Scientists in Columbia’s Department of Urology and Division of Nephrology have been awarded a grant of over $8 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to establish the Columbia University George M. O’Brien Urology Cooperative Research Center. The grant, one of only two awarded in the U.S. this year, focuses on collaboration between basic and clinical scientists and will support benign urologic disease research.
The new Center brings together an experienced multidisciplinary team to explore important issues affecting adult and pediatric urology patients. Lead investigators on the three projects funded by the grant include Department of Urology faculty member Cathy Mendelsohn, Ph.D., and Division of Nephrology faculty members Jonathan Barasch, M.D., Ph.D., and Ali Gharavi, M.D. The Center counts the vigorous exchange of ideas, seamless data sharing and a multidisciplinary, collaborative approach among its core values, along with a commitment to educating the next generation of physician scientists within the field of urology.
The scientific aims of the research projects conducted within the O’Brien Center are highly interconnected and will investigate the origins and complications of vesicoureteral reflux, posterior urethral valves and related forms of urinary tract obstruction, birth defects in humans that are linked to kidney damage and end stage renal disease in children. Dr. Mendelsohn explains, “Our scientific goal is to identify mutations and genetic pathways that cause urinary tract obstruction and associated renal disease in humans by combining mouse models and human genetics.”
The O’Brien Center maintains an important link with the clinical program within the Department of Urology, a leading referral center for patients with urinary tract birth defects. The Center’s scientists are committed to collaborating with physicians to impact patient care, particularly within the Division of Pediatric Urology, where Shumyle Alam, M.D., Pasquale Casale, M.D., and Sarah Lambert, M.D., treat patients from around the world who stand to benefit greatly from the Center’s research.