Grant renewal extends, expands national research of kidney failure

agarwalThe National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has renewed a grant shared by UAB and the University of California, San Diego, that will extend and expand research into acute kidney failure, or acute kidney injury, which kills 70 to 80 percent of patients in intensive care units who develop the disease.

The rate of acute kidney injury has increased in recent years as more patients are older, diabetic, obese and hypertensive, and mortality rates from the disease have not improved in the past 40 years.

“It’s a disease that’s getting worse; it’s not getting better,” said Anupam Agarwal, M.D., a nephrologist in the School of Medicine and interim senior vice president for Medicine and dean of the School of Medicine.

Since 2008, Agarwal has lead the O’Brien Center for Acute Kidney Injury Research, one of seven federally funded centers in the country aimed at making state-of-the art technologies and resources readily accessible to researchers pursuing studies in relevant areas related to kidney disease. The center serves as a national core resource to identify and fund promising research and to provide important scientific services to the funded investigators. The five-year, $5.64 million renewal (NIH P30 DK079337) will expand efforts, including work to find genetic determinants for early detection and expand an international registry.   

In the center’s first five years, “we have been able to bring together world renowned scientists and brought to bear their expertise on this disease,” said Paul Sanders, M.D., associate director of the center and a professor of medicine in the Division of Nephrology. Their efforts resulted in more than 640 collaborative interactions among researchers and more than 175 peer-reviewed scientific publications. A total of $570,000 was awarded to 15 pilot projects to young investigators, which in turn garnered an additional $7 million in new extramural funding, a 12-to-1 return on investment.

Read more about the grant and the Center.