Innovations in Pediatric Nephrology and Urology: Spotlight on Congenital Urinary Tract Obstruction

Innovations in Pediatric Nephrology and Urology: Spotlight on Congenital Urinary Tract Obstruction 150 150 Erin Gregory

Congenital urinary tract obstruction poses significant challenges for pediatric patients, compelling innovative approaches in urology. Nationwide Children’s Hospital pioneers research in this field, focusing on understanding the complexities of urinary tract conditions. Two labs within the Kidney and Urinary Tract Center at Nationwide Children’s are spearheading efforts to unravel the intricacies of urinary tract obstruction, genitourinary conditions, and kidney health.

Addressing the Unknowns of Urinary Tract Obstruction

Ashley Jackson, PhD, a principal investigator at the Kidney and Urinary Tract Center, is committed to deciphering the complexities of renal urothelial remodeling, crucial in congenital and acquired urinary tract obstruction. Drawn to the puzzle-solving aspect of biomedical research, she found her calling in investigating urinary tract conditions. Her decision to pursue her work at Nationwide Children’s stemmed from the collaborative and supportive environment fostered by the institution, where interdisciplinary interactions are encouraged through initiatives like the Nephrology and Urology Research Affinity Group (NURAG).

Dr. Jackson is spearheading research on renal urothelial remodeling, utilizing genetically and surgically modified mice, including the innovative Megabladder mouse, to model human urinary tract obstruction. The interdisciplinary collaboration, particularly with the Nephrology and Urology Research Affinity Group, is pivotal in translating findings into novel therapeutic targets.

“We approach our research objectively,” says Dr. Jackson. “We tediously characterize our samples and let the data take us down the correct path. The goal is to develop therapies that preserve kidney structure and function for children facing urinary tract obstruction.”

Driven by the impact on pediatric chronic kidney disease, the team is determined to pave the way for innovative treatments.

The Impact of Urinary Tract Obstruction on Kidney Health

Brian Becknell, MD, PhD, a pediatric nephrologist and principal investigator for the Kidney and Urinary Tract Center, is dedicated to understanding the intricate interplay between urinary tract obstruction, kidney development, and defense mechanisms against bacterial infection.

“The primary focus of our research is on studying how the kidney protects itself from bacterial infection,” says Dr. Becknell. “We established mouse models simulating urinary tract obstruction and infection, while translational studies aim to identify urine biomarkers associated with adverse outcomes.”

Leveraging electronic medical records as a data source, Dr. Becknell’s research furthers our understanding of predictors of adverse outcomes. The multidisciplinary approach exemplifies the effectiveness of teams in coordinating care, advocating for patients, and answering critical research questions.

Charting the Course Towards Comprehensive Advancements

In spring 2024, the Kidney and Urinary Tract Symposium will serve as a platform for experts to convene and discuss the latest research and clinical practices in congenital urinary tract obstruction. By fostering collaboration, encouraging mentorship, and pushing the boundaries of scientific inquiry, Nationwide Children’s Hospital remains committed to its mission to transform pediatric urology and improve the lives of children worldwide.

“At Nationwide Children’s, the commitment to advancing pediatric urology is evident through groundbreaking research initiatives aimed at understanding and addressing complex issues affecting young patients,” says Dr. Becknell. “Through collaborative efforts and innovative research, we are driving advancements that promise better outcomes for children with urinary tract conditions.”

As we look forward to the goals set for the year, Nationwide Children’s Hospital remains at the forefront of pediatric urology research. Through the dedication of our scientists and medical professionals, we continue to redefine the landscape of pediatric kidney care.

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