nephron.   He also did postdoctoral work on the role of female steroid hormones in regulation of aquaporin-2 (AQP2) and water handling by distal tubule.  He joined the Pluznick lab in the fall of 2016 to study the gut microbiota in hypertensive mouse models.  Besides research, he loves to travel, play and watch cricket, and spend time with family and friends.

Jiaojiao Xu
Jiaojiao Xu, Ph.D.

Jiaojiao Xu graduated from The Chinese University of Hong Kong with her PhD in Oct of 2017, where she studied the modulation of salty taste  in human taste cells by dipeptides.   She joined the lab in October of 2018.




Nathan Zaidman
Nathan Zaidman, PhD

Nathan earned his PhD from the University of Minnesota in 2016, where he studied ion transport in airway epithelial cells.  He joined the lab in the fall of 2016 to explore the wonders of the kidney.  When he’s not in the lab, he enjoys hiking, bowling and playing soccer.


Graduate Students  
Brian Poll
Brian Poll
Brian graduated from the University of Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in Biology in 2012. After working as a laboratory technician at Northwestern University, he was accepted to the BCMB graduate program and joined the lab in the summer of 2017. His project studies Olfr78, a renal olfactory receptor found in the juxtaglomerular apparatus. When not in the lab he enjoys watching movies, jogging, and collecting vinyl records.
Tilmira Smith
Tilmira Smith

Mira graduated from Eastern Michigan University in April of 2018 with her B.S. in Biology. She is now a post-bac here at Johns Hopkins under the Doctoral Diversity Program. Her project will involve screening the bladder for sensory receptors. She enjoys ballroom dancing, drawing and exploring scenic views.




Jason Sanchez

Jason Sanchez

Jason graduated from The Catholic University of America with a M.S. in Biotechnology in 2016 and joined the lab early of 2018. Currently, Jason is conducting an aging study looking at baseline plasma acetate levels in mice, and he hopes to pioneer RNAscope technology for the lab. Jason enjoys playing basketball, spending time in the gym, and having a good laugh.


Kunal Gupta
Kunal Gupta
Kunal is an undergraduate sophomore at Johns Hopkins University from Seattle, WA. He is studying molecular and cellular biology, and started working at the lab in the fall of 2018. He is researching the expression of ion transport receptors found throughout the nephron. Outside of the lab, Kunal enjoys sports, hanging out with friends, and photography.
Zoya Khalil
Zoya Khalil

Zoya is an undergraduate pre-med student at Johns Hopkins from Los Angeles. She first started working in the lab June 2017. She's currently studying Olfr 461 and 456 and their role in the kidney. While not in the lab, Zoya enjoys swimming and spending time with her friends. 

Trainee Grants and Honors  
F32 Postdoctoral Fellowship Blythe Shepard, Nathan Zaidman
F31 Predoctoral Fellowship Victoria Halperin-Kuhns, Brian Poll
AHA Predoctoral Fellowship Niranjana Natarajan
KO1 Blythe Shepard
National Kidney Foundation of Maryland Minigrant Blythe Shepard, Prem Rajkumar
Finalist for Postdoctoral Excellence in Renal Research Award (Experimental BIology) Blythe Shepard, Prem Rajkumar
Caroline Tum Suden Awardee (Experimental BIology Meeting) Blythe Shepard, Prem Rajkumar, Niranjana Natarajan
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