Research is integral to the UNC Kidney Center’s mission to reduce the burden of chronic kidney disease through discovery about the pathophysiology and therapeutics of kidney disease. Our multidisciplinary research is funded through a variety of external sources, including the National Institutes of Health (P01, T32, U01, K23 awards) foundations, private donors and corporate grants.
For over thirty years, community nephrology offices, the UNC Division of Nephrology and the UNC Nephropathology Laboratory have worked together through the Glomerular Disease Collaborative Network (GDCN) to enhance research efforts for patients diagnosed with glomerular disease. The foundation of the GDCN is its registry of over 3,600 patients diagnosed with glomerular disease who have agreed to share clinical data and biologic samples. Data and samples are used for epidemiologic studies and a wide range of basic science and translational research projects.
The successes of the GDCN registry helped the UNC Kidney Center become one of four primary clinical centers in the Cure Glomerulonephropathy Network (CureGN), a longitudinal, multicenter cohort study of glomerular disease patients funded by the NIH. The CureGN project aims to recruit and follow 2,400 children and adults with nephrotic syndrome and provide an infrastructure to allow research that will answer the questions commonly asked by patients that we are still unable to adequately answer.
Basic Science Research
Over 9,000 biologic samples have been collected under the GDCN biorepository from patients with kidney disease, disease controls, and healthy controls. These samples, paired with associated clinical data, are used by the UNC Kidney Center’s research laboratories to better understand the pathogenesis of disease, the effects of therapy of disease processes, the biology of remission and relapse, and possible biomarkers for disease.
Investigators are also leading the charge to study the effect of interventions on patients with kidney disease through the development and participation in a variety of clinical trials. In a clinical trial, participants receive specific interventions according to the research plan or protocol created by the investigators. These interventions may be medical products, such as drugs or devices; procedures; or changes to participants' behavior, such as diet.