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Terry J. Watnick, MD

Academic Title:

Associate Professor

Primary Appointment:


Additional Title:

Director Baltimore Polycystic Kidney Disease Research and Clinical Core Center


BRB 2-018

Phone (Primary):


Phone (Secondary):




Education and Training


1981                      Sc. B., Brown University (Magna Cum Laude), Providence, RI

1987                      M.D., Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT


Post Graduate Education and Training

1987-1988             Internship, Internal Medicine, Yale-New Haven Hospital

1988-1990             Residency, Internal Medicine, Yale-New Haven Hospital

1992-1995             Fellowship, Nephrology, Johns Hopkins Hospital


As one of the few physician scientists in the PKD field, I have been involved in both basic science and clinical PKD (polycystic kidney disease) research for more than 15 years. My laboratory has been studying the vascular phenotype that is associated with PKD1/2 mutations in humans and in mice. We have demonstrated new roles for polycystins in the vasculature, both in endothelial cells and vascular smooth muscle cells. We recently showed that there is a genetic interaction between Pkd1 and Fbn1 (encoding fibrillin-1). These findings provided an unanticipated clue about the significance of altered TGF-b related signaling pathways in the pathogenesis of aneurysms associated with ADPKD. In addition, our work recently identified a novel role for Pkd1 and Pkd2 in lymphangiogenesis. I have extensive experience in using mouse models of ADPKD to study renal and extra renal phenotypes. I have directed the Baltimore Polycystic Kidney Disease Research and Clinical Core Center (P30DK090868, for the past 6 years.

The goal of the center is to promote translational PKD research by providing unique tools and reagents to a diverse national and international group of investigators. Our group has generated many of the reagents that have driven the PKD field forward. As a part of this effort, I have assembled a bio-bank of clinical samples along with detailed clinical information obtained from more than 100 individuals with ADPKD. This is a valuable resource that will be used to support this project.

Highlighted Publications

Garcia-Gonzalez MA, Outeda P, Zhou Q, Zhou F, Menezes LF, Huso DL, Germino GG, Piontek KB, Watnick T. Pkd1 and Pkd2 are required in trophoblasts and endothelial cells for normal placental development. PLoS One5(9): pii: e12821, 2010.

Liu D, Wang CJ, Judge DP, Halushka MK, Ni J, Habashi JP, Moslehi J, Bedja D, Gabrielson KL, Xu H, Qian F, Huso D, Dietz HC, Germino GG, Watnick T. A Pkd1-Fbn1 genetic interaction implicates TGF-b-Signaling in the pathogenesis of vascular complications in ADPKD. J Am Soc Nephrol 25: 81-91, 2014.

Outeda P,  Huso DL, Fisher SA, Halushka MK, Kim H,  Qian F, Germino GG and Watnick T.  Polycystin signaling is required for directed endothelial cell migration and lymphatic development. Cell Reports 7: 634-44, 2014.

Watnick TJ, Jin Y, Matunis E, Kernan MJ, Montell C.  A flagellar polycystin-2 homolog required for male fertility in DrosophilaCur Biol, 13:2179-2184, 2003

Kottgen M, Hofherr A, Li W, Chu K, Cook S, Montell C, Watnick T. Drosophila Sperm Swim Backwards in the Female Reproductive Tract and Are Activated via TRPP2 Ion Channels. PLoS One6(5): e20031, 2011.

Research Interests

Research in my laboratory focuses on understanding the biology of cystic kidney diseases.  Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) is the most common of these disorders and is caused by mutations in two genes PKD1 (proteins, polycystin-1) and PKD2 (protein-polycystin-2).  ADPKD is a systemic disorder characterized by renal cysts, liver cysts and a number of vascular complications.  We are using a variety of model systems/organisms to understand the biology of these proteins:

One project in the lab involves the use Drosophila melanogaster to dissect the molecules involved in ciliary trafficking of Polycystin-2.  This is important because virtually all the protein products implicated in cystic diseases including have been found to localize to the primary cilia.  Polcystins are conserved in Drosophila and play a key role in male fertility. 

A second project focuses on the role of polycystins in endothelial cells and vascular smooth muscle cells. We are trying to understand why mutations in PKD proteins result in vascular phenotypes such as aneurysms in humans or edema and hemorrhage in mutant mice.

Baltimore Polycystic Kidney Disease Research and Clinical Core Center (1P30 DK090868):

The mission of the Baltimore Polycystic Kidney Disease Research and Clinical Core Center is to promote translational Polcystic Kidney Disease (PKD) research by providing unique resources and expertise to an international group of investigators. The Center is supported by a P30 grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). This is one of four such PKD Centers in the United States.   Dr. Watnick serves as the Director of the Center and Dr. William Guggino (Chair of Physiology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine) is the Co-Director.  The Center has 4 biomedical Research Cores:

  1. Antibody Validation and Vector Core (Director: Feng Qian, Ph.D.)
  2. Mouse Models and Biobank Core (Director: Dr. Patricia Outeda-Garcia, Ph.D.)
  3. Cell Culture/Cell Engineering Core (Director: Paul Welling, M.D. and Owen Woodward, Ph.D.)
  4. Clinical/Translational Core (Director Terry Watnick, M.D., Co-Director, Stephen Seliger, M.D.)

Clinical Specialty Details

Inherited kidney diseases including Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease, adult forms of autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease, Alport syndrome, inherited glomerular diseases and Fabry disease. Dr. Watnick has established an inherited renal disease clinic at the University of Maryland that will continue to serve as a tertiary referral center for the mid-Atlantic Region. She has also been an investigator in several multicenter Clinical Trials recruiting patients with ADPKD, including TEMPO.

Awards and Affiliations

1977: National Merit Special Scholarship
1981: Susan Colver Rosenberger Prize in Portuguese and Brazilian Studies
1981: Honors in Biology, Magna Cum Laude, Brown University
1994-96: National Research Service Award DK09055, National Institutes of Health
1997: Solo Cup Institutional Clinician Scientist Award, The Johns Hopkins University
1998-04: NIH Physician Scientist Award
1999: ISN Travel Fellowship, Buenos Aires, Argentina
2004: Norman S. Coplon Grant Award (Satellite Research Foundation)

Links of Interest