Roy Zent is the Thomas F. Frist Sr Professor of Medicine at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee. He is a member of the division of nephrology and is the Vice Chair of Research for the department of Medicine and is a Professor in the departments of Cell and Developmental Biology as well as Cancer Biology. He received his medical training at The University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg in South Africa and specialized in internal medicine and nephrology at the University of Cape Town. Dr. Zent received a Ph.D in cell biology from the University of Toronto in Canada and did a post-doctoral fellowship with Dr. Mark Ginsberg at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA. He is board certified in South Africa, Canada and the USA in internal medicine and nephrology. Dr. Zent has a clinical nephrology and internal medicine practice.
The main research focus of the Zent group is to define mechanisms of cell-extracellular matrix interactions and how they affect kidney development and function. The family of proteins focused on is called integrins, which are the principal cell receptors for extracellular matrix. The major projects in the group include: 1) defining the mechanisms whereby integrins regulate cell function and signaling; 2) defining how integrin cytoplasmic tails interact with cytoplasmic proteins to regulate cell function; 2) defining the structural determinants of specificity of integrin-dependent signaling. The major techniques used to answer these questions include the making and characterization of transgenic mice, cell biology and biochemical techniques as well as structural methodologies including 3-dimensional nuclear magnetic resonance. Our group has extensive collaborations with other groups within the division of nephrology and other departments at Vanderbilt Medical Center.