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Two IU School of Medicine faculty honored at World Congress of Nephrology

  • June 25, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS -- Two Indiana University School of Medicine faculty were among seven established kidney researchers honored at the International Society of Nephrology World Congress of Nephrology May 31 to June 4 in Hong Kong.

Bruce A. Molitoris, M.D., professor of medicine and medical director for the Indiana Center for Biological Microscopy, received the International Society of Nephrology Bywaters Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to the understanding of acute renal failure. The biannual award honors its recipients for lifetime achievement in the field.

Dr. Molitoris, whose research interests include acute kidney injury from ischemia, sepsis and nephrotoxins, uses two-photon microscopy to study the cellular processes involved within the kidney.

His research in the field of acute kidney injury has been instrumental in understanding how the cells in the kidney respond to low blood flow and other toxins. Acute renal failure, where the kidneys suddenly quit working, occurs in about 20 percent of hospitalized patients and is estimated to cost the health care system $10 billion annually. Hospitalized patients who get acute kidney injury have a 60 percent chance of dying. For those who survive, the length of stay in the hospital is longer, and they are more likely to develop long-term kidney problems with a greater risk of needing dialysis or transplantation in the future. 

Dr. Molitoris was the director of the IU School of Medicine Division of Nephrology from 1993 to 2011. He has been the principal investigator at the Indiana O’Brien Center, one of nine National Institutes of Health-funded centers to specifically study kidney disease. The O’Brien Center has been instrumental in building the Indiana Center for Biological Microscopy. Its state-of-the-art imaging has allowed investigators from around the world to visualize real-time changes in the kidneys of living animals. 

IU School of Medicine professor of anatomy and cell biology Vincent H. Gattone, Ph.D., shared the Lillian Jean Kaplan International Prize with a researcher from Leiden University Medical Center in The Netherlands. Dr. Gattone is a leader in the field of kidney pathology and renal cystic disease research.

For more than 30 years, he has studied the processes that occur in polycystic kidney disease, the leading genetic cause of kidney failure in the world. People with the disease lose kidney function as the kidney is gradually replaced with large fluid-filled cysts.

Dr. Gattone, who is an adjunct professor in the Division of Nephrology, has developed multiple animal models for the study of polycystic kidney disease and has discovered unique pathways for its treatment. One of these pathways has led to research demonstrating that tolvaptan slows progression of cyst formation. This drug has led to studies in humans demonstrating similar findings.  This is the first drug ever shown to slow progression of polycystic kidney disease and is currently under review by the FDA. 

The Kaplan prize was created in 2002 and recognizes a medical researcher or clinician who has increased biomedical understanding of polycystic kidney disease. The award, which is presented every other year at the World Congress of Nephrology, carries a $50,000 prize and is one of the most significant awards in the medical research field.

Bruce A. Molitoris, M.D.

Bruce A. Molitoris, M.D.

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Vincent H. Gattone, Ph.D.

Vincent H. Gattone, Ph.D.

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Mary Hardin