UKRO’s project grants are currently suspended. Prior to the establishment of the USC/UKRO Kidney Research Center, UKRO funded several rounds of seed funding for the earliest phases of cutting-edge research, when dollars are needed most. The purpose of our support was to allow scientists to gather crucial data that could lead to greater funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and eventual breakthroughs in the understanding and treatment of kidney disease.

As an example, Dr. Janos Peti-Peterdi, Professor of Physiology and Biophysics and Medicine at the Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute at the USC Keck School of Medicine, was awarded $60,000 to continue translational studies on urinary succinate as a novel mechanism and biomarker of diabetic kidney disease. The following year, an extended version of this research project was awarded three years of support from the American Diabetes Association in a total amount of $345,000. Read how succinate and GPR91 play a role in renovascular hypertension, also known as RVHT and in diabetic kidney disease.

In addition, Dr. Alicia McDonough, Professor of Cell and Neurobiology at the USC Keck School of Medicine, headed a collaboration with Dr. Rama Natarajan at the City of Hope in using a technique called siRNA, or small interfering RNA (a chemical cousin of DNA) to modulate the expression of specific proteins and pathways in the kidney that may cause hypertension or renal failure. Successful implementation of this method will allow scientists to more quickly identify pathways that may be causing disease and more quickly test whether a specific pathway would be a good target for therapeutic treatments. Read more about the project and its aims.

Dr. Alexander Pushkin from the Division of Nephrology at the University of California, Los Angeles, also investigated the structure and function of a sodium-bicarbonate transporter, with the long-term goal of developing treatments for acid-based disorders such as renal tubular acidosis. Read his final grant report here.

Once UKRO’s financial commitment to the Kidney Research Center has been fulfilled, further rounds of project grants may continue.