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Research News

Breakthroughs in research in rare diseases by Drs. Shayman and Kretzler

"For patients with rare diseases, the unknowns are unending, the diagnoses difficult, and the treatments often non-existent. But research is bringing new hope."

Grant Award News

CDC grant supports U of M effort to monitor kidney disease

The University of Michigan Health System has been competitively re-selected by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to coordinate the nation's first dedicated system to monitor chronic kidney disease.

weblink to press release

Drs. Pennathur and Brosius to help lead major new diabetes complications project

University of Michigan earns $3.5 million to study cellular changes linked to diabetes-related blindness, nerve damage, kidney failure:

weblink to press release

Dr. Weitzel Awarded NIH Challenge Grant

Dr. WeitzelDr. Rick Weitzel has been awarded a NIH Challenge Grant for his work on the Doppler Smart Sensor for assessing dialysis accesses. This grant will make use of a novel measurement method, technologically advanced electronics and software to make a user-friendly, low-cost Doppler-based monitoring device tailored for dialysis access monitoring. This smart sensor will allow cost-effective, accurate flow monitoring during each dialysis treatment for every patient, which is essential to optimize combined sensitivity and specificity for this clinical application. The results of this proposal will:

  • Improve dialysis decision-making leading to a paradigm shift to optimize access monitoring.
  • Provide a platform Doppler device for other vascular applications.

Further, this project will actually reduce dialysis vascular access cost. Realistic estimates indicate $300 million in annual savings in the US alone, while stimulating jobs in the technical healthcare sector.

Nephrotic Syndrome Rare Disease Consortium

Kidney research consortium makes news - 10/4/2009

Researchers at the University of Michigan Health System have received a highly competitive five-year award to study rare kidney diseases with Drs. Matthias Kretzler, Akinlolu Ojo, and Lawrence B. Holzman, in Nephrology providing the leadership for the multicenter consortium.

The $10.25 million grant will support clinical/translational investigation of nephrotic syndrome, which describes a group of diseases that, although rare, generate an enormous individual and societal burden. Collectively, they comprise approximately 12 percent of cases of end stage kidney disease with an annual cost of more than $3 billion.

The Nephrotic Syndrome Rare Disease Consortium will bring together a network of investigators from the United States and Canada, and two highly active patient interest groups, the Nephcure Foundation and the Halpin Foundation, to create the necessary infrastructure for collecting clinical patient information and comprehensive molecular data sets to integrate molecular disease information with clinical studies and to train future researchers.

While the U-M will function as the central operational hub, renowned clinical investigators from 11 academic medical centers will make up the research team.

“The kidney community has had a strong interest in this work for a long time, but, until now, we have not had adequate funding for a coordinated effort. This has the potential to fundamentally change the way we understand and treat our patients, taking full advantage of the exciting opportunities offered by recent advances in molecular medicine,” says Kretzler.

One of the joint initiatives together with the Rare Disease Network at the National Institutes of Health will be to establish and maintain a Web-based educational and networking resource which will bring together patients, families, physicians and scientists.

James Shayman, M.D., associate vice-president for research, and instrumental in setting up the rare disease infrastructure at Michigan which led to the effective competition for this consortium, explains that “as a premier research institution, we’re well positioned to take advantage of a rapidly expanding knowledge of genetics and the power of bioinformatics to transform our understanding and treatment of rare diseases.”

O'Brien Kidney Center Core Grant

UM Press Release - 10/27/2008

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has awarded an O'Brien Kidney Center Core grant for $3.8 million over five years to the University of Michigan. The investigators are based in the Medical School (including the Departments of Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Pathology and Cell and Molecular Biology), other University Departments including the Life Sciences Institute, Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, Statistics and the School of Education, as well as industry and institutions nationally and internationally. U-M has received NIDDK funding for O'Brien Kidney Centers since 1988 under the direction of Dr. Roger C. Wiggins MB, BChir. This grant will fund the Center through 2013.

A multi-disciplinary team of kidney researchers will focus on how to apply knowledge gained in basic science, genetics and systems biology to people with kidney disease at the University of Michigan, Wayne State University, St. John's Hospital in Detroit and the University of Illinois-Chicago. The goal is to develop improved diagnosis, prevention strategies and treatments for people with kidney diseases.

For more information, please contact the Division of Nephrology in the Medical School at 734-936-4890.

Establishing a Surveillance System for Chronic Kidney Disease in the U.S. - UPDATE

  • Principal Investigator: Rajiv Saran, MD, MRCP, MS
  • Coinvestigators:
    • Eric Young, MD, MS
    • Brenda Gillespie, PhD
    • Friedrich Port, MD, MS (Arbor Research, Ann Arbor)
    • William Herman, MD
    • Randall Webb, BA
    • Jerry Yee, MD (Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit, MI

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) has been recognized as a national health priority. While surveillance systems for end stage renal disease (ESRD) are well established, the U.S. lacked a comprehensive, systematic surveillance program to capture and track the manifestations of CKD in the larger population of individuals who have varying degrees of CKD (pre-ESRD). In October 2006, two centers - the University of Michigan (UM) and Johns Hopkins University (JHU) - were simultaneously funded to initiate the development of a national CKD surveillance system for the U.S. The following is a summaryof the Common Protocol as well as the accomplishments of the project thus far:

  1. Six major topics relevant to CKD surveillance
    • disease burden
    • risk factors
    • awareness
    • processes of care
    • health outcomes
    • health system capacity

    and important measures were first identified after extensive discussion between UM and JHU teams, and input from the Steering Committee and Advisory Board.

