Grand opening of the Kidney Research Centre

May 3, 2007

The University of Ottawa, in partnership with the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and The Ottawa Hospital, will inaugurate its Kidney Research Centre on Thursday, May 3 at 10:30 a.m., located in the new addition to Roger-Guindon Hall which also houses the faculties of Health Science and of Medicine.

The Kidney Research Centre (KRC), established in 2000, is Canada’s first research facility devoted exclusively to the investigation of kidney diseases, which affect thousands of Canadians. The research projects undertaken by the KRC have a direct impact on the lives of patients suffering from kidney diseases.

The 1,400 square metre facility, located on the second floor of the addition, houses laboratories featuring state of the art equipment and is dedicated, at this time, to four major research programs, including research on the principal causes of kidney failure.

The main characteristic of the Centre is the single open-space concept laboratory, designed to foster research collaboration and create a dynamic work environment for the five KRC scientists and their research teams.

The new Centre is dedicated to pure research and will play a leadership role in the elaboration of new strategies to improve early detection and treatments of kidney diseases. The Centre will also be responsible for educating a new generation of leaders in the kidney research field, including graduate students and university researchers from Canada and around the world.

During the inauguration, four or five laboratory stations will be accessible along with researchers to answer questions.

What: Inauguration of the Kidney Research Centre

When: Thursday, May 3, 2007, at 10:30 a.m.

Where: Foyer of the Kidney Research Centre, Roger-Guindon Hall
(451 Smyth Road)

Nadine Saint-Amour
Media relations officer
University of Ottawa
613-562-5800, ext. 3149
613-724-8326 cell phone


Kidney Disease
Kidney disease is a national health care problem, with potentially devastating consequences for patients and their families. Many kidney diseases are characterized by their relentless progression to kidney failure, and unfortunately, there are few treatments that reliably halt this course. The number of Canadians who rely on kidney replacement dialysis therapy to survive has more than doubled over the last decade, and experts are predicting a growing epidemic of chronic kidney disease in Canada.

Fast facts about the kidneys and kidney disease:
• The main job of the kidneys is to remove wastes from the blood and return the cleaned blood back to the body. Every day the kidneys filter about 150 litres of blood.
• An estimated two million Canadians have kidney disease or are at risk.
• Over 30,000 Canadians suffer from kidney failure and require dialysis or a transplant to stay alive.
• Major causes of kidney disease include diabetes, high blood pressure and glomerulonephritis.

The Kidney Research Centre
The Kidney Research Centre (KRC) was established in 2000. It is affiliated with the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Medicine, the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and The Ottawa Hospital.

In 2002, after an intense and competitive review process, the KRC was awarded a grant of $8.6 million from the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Ontario Innovation Trust to construct and equip a new 1,400 square metre facility at the University of Ottawa’s Health Sciences Campus on Smyth Road. Construction was completed at the end of 2006 and the facility now houses five scientists, each with a team of postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, undergraduates and technical staff (totalling close to 40 people).

The new facility includes updated research laboratories, a state-of-the-art tissue analysis lab, a cell culture facility and room for up to three additional research teams. When it is filled, the KRC will be one of the largest centres in North America dedicated to kidney research. Three of the five KRC scientists are also practicing clinicians, and as a whole, the group works closely with nephrologists conducting patient research studies at the Riverside Campus of The Ottawa Hospital.

Kidney Research Centre Researchers
• Dr. Kevin Burns is the Director of the Kidney Research Centre. His research focuses on the effect of diabetes on blood flow and filtration in the kidneys. In the past five years, his work in animal models and cells has uncovered a new enzyme in the kidney (ACE2), which may play a role in preventing progressive kidney damage.

• Dr. Richard Hébert studies the effects of commonly used anti-inflammatory medications on kidney function. Recently, his lab has shown that diabetes alters the levels of inflammatory products called prostaglandins and their receptors in the kidney, suggesting that these compounds may be involved in causing diabetic nephropathy.

• Dr. David Levine investigates the molecular factors that control filtration in the kidney and play a role in kidney disease. Dr. Levine’s lab is the first in the world to directly study microscopic kidney filters in animal models. He says, “We directly measure the abnormal function of these filters and correlate these findings with the progression of the kidney disease.”

• Dr. Chris Kennedy studies abnormalities in the growth and function of the podocyte cells that form the blood filtration apparatus in the kidney. In recent studies, his lab has developed and characterized an animal model of the kidney disease focal segmental glomerular sclerosis (FSGS) which represents the first step before development of new treatment approaches to this condition.

• Dr. Rhian Touyz holds the Canada Research Chair in Hypertension and studies the role of hypertension in kidney disease. Her laboratory has recently made important discoveries related to the adverse effects of high blood pressure on blood vessel function, and the role of generation of toxic substances called reactive oxygen species in causing vascular disease, which accompanies most kidney diseases.

The KRC basic researchers listed above work closely with clinical researchers including Drs. Ayub Akbari, Greg Knoll, Peter Magner, Marcel Ruzicka and Deborah Zimmerman. Current clinical studies in patients are focused on:
• Improving the early detection of kidney disease.
• Finding better treatments to prevent kidney transplant failure.
• Improving the lives of people on dialysis.
• Discovering the causes of high blood pressure in people with kidney disease.