FAU kidney researchers collaborate with Yale University and University College London

DAAD funds international collaboration with high six-figure sum

The number of cases of kidney disease has increased considerably in recent years. This is partly because of demographic change but also due to an increase in the number of cases of diabetes and high blood pressure. In Germany alone, around 80,000 people with chronic kidney disease currently need renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis or a transplant. Although kidney function has been researched extensively, in many areas research findings have not yet been translated into new, promising methods of treatment. In an attempt to change this, kidney researchers from FAU, Yale University and University College London (UCL) have come together to work on the TRENAL (Translational kidney research – from physiology to clinical application) project set up by Erlangen-based kidney specialists Prof. Dr. Kai-Uwe Eckardt (head of the Department of Medicine 4) and Dr. Felix Knauf. The collaboration is being funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) with a high six-figure sum as part of its programme ‘Strategische Partnerschaften und Thematische Netzwerke’ (strategic partnerships and thematic networks).

An interdisciplinary approach is needed to enable the results of kidney research to be put to use to benefit patients. In light of this, nephrologists, physiologists, nephropathologists and researchers – including members of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light in Erlangen – are all working together on the project. The newly established network will enable very different yet related areas of research to connect with one another in a productive way.

At the same time, the FAU researchers can use their connections with Yale and UCL to create links between complementary specialisations. While the researchers at Yale specialise in molecular biology and genetics, the researchers at UCL and FAU can provide access to comprehensive clinical trials. This allows the groups of researchers to investigate both genetic predisposition to kidney disease and malfunctions occurring in kidney cells, and to examine individual cases of rare, complex diseases.

The DAAD funding will enable the three universities to strengthen their connections and take the current exchange of research and medical expertise to the next level. For example, over the next four years students, researchers and doctors from Erlangen will have the opportunity to spend some time at one of the partner universities doing research or working in a clinical setting. At the same time, the kidney researchers at FAU will welcome colleagues from the USA and the United Kingdom. The virtual conferences and teaching units currently in place will be complemented by research symposia and summer schools that will be held once a year at each university in turn.

‘In this environment young and experienced researchers can expand and strengthen their network of international contacts, gain experience in research and healthcare systems in other countries, and improve their career chances. With this initiative FAU’s Faculty of Medicine is strengthening its existing contacts with leading research universities and testing a collaboration model based on a research priority,’ explains Prof. Dr. Jürgen Schüttler, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, clearly delighted with the success.

The DAAD programme ‘Strategische Partnerschaften und Thematische Netzwerke’ is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The ‘Thematische Netzwerke’ (thematic networks) branch of the programme supports networking with selected international universities based on shared interest in the same subjects and topics, and aims to help German universities to position themselves as leaders in international research by creating specialist centres.

Further information:

Prof. Dr. Kai-Uwe Eckardt
Dr. Felix Knauf
Phone: +49 9131 8539572, +49 913139568


Image: National Museum of Health and Medicine from MilitaryHealth, CC BY 2.0, via flickr

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