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The history and mission of the Nephrology Research and Training Center (NRTC) established in 1976, was recognized as a full University-wide Interdisciplinary Research Center in October 2008. Recognizing the importance of enhancing the research portfolio of the NRTC, Dr. Anupam Agarwal was recruited as the Director of the Center in November 2003 and in November 2009, Dr. Paul Sanders was appointed to this position and has since led the NRTC. In 2022, Kelly Hyndman, Ph.D., and Javier Neyra, M.D., were appointed as the Associate Directors of the Center.

The mission of the NRTC is to provide a comprehensive interdisciplinary infrastructure and environment to support the kidney-related research continuum from molecular pathways to model systems to man. The particular emphasis of this Center is on projects/experimental strategies that integrate basic concepts and clinical insights into translational research. Through educational outreach programs, relevant data will be shared with the community so as to improve health and well-being of those affected by kidney disease and hypertension and increase the number of organs available for renal transplants through public awareness.

The Center currently has 134 faculty members including members from 6 different Schools at UAB (Medicine, Public Health, Health Professions, Nursing, Business, Engineering and Arts and Science). For kidney research-related undertakings, the NRTC also partners with the Center for Clinical and Translational Science (UAB-CCTS), Comprehensive Diabetes Center, Center for Free Radical Biology, Comprehensive Center for Health Aging, Diabetes Research Center, Comprehensive Transplant Institute, and the Heflin Center for Human Genetics.

The NRTC takes a multidisciplinary, interdepartmental approach to the study of kidney disease and physiology. The Center's orientation is primarily research, but may interact with the Division of Nephrology and the Renal Transplant Program in the Department of Surgery for clinical aspects of care.

Research interests of the Center include studies of the renal physiology, molecular biology, and regulatory control of renal epithelial cell ion transporters and channels. A major focus of the center includes basic research in polycystic kidney disease. The Center is also known for work characterizing the epithelial sodium channel and mutations that occur in this channel that cause Liddle’s Syndrome. A longstanding research interest has been in the area of renal hemodynamics, especially myogenic responses of kidney arterioles and tubuloglomerular feedback mechanism, which play an essential role in the regulation/preservation of glomerular filtration rate. The NRTC is also known for both basic science and clinical studies on various aspects of hypertension, including salt-sensitive hypertension in African Americans. There is intense interest in defining the various intracellular messenger/enzyme systems that are activated in response to hypertension and dietary salt intake including TGF-beta, endothelin, and the nitric oxide pathway that may also mediate some of the deleterious effects of hypertension.  Other areas of interest include studies to elucidate the pathophysiology of acute renal failure and gene therapy for kidney diseases.  Ongoing exciting work is defining the mechanisms for and prevention of renal transplant rejection, IgA nephropathy, sickle cell nephropathy, and the many mechanisms of kidney failure due to multiple myeloma.

The NRTC provides a rich environment for both graduate and postgraduate training. In conjunction with the joint health science departments at UAB, the Center has been highly successful in recruiting, training, and guiding students to the completion of PhD degrees. The Center attracts first-rate postdoctoral fellows from the US, Europe, and Asia and has the reputation of providing the training and publications needed to allow these individuals to successfully compete for faculty positions and to compete for other competitive scientific related careers. The NRTC also provides a seamless mechanism whereby clinical fellows from the Division of Nephrology can gain research experience and develop the skills to successfully compete as academic nephrologists.

The research laboratories within the Center offer state-of-the-art facilities, equipment, and expertise to perform biological research. Molecular biology tools, electrophysiology including patch clamp techniques, and fluorescence imaging microscopy are available within the Center. Recently, members of the Center, in conjunction with the UAB Imaging Center, have used cutting edge multi-photon microscopy. This technique has provided fascinating new insights and is now a major new tool in renal research. Thus, the NRTC is at the forefront of kidney research providing new scientific and clinically relevant information that should help in the understanding, prevention, and treatment of renal disease.

Head shot of Dr. Paul Sanders, MD (Professor, Nephrology), 2017.
Paul W. Sanders, MD
Email: psanders@uab.edu

Head shot of Dr Kelly Hyndman, PhD (Assistant Professor, Nephrology), 2016.
Associate Director
Kelly Hyndman, PhD
Email: hyndmank@uab.edu

javier neyra lozano 200x200
Associate Director
Javier Neyra, MD
Email: jneyra@uab.edu

Monica Vasiliu headshot.small
Assistant Director
Monica Vasiliu, PhD
Email: mvasiliu@uab.edu