Research Programs

The Center has a number of research programs all of which are closely interrelated and collaborative. They are supported by a program project grant and 7 individual RO1 grants from the NIH to faculty in the Division of Nephrology and Hypertension, and an NIH training grant to provide research training to fellows in the division. The major research programs include the following:

1. Oxidative stress in the kidney and blood vessels in hypertension. This is the focus of the Program Project Grant from the NIH. This contains projects that cover diverse topics, including microvascular physiology in small mesenteric arterioles and individual afferent arterioles from the kidneys of rat and mouse models of oxidative stress and hypertension, proximal tubule transport using micropuncture, individual cell studies, whole animal studies of blood pressure, renal function, and renal oxygenation, studies of angiogenesis and growth of kidneys and blood vessels, and studies focusing on genes and factors that activate them in these models.

2. Basis for sex difference in kidney and cardiovascular disease. These projects utilize animal models of the human menopause, and genetic alterations of the systems which regulate the effect of gender. The aim is to understand why women are protected from cardiovascular and kidney disease until menopause.

3. Diabetes and its renal complications. This research uses animal models of diabetes mellitus to investigate the role of oxidative stress in the kidney and blood vessels that accompany diabetes and lead to progressive loss of kidney function and cardiovascular diseases.

4. Translational studies of human microvessels. This research utilizes techniques developed in the Centre to study microvessels in animals and applies these to study blood vessels dissected from a gluteal skin biopsy of human subjects. The initial studies focused on vascular defects in patients with early hypertension or kidney disease. Current studies focus on those with HIV/AIDS. The vessels are taken to the laboratory to assess vascular function, oxidative stress and gene expression to understand for the first time the mechanisms that lead to early cardiovascular disease in human blood vessels.

5. Studies of circulating markers of oxidative stress. This research uses novel techniques for analysis of plasma and urine samples using capillary zone electrophoresis. This permits investigators to assess circulating or excretory markers of oxidative stress, inflammation, and vascular dysfunction in patient studies.

6. Controlled clinical trials of antihypertensive therapy. These studies are large collaborative trials in which faculty participate to assess the effect of novel treatments for hypertension and kidney disease in large patient populations.
The primary clinical research programs in the Division of Nephrology and Hypertension include:

  • New drugs for treatment of hypertension or kidney diseases (Christopher Wilcox, MD, PhD.).
  • New cardiovascular risk factors and their treatment in patients with renal disease (Shakil Aslam, MD, Christopher Wilcox, MD, PhD.).
  • Treatment trials for antihypertensive drugs (Vasilios Papademetriou MD).
  • Genetic basis for kidney disease in African Americans (Michael Lipkowitz MD)