July 21, 2022

Research Spotlight: Harold Aukema, Ph.D.

Effect of Whole Foods Compared to Ultra-Processed Foods in PKD (2022)

How did you first get involved in PKD research?

Harold Aukema: When I was a graduate student, our lab acquired one of the first models of PKD and I was excited about the potential of diet to have an impact on disease progression. So, when given the opportunity to work on a diet and PKD study in these mice, I jumped at it and I’ve been working in PKD research off and on ever since.

What are you working on currently?

Harold Aukema: I’m currently working on a project that was recently funded by the PKD Foundation and the PKD Foundation of Canada on the effect of whole foods compared to processed foods, and plant-based compared to animal-based foods on progression of kidney disease in models of PKD. Interestingly, one of the models we are using is the same one I started my research on.


What would you like the patient community to know about your research?

Harold Aukema: I’m grateful for the opportunity given by the PKD Foundations to study this topic and believe that our results will provide pre-clinical data (it will still need to be tested in people) of whether individuals with PKD should consume more whole foods or more plant-based foods. There is much interest in this, but direct proof in PKD is still missing.


Do you have a personal connection to PKD?

Harold Aukema: No, it started as an interesting research question and the interest has stayed with me ever since.


What excites you most about this research?

Harold Aukema: I believe that no matter the results, it will help guide future dietary recommendations for PKD.


What are some of your personal interests outside of research?

Harold Aukema: Reading, hiking, traveling, cycling.