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Press release


€10.5 million for kidney disease prevention research

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DFG approves new Collaborative Research Center

Approximately one in ten people in Germany are affected by chronic kidney disease, and numbers are increasing. Patients with the most severe form of the disease require long-term dialysis or a kidney transplant. As part of a new collaboration led by Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, researchers from various Berlin-based institutions set out to shed light on the common pathways along which kidney disease develops. The ultimate goal is to develop new treatment strategies. The German Research Foundation (DFG) provides the ‘Collaborative Research Center Renoprotection’ with approximately €10.5 million in funding over four years.

The term ‘chronic kidney disease’ refers to the progressive loss of kidney function which eventually ends in kidney failure. The condition is fatal unless the damaged organ’s function is restored by dialysis or the damaged organ itself is replaced via a transplant. The incidence of chronic kidney disease has doubled over the past ten years, and the condition now affects more than one in ten of the general population and one in three of those aged over 65. Acute kidney injury, which develops suddenly over the course of a few hours or days, is as serious and potentially life-threatening as chronic kidney disease. As with chronic kidney disease, the incidence of the condition is high: more than one in five adults admitted to hospital for treatment go on to develop acute kidney injury.

“We are hoping to develop tailor-made treatments for patients with these types of kidney disease,” explains the new Collaborative Research Center’s official spokesperson, Prof. Dr. Pontus Persson, Director of Charité’s Institute of Vegetative Physiology. “To do so, we need to first establish which multi-level processes result in kidney injury,” he adds. The new Collaborative Research Center will see researchers from different disciplines and institutes from across Charité, the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH), the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine, and the FMP (Leibniz Research Institute for Molecular Pharmacology) work together to study the signaling pathways involved in kidney injury.

Their future research will include determining the 3D structure of important proteins in addition to using magnetic resonance imaging to visualize poorly perfused areas and inflammatory processes inside the kidneys. Basic research, including cellular, tissue-level and animal model-based research, will be used to help develop new, targeted treatments which will prevent the development and progression of kidney injury. Any treatments that prove promising will then be tested further in clinical studies.

DFG Collaborative Research Centers
Collaborative Research Centers are institutions that facilitate long-term research collaborations that are both innovative and ambitious. Projects are initially funded for a period of four years. Following successful review, projects may be extended to cover two additional four-year funding periods.


Institute of Vegetative Physiology


Prof. Dr. Pontus Persson
Director of the Institute of Vegetative Physiology
Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin   
t: +49 30 450 528 162

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