Professor of Medicine and Physiology
College of Medicine
For Charles S. Wingo, it’s about keeping the beat. Heartbeat, that is.
Wingo’s research in potassium and aldosterone regulation in the kidneys has the potential to open new doors in the study of hypertension, a major risk factor for heart attacks and strokes. Kidney regulation of serum potassium, Wingo’s main focus of research, is crucial to maintaining heart rhythm, and even small variations from the normal range can be fatal.
Wingo’s laboratory is responsible for discovering the roles of two related protein pumps, both of which regulate potassium, and how one of the pumps functions differently in healthy and depleted-potassium states. In studying the kidneys, Wingo has also made significant strides in uncovering the role of aldosterone, a steroid, and how it affects blood vessel constriction.
Recently, Wingo discovered that aldosterone itself is in part controlled by a circadian rhythm gene, period homolog-1. The effects of this gene and others have particular significance in the study of salt-sensitive hypertension.
From 1983 to 1997, Wingo received support from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. Since 1996, he has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association. He is currently the principal investigator on a grant from the National Cancer Institute, and he is collaborating on a similar grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
Wingo has published 28 book chapters and 75 peer-reviewed documents. Due to his knowledge of renal physiology and serum potassium regulation, he has been invited to speak before the American Society of Nephrology, the World Congress of Nephrology and the 10th International Conference on Endothelin. On the subject of potassium regulation and aldosterone, Wingo’s research has expanded and innovated traditional thought both nationally and internationally.