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Research Overview

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The Division of Nephrology Laboratory of Molecular Physiology is seeking to define the molecular basis of human sensitivity to the blood pressure-raising effects of salt.  This would allow more specific non-pharmacologic and pharmacologic approaches to treat, and perhaps cure, the single most important disease process leading to progressive cardiovascular disease in the general population.

The University of Maryland Baltimore Polycystic Kidney Disease Center strives to cure the single most important cause of genetic kidney disease, which represents 10% of chronic kidney disease.  The center has recruited experts in biochemistry, genetics, and structural biology to tease out the molecular causes for cyst development in the kidney, which leads to renal failure.

In collaboration with the University of Maryland Institute for Genome Sciences we are examining the microbiota of transplant patients to evaluate how microbiota of these patients modify in different immune responses.  We are also studying gene expression in the kidney transplant biopsies.

One important goal is to identify why people with kidney disease develop more rapid cardiovascular disease.  With more than 10 years of support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), this group has enrolled patients in the large ongoing Chronic Renal Insufficiency Cohort (CRIC) Study which continues to provide seminal observations explaining why people with kidney disease experience earlier and more rapid heart and kidney disease progression.  There is also active research as to why people with kidney disease develop cerebrovascular disease, and whether exercise may remedy this problem.

Kidney donation is an essential part of transplantation today, yet determining the safety of donation for all potential living donors remains an area of ongoing research.    Our group is in its sixth year of NIH funding to examine whether kidney donation is safe from a cardiovascular standpoint.  Many different factors may influence risk such as pre-donation level of blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose.  We are using sensitive techniques to measure these and other biomeasures of cardiovascular risk longitudinally over time to correlate with blood vessel injury and overall safety of donation.

Baltimore Center for the Study of Polycystic Kidney Disease

Cystic kidney diseases are a wide range of genetic, developmental, and acquired disorders that are characterized by the presence of fluid-filled cysts that develop in one or both kidneys and can lead to massive kidney enlargement and hemorrhage, and damage to the liver, pancreas, heart, and brain. Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is the most common form of cystic kidney disease. Division faculty provide multidisciplinary care for patients with PKD and access to PKD research cores through the Baltimore Polycystic Kidney Disease Research and Clinical Core Center. To learn more about the Baltimore PKD Center, visit www.baltimorepkdcenter.org.

Molecular Physiology Center

The mission of the laboratory is to study the role of the neurotransmitter and hormone dopamine, its cellular receptors, and regulatory genes in sodium transport control in the kidneys and the development of diseases, such as genetic hypertension and metabolic syndrome, using animal models of disease. To learn more, visit the [laboratory’s home page].

Early Renal Insufficiency Program

The Early Renal Insufficiency (ERI) Program was established to assist primary care providers in the care of patients at the earliest stages of kidney disease. The ERI Program consists of four clinics at University of Maryland Medical System-connected facilities and offers patients access to enriched disease management and opportunities to participate in clinical trials. For more information and a list of available services, visit the ERI Program Web site.

Safe Kidney Care Study

Because patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) have special needs for their medical treatment, but these needs often are overlooked, unintended harm can result in hospitalization, more kidney problems, and even death. This study aims to help prevent acute medical injuries in patients with CKD by understanding the frequency with which these patients are exposed to injury-inducing medicines, tests or procedures. Additionally, the study will assess the efficacy of medical alert accessory in preventing patient safety events. Supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, the study began enrolling patients in spring 2011. To learn more about the study requirements, visit ClinicalTrials.gov and search for trial number NCT01407367.

Transplant Clinical Research Program

Despite many advances in kidney transplant science, research is needed to help improve the health and survival of both the transplant recipient and the transplanted organ.  The Division of Nephrology and Transplantation actively collaborate on the majority of projects antibody-mediated transplant injury, non-traditional risk factors for poor transplant outcomes, and how to optimize immune-suppressing medications to improve long-term success.

Renal Physiology Program

The focus of the laboratory is to better understand the circulatory system found within the innermost part of the kidneys, the renal medullary microcirculation, which supplies oxygen and nutrients and removes waste products and regulates the amount of sodium, urea and water removed from the body in urine. Studies aim to uncover the normal functions of the renal medullary microcirculation as well as the role it plays in diseases such as hypertension. .

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