Researchers and funders unite to launch centre to tackle kidney disease

The UCL Centre for Kidney & Bladder Health was formally launched on World Kidney Day 2024 with an afternoon featuring the latest research, attended by the leading research institutions, funders and patient representatives.

Kidney disease is the 10th biggest cause of mortality globally and affects around one in 10 people. In the UK, kidney failure alone accounts for around 3% of the NHS’s budget. Historically underfunded, leading charities recently warned that care costs for kidney disease patients could double to £13.9 billion in the next decade. 

The new Centre is the first to join up paediatric and adult care, in recognition of the fact that patients are on a journey that doesn’t stop when they hit adulthood. By pooling funding, resources and expertise, the Centre is choosing collaboration over competition in order to reduce overlaps and drive kidney research forward. Its main aim will be to develop prevention strategies, state-of-the-art diagnostics and treatments for those living with kidney and bladder disease.  

An audience of 100 researchers, patients and funders attended the launch of the Centre on World Kidney Day to hear about the on-going kidney and bladder research at UCL. 

New research featured at the launch included presentations on kidney transplants and the microbiome and a new class of drugs that has reduced chronic kidney disease progression by over a third.

Additionally, the launch of the new Centre coincides with the publication of a new study authored by UCL academics and the UK Kidney Association. The study found that patients with rare kidney diseases are 28 times more likely to experience kidney failure than those with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), suggesting that focusing on rare conditions could significantly reduce the burden of kidney disease on both patients and the NHS. 

The Centre is uniquely placed to deliver on these ambitious goals by bringing together discovery research and clinical practice from UCL’s Department of Renal Medicine and the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, with close ties to clinical services at the Royal Free and Great Ormond Street Hospitals. Research will take place in genetics, human development, physiology, chronic kidney disease, transplantation, and bladder issues. 

Professor David Long (UCL GOS Institute of Child Health), who co-led the development of the Centre, said: "We are incredibly pleased to bring together the scientific expertise of the Institute of Child Health Kidney Development and Disease Group at the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health with the world-leading researchers of UCL’s Department of Renal Medicine.  

"The UCL Centre for Kidney & Bladder Health’s core mission is to improve the lives of adults and children living with kidney disease, for which there is currently no cure, through clinical translational research." 

Professor Alan Salama (UCLRenal Medicine) said: "Around 1.2 million people in the UK have kidney disease but aren’t aware of it. I am hopeful that our new Centre for Kidney & Bladder Health will pioneer new advancements that will shift the dial in the treatment and diagnosis of kidney and bladder failure." 

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