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Around three million people in the UK have kidney disease

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Dr Ben Caplin is a research scientist based at UCL Medical School in London. Currently funded by Kidney Research UK, Ben and his team are working on a first-of-its-kind project examining DNA in the arteries of people with kidney disease to try to find out why kidney disease causes heart problems.

I’ve always been interested in science. I think I was a bit of a geek as a young teenager. I remember reading Richard Dawkins ‘The Blind Watchmaker’ when I was 12 or 13 years old and being utterly captivated. I remember hearing about Dr Barry Marshall’s self-experimentation on helicobacter pylori (gut bacteria) and stomach ulcers in Australia, and thinking this was completely heroic.

I’ve been inspired by many people from the scientific community – from when I was young, right through my career so far. My heroes have all been fantastic doctors; each great communicators with sharp intellects but, more than that, and most importantly, they’ve been people who are open minded, willing to listen and who recognise the importance of having people with a different range of strengths on a team. It’s these kind of people who have both inspired and challenged me.

My own interest in research goes back to almost to the beginning of my career as a doctor. It all comes back to people, doesn’t it? I love being a doctor and working with patients to make diagnoses and decisions about treatments, but the opportunity to discover things that will positively impact those people’s lives just adds so much more.

Ben Caplin, kidney researcher at UCL Medical School Royal Free, London

Ben Caplin, kidney researcher at UCL Medical School Royal Free, London

So, today, here I am thoroughly immersed in renal research. I think kidney medicine is so gripping simply because it encompasses so many fields of science – from immunology and genetics to physiology and epidemiology. It’s truly multidisciplinary and I really love that about it!

I’ve also had a chance to travel – all in the name of renal research. Recently, I found myself knee deep in mud in Nicaragua attempting to understand the cause of the kidney disease epidemic that is currently present in Central America. Thousands of young people are dying from kidney disease each year and no one knows why.

I do feel very privileged in the job I do. With my team and the funding from Kidney Research UK, we are studying the changes that occur in the arteries of patients with kidney disease. And I very much hope that this work will eventually lead to a reduction in the number of heart attacks and strokes that kidney patients have in the future.

But for me, still, the most important part of my job is working with patients. It’s those small interactions with individuals and families that I still get the most from, and which pushes me on to try to find the answers, and ultimately to find a cure for kidney disease.

Ben’s essential work is the focus of our new direct marketing campaign. You might be receiving a leaflet about him through your door, or you can find out more about his vital research here.

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