Today at the USC/UKRO Kidney Research Center, vital work is underway to unlock the mysteries of kidney disease.

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Research Spotlight

USC’s Synthetic Kidney Project

Stem cell and kidney experts from the Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research, the USC/UKRO Kidney Research Center, and other labs across USC have teamed up to push the boundaries of research and build a synthetic kidney to replace normal kidney function in patients. While this project is still in its early stages, the ultimate goal is to generate a substitute, transplantable organ from a patient’s own skin cells, eliminating the need for immunosuppressant drugs. The project’s two leading investigators are uniquely positioned to take on this challenge. Andrew McMahon, Ph.D., is one of the world’s leading authorities in stem cell research and commands an encyclopedic knowledge of kidney development. Zhongwei Li, Ph.D., specializes in creating the early building blocks of the kidney through the use of pluripotent stem cells. UKRO is proud to support this groundbreaking research through its contributions to the USC/UKRO Kidney Research Center.

Stem cell experts Zhongwei Li, Ph.D. and Andrew McMahon, Ph.D.

Watch Videos About the Synthetic Kidney Project

The Future of Kidney Disease – The Synthetic Kidney from Keck School of Medicine of USC on Vimeo.

Henry David

UKRO mourns the loss of our wonderful friend, supporter, and long-time board member and Chief Financial Officer, Henry David, who passed away on November 8, 2021. A living-donor kidney transplant recipient and former dialysis patient, Henry understood the need for more concentrated research to help relieve the suffering of kidney patients throughout the world. He was an enthusiastic supporter of the scientific work in the labs at USC to perfect a synthetic kidney. We are sorry that Henry won’t see the results of these groundbreaking efforts, but we are grateful for his friendship and commitment to making life better for others. Henry was an integral part of our core team and the organization was greatly enhanced by his creative ideas and his willingness to work hard for the cause.

Henry was a lifelong resident of the San Fernando Valley and a thoughtful, loving, and supportive family man. A gifted entrepreneurial businessman, he began as an intern at Melco Wire Products in Glendale in 1961 and retired as President and CEO in 2000, when he closed the factory. In the intervening years, he also established Melco Trading Company, brokering commodities, and the Coronado Cement Company, importing shiploads of cement into San Diego. In 2000, Melco Engineering—which Henry continued to run—began operation as a virtual firm manufacturing tools for blood-bank donor rooms. He was a member of the Transplant Recipients International Organization (TRIO) and served on the board of directors of TRIO’s Ventura County West Valley Chapter.

Henry was one of a kind, a true gentleman, compassionate, generous, and full of hope and humor. We miss him already. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones.