About the Subramanian Research Lab

Balaji Subramanian, PhDBalaji Subramanian, PhD
Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School

His research uses interdisciplinary approaches to tackle the problem surrounding podocyte and tubular kidney diseases, specifically emphasizing Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) and Polycystic Kidney Disease. In addition, he is responsible for the divisions’ Bioengineering initiatives in kidney disease research and plays a key role in their continued development and integration with various kidney disease research. He also manages all of the divisions’ stem cell research operations, including end-to-end management of divisions’ IPSCs inventory and support in all related research activities.

Prior to starting his independent research program, Balaji was a postdoctoral research fellow in the lab of Dr. Martin Pollak of the nephrology division and was involved in the studies uncovering the mechanisms of FSGS. His research focused on unraveling the connection between an actin-regulatory protein, Inverted Formin-2 (INF2), and human glomerular kidney diseases. Mutations in INF2 are among the most common genetic causes of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS). He has published multiple lead-author papers describing the mechanistic effects of INF2 mutations in glomerular kidney diseases. Previous to his work at BIDMC, Balaji did postdoctoral training in the renal division of Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Balaji has earned a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Massachusetts. His research dissertation focused on developing tissue engineering-based kidney tissue models.


The intertwining of biophysical and biochemical processes is inherent in how the kidney develops, adapts to physiological stresses and devolves during disease. Therefore, we take holistic work at the interface of engineering and medicine, where the application of engineering principles provides unprecedented opportunities to understand the kidney processes better.

We currently apply this interface approach to tackle the problem surrounding podocyte and tubular kidney diseases, emphasizing Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis and Polycystic Kidney Disease. We prepare tailor-made systems to address issues surrounding these diseases. This approach involves overlapping engineering efforts in Stem Cells biology (e.g., Organoids), Biomaterials (e.g., Scaffolds), and fluidics (e.g., microfluidics). Ultimately, our mission is to create new tools to research various kidney diseases, use them and gain insights, and train and prepare future kidney researchers who transcend traditional disciplines.

Key Publications

  • Disease Modeling with Kidney Organoids Sophie Karp, Martin R Pollak, Balajikarthick Subramanian. Micromachines (Basel). 2022 Aug 25;13(9):1384.
  • Bioengineering Strategies to Develop Podocyte Culture Systems Sarah Williams, Joseph L Charest, Martin R Pollak, Balajikarthick Subramanian. Tissue Eng Part B Rev. 2022 Aug;28(4):938-948