  2. Several existing national/regional data sources were then identified, interviewed and entered in a database.

  3. Data were then obtained from selected datasources and analyzed with respect to the major topics and the top 5 measures.

  4. The results have been compiled in the form of the First Report of this national CKD surveillance system, which was submitted to the CDC and Advisory Board for review and comment on September 3, 2008. The final first report will be submitted to the CDC by September 29. Six abstracts and two manuscripts have resulted from this project (with more in preparation).

Reimbursement of Travel Expenses and Subsistence Costs for Living Organ Donors

Drs. Akinlolu Ojo and Robert Merion, and The American Society of Transplant Surgeons (ASTS) have received a major grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The 4-year grant will provide reimbursement of travel expenses and subsistence costs for living organ donors, removing an important financial disincentive to living organ donation. As part of the efforts to "increase organ donation," the UM-ASTS project team will work closely with HRSA to develop an efficient nationwide system to identify potential live organ donors who face financial hardship in meeting travel and subsistence expenses associated with the process of evaluation and undergoing live organ donation procedures. The project scientists will critically evaluate the specific impact of the reimbursement program on facilitating live organ donations that would not have otherwise been possible. Under provisions of the grant, a National Living Donor Assistance Center will be established at the ASTS National Office, and the vast majority of the $8 million grant will be used for direct reimbursements to potential and actual living donors.

The UM-ASTS Project Team consists of the following individuals:

  • Project Director: Akinlolu Ojo, MD, PhD (University of Michigan, Department of Internal Medicine)
  • Deputy Project Director: Robert M. Merion, MD (University of Michigan, Department of Surgery)
  • Project Manager: Katrina Crist, MBA (ASTS)
  • Project Research Scientist: Barry Hong, PhD (Washington University, St. Louis)

Under the leadership of this talented and proven team of professionals, it is estimated that the grant will make live organ donation possible for an additional 800-1,000 individuals annually.

Transplant News

UM Paired Kidney Exchange Program performs its first triple kidney transplant exchange

In the past year, the University of Michigan Kidney Transplant Program has reached several milestones. Early this year, our program transplanted its 5,000th kidney, and just last week the University of Michigan Paired Kidney Exchange Program performed its first triple kidney transplant exchange. The UM Paired Kidney Exchange Program, the initiative of Dr. Alan Leichtman, was inaugurated in November 2008. Since its inception, the program has enabled kidney transplantation in 19 patients who could not be transplanted with their only living donor due to blood type or HLA incompatibility. Using a computer-based algorithm, incompatible recipient and donor pairs are matched until a compatible donor-recipient combination is identified thereby allowing successful transplantation in two or more patients.

With the recent announcement of the selection of Transplantation as one of the clinical priorities for development in the UMHS Strategic Plan, the implementation of innovative transplant programs such as the UM Paired Kidney Exchange Program will be greatly facilitated.

For news stories from Channel 4 WDIV-TV Detroit about the recent triple kidney transplant exchange, click on the following links:

3-Pair Kidney Transplant Connects 6 (video)

New Medical Director of Transplantation joins Nephrology

Dr. SamaniegoPlease join us in welcoming Milagros (Millie) Samaniego-Picota, M.D. as the new Medical Director of Kidney and Kidney-Pancreas Transplantation for Nephrology, one of our most important clinical programs. Dr. Samaniego was chosen after a long search to find a transplant nephrologist with a strong background as both a clinician and proven administrator.

Dr. Samaniego is a nationally recognized expert in kidney transplantation who comes to us from the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she was an Associate Director and Chief of Transplant Services in the Section of Nephrology, and also served as Associate Director of the Transplant Fellowship program. She received her M.D. from the University of Panama, followed by an internship and residency at Baylor College of Medicine where she served as Chief Resident from 1993-1994. In 1996, Dr. Samaniego began post-doctoral training in Nephrology and Immunopathology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, training in transplant immunology and models of antibody-mediated rejection in the laboratory of Fred Sanfilippo and William Baldwin. Following this, she began as a Research Associate in Medicine and Pathology at Johns Hopkins, was promoted to Assistant Professor there until she moved in 2004 to the University of Wisconsin where she was promoted to Associate Professor.

We are most happy to welcome Dr. Samaniego to our division.

The following do not represent all of the releases that have been released by the University, only those pertaining to our Nephrology department. For a listing of all releases please check out the News Release page.

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