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New research grants awarded

06 May 2021

After a difficult year, we are delighted to award new research grants to scientists and doctors across the country.

We have funded two new fellowships and one new fellowship with support from the Stoneygate Trust, who have also funded six new projects.

All of them fit our charity strategy to transform treatments for kidney patients. Through these grants we are working to make dialysis more tolerable and effective; extend the life of a transplant and make it easier to live with; make monitoring less invasive, kinder, and less dependent on hospital visits; and develop and expand the use of medical technology to achieve earlier diagnosis and better patient management.

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Fellowships

Our fellowships are given to outstanding early career researchers. These researchers have the potential to become leaders in their field and our grants nurture this talent, giving them the opportunity to gain experience and become independent scientists.

Understanding blood pressure control

Dr Elizabeth Wan from University College London is studying genetic diseases that affect a protein that plays a key role in blood pressure control. This exciting work will help us to understand the pathways that control blood pressure and may reveal new treatments.

  • Elizabeth’s work is funded by a  Clinical Training Fellowship from Kidney Research UK for £281,424.

Understanding how kidney cysts form

Dr Richard Naylor from the University of Manchester will use zebrafish and human kidney organoids - miniature kidneys in a dish - as models of cyst formation, to understand what makes cysts grow. This work could reveal new ways to treat people living with cysts in their kidneys and improve their lives.

  • Richard’s work is funded by an Intermediate Training Fellowship from Kidney Research UK for £209,255.

Understanding how kidney transplant patients’ immune systems respond to cytomegalovirus infection

Dr Farah Latif from Cardiff University will investigate how human cytomegalovirus – a common viral infection - interacts with the immune system in people who have had a kidney transplant. Human cytomegalovirus is particularly dangerous in patients who haven’t been exposed to the virus but receive a kidney from an infected donor. Understanding cytomegalovirus infection in kidney transplant patients is the first step towards developing new antiviral drugs to protect patients.

  • Farah’s work is funded by a Fellowship award in partnership with The Stoneygate Trust for £30,000 and supported by a £172,836 contribution from the Wales Clinical Academic Track programme from Health Education and Improvement Wales.

Projects

Our project grants are awarded to scientists carrying out stand-alone research projects that will advance our knowledge of kidney disease and refine current treatments or lead to new advances in the future.  

Helping transplants last longer

As part of the ADMIRE study ‘Assessing Donor kidneys and Monitoring Transplant REcipients’, Dr Maria Kaisar and her team at the University of Oxford will analyse blood samples from donors to develop a mathematical model to predict how well a donor kidney will function after transplant. The Oxford team, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Nottingham and University College London, will also develop MRI scanning methods to assess donor organs before and after transplant. This study could help doctors accurately assess kidneys, transplant only the best and identify suitable kidneys from donors previously deemed too high risk.

  • The ADMIRE study is funded by an award of £237,626 in partnership with The Stoneygate Trust.

Tackling low blood pressure during dialysis  

Professor Nicholas Selby is tackling the sudden drop in blood pressure some patients experience during haemodialysis by using pressure sensors on the dialysis tubing. He's working with an extended team across the University of Nottingham, Royal Derby Hospital and the University of Derby. This new technology could help doctors predict a sudden drop in blood pressure and prevent unpleasant symptoms and long-term negative effects on patient health and survival.  

  • Nicholas’ research is funded by an award of £234,155 in partnership with The Stoneygate Trust. 

A virtual reality tool for dialysis training

Dr Ben Reynolds, his team at the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow and collaborators at Glasgow Caledonian University, are developing a virtual reality tool to provide guidance, support and training for nurses, children on dialysis and their familiesThe tool will transport users to a virtual dialysis environment with machines, equipment, and ‘real-life’ patients to give ‘hands-on’ dialysis training. 

  • Ben’s research is funded by an Innovation Grant for £49,910 in partnership with The Stoneygate Trust. 

Identifying kidney disease early in high-risk communities

Dr Kate Bramham at King’s College Hospital is researching whether a smartphone home urine test could detect protein and diagnose kidney disease early in communities that are harder to reach, giving high-risk groups the opportunity to look after their kidney health. The study results will inform the design of a larger study to test whether this smartphone urine test approach holds the key to spotting kidney disease earlier and is cost effective enough to use across the country.  

  • Kate’s research is funded by an award of £209,041 in partnership with The Stoneygate Trust. 

The eye - a window to the kidney

Dr Neeraj (Bean) Dhaun and his team at the University of Edinburgh have discovered that people with kidney disease have thinner layers at the back of the eye — the choroid and the retina — and this thinning relates to the amount of kidney damage. Using a new imaging technology called optical coherence tomography, Bean and his team will discover if the eye can be used as a window to diagnose and monitor kidney disease.   

  • Bean’s research is funded by an award of £197,629 in partnership with The Stoneygate Trust 

A new simple urine test to spot kidney transplant problems

Dr Tim Bowen and his team at Cardiff University are working on a new test that could predict delayed graft function — where the transplanted kidney fails to function straight after transplant — without the need for a biopsy. The urine test will quickly detect the levels of a molecules called microRNAs which can be used to predict the risk of delayed graft function. 

  • Tim’s research is funded by an Innovation Grant for £48,281 in partnership with The Stoneygate Trust. 

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