Division of Nephrology

Research Programs

Division of Nephrology Research Programs

The Program for Personalized Genomic Nephrology is funded by the New York Empire Clinical Research Program, with additional funding from the Columbia Institute of Genomic Medicine, to examine the opportunities, limitations and indications of genomic technologies for the care of patients with chronic kidney disease.  Through this program, patients with congenital, familial or undiagnosed disorders of the kidney undergo exome-sequencing free of charge to diagnose their underlying disease. This program then brings multidisciplinary expertise in Nephrology, Urology, Genetics, Pathology, Biomedical Informatics to devise a targeted work-up and surveillance care plan based on the patient’s underlying molecular defect. The program will measure the impact of interventions guided by personalized genomic diagnosis, such as the number of unsuspected clinical diagnoses made possible by the genomic workup and evaluation of consequent changes in care plan and evaluation of physician and patient knowledge/attitude before and after the availability of genomic diagnosis. The program also includes a component of patient and physician education through the Precision Medicine Resources at the Columbia CTSA. We anticipate that this project will generate many opportunities for basic and patient-oriented research. 

The CureGN Studyin the Center for Glomerular Diseases (UM1). This Center represents a one-of-a-kind collaborative effort between members of the Divisions of Nephrology and Renal Pathology at Columbia University. The Center is a referral destination for patients with rare inflammatory and immune-mediated diseases of the kidney and is actively engaged in clinical trials with over 35 clinical protocols. The Center is one of four Primary Clinical Centers for CureGN, a NIDDK sponsored multicenter cohort study of glomerular disease patients. The CureGN project will study 2,400 children and adults with four rare glomerular diseases to understand the natural history of disease and identify new genetic causes of diseases and novel biomarkers.Another specific aim of the CureGN study is to engage and educate investigators in clinical and translational research in glomerular diseases.  This study and its patient cohort will create a rich resource for patient oriented research in Glomerular disorders and rare inflammatory diseases of the kidney.

The Columbia University George M. O’Brien Urology Cooperative Research Center (U54).  Founded in 2014, this center is a collaboration between the Division of Nephrology and the Department of Urology. The Center consists of three collaborative Research Projects that are focused on the genomics of urinary tract malformations in humans and animal models, one Pilot Project and an Administrative Core that includes the Education Enrichment and Opportunity Pool Programs.  The Center will provide educational programs that will engage undergraduates, medical student and post-doctoral fellows in high-level research on important problems in Pediatric Urology. The Opportunity Pool Program is designed to bring new scientists into the field or develop new collaborative projects.

The Program for Precision Medicine for Acute Kidney Injury. Led by Dr. Barasch, the program aims to bring diagnostic clarity to patients with acute kidney failure. Recent changes in nomenclature have combined all causes of azotemia into a single entity called “AKI”, which contributes to diagnostic inaccuracy and delays appropriate treatments. Preliminary data in the Barasch Lab have demonstrated that different cells in the nephron respond to different “AKI” stimuli. Consequently, the aspiring clinician scientist will be trained to utilize genetic techniques to redefine AKI and to understand its varied natural histories and treatments: (1) create a genetic map of the nephron in response to different types of stimuli (ischemia, volume depletion, obstruction). (2) learn basic informatic approaches to curate RNA-seq data to identify unique genes and pathways in the setting of distinct stimuli and to (3) determine the relevance of the gene lists to Personalized Medicine by cross comparing mouse and human samples. This program has a patient-oriented research component, including studies in patients presenting to the Emergency Department.