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Kidney Disease

Over one-half of the U.S. population will develop chronic kidney disease during their lifetime. The most severe form of chronic kidney disease, end-stage renal disease, affects >500,000 Americans, and is marked by extremely poor long-term prognosis.

African Americans face a 3-4-times higher risk of end-stage renal disease than people of other ethnicities, making kidney disease one of the most striking examples of racial disparities in chronic disease.

Kidney disease has been a major scientific focus of the Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology & Clinical Research since its formation in 1989. Many landmark studies and clinical trials have been spearheaded by Welch Center faculty. For example, Welch Center faculty pioneered work in APOL1, a genetic variant common among African Americans that confers higher risk of end-stage renal disease. Faculty have conducted clinical trials in blood pressure management in chronic kidney disease, patient-oriented research in diet and its effect on kidney function, and technical work in laboratory standardization and improved estimation of kidney function, all of which have made major contributions to the scientific body of evidence behind chronic kidney disease classification and treatment. Currently funded research includes work in metabolomics and genomics, kidney function estimation, vitamin D, acute kidney injury, hyperkalemia, optimal treatment in advanced chronic kidney disease, and socioeconomic implications for diet and chronic kidney disease progression.

At the Welch Center, we are committed to training future leaders in the field of kidney disease. There is ample opportunity for trainees to conduct original research studies – mentored by award-winning faculty – using any number of population-based studies, national and international health systems databases, and randomized clinical trials available and/or run by Welch Center faculty.

Welch Center Core faculty with research interests in kidney disease include: Lawrence Appel, Joe Coresh, Deidra Crews, Morgan Grams, Kunihiro Matsushita, and Edgar Miller.