The Henry Wellcome Building for Molecular Physiology (also known as the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Physiology) is a purpose built laboratory building which was opened in September 2004 and is situated less than 5 minutes walk from the Renal Ward. It houses the oxygen sensing, B cell autoimmunity, molecular immunology and IgA nephropathy research groups attached to the Oxford Kidney Unit and also houses the Medical Sciences Division Proteomics facility and aStructural Bioinformatics group. Group leaders would welcome enquiries from trainee nephrologists who are interested in planning a higher degree in an appropriate scientific project.
Chris Pugh and David Mole work on the fundamental mechanisms by which organisms adapt to low oxygen tensions (hypoxia)with Peter Ratcliffe FRS, Nuffield Professor of Medicine. The group started studying the control element regulating the erythropoietin gene and discovered that the fundamental mechanisms involved were widespread, controlling a large number of processes including metabolic adaptation, angiogenesis and cell growth. The group has elucidated the underlying oxygen regulatory mechanisms controlling the activity of the transcription factor, hypoxia inducible factor, resulting inpublications in Nature, Science and Cell. The group is continuing to study the biological processes involved with a view to translating this knowledge towards clinical practice in the future. One particular area of interest is renalcancer, where mutations of the von Hippel Lindau gene disable the normal oxygen regulatory mechanism, affecting the phenotype of the cancer. The group receives funding from The Wellcome Trust, The Medical Research Council, The British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK and The European Commission. Over the years the group has provided basic science training to more than 10 junior nephrologists and a similar number of medical students doing intercalated doctorates.
Tolerance and Autoimmunity in Renal Disease
Within the OKU, Prof. Richard Cornall is interested in the immunology and genetics of autoimmune diseases that cause kidney failure, such as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) and vasculitis. These conditions are characterised by the development of antibodiesagainst self-proteins, which leads to organ damage. However, the pattern of disease varies greatly between individuals and the conditions have complex causes that are poorly understood. To discover why these conditions occur and how to treat them he is interested in generating new models for the scientific community and combining avariety of genetic and biochemical techniques. This work is funded by the Wellcome Trust.
Chris O'Callaghan's research group is studying how diseased cells identify themselves to the immune system for destruction. Cells which are infected with viruses, or which have become cancer cells, under go changes that allow them to be identified and destroyed by the body's immune system. Similar changes may also occur in blood vessels during the development of vascular disease leading to damage to the blood vessel wall. If the recognition system is overactive then tissue damage will occur inappropriately. If it is overactive after a transplant then the transplant will be rejected. If it is underactive then infections and cancers will not be tackled. We are studying the molecules involved in these recognition processes and the mechanisms that control these molecules. Ultimately, we hope that this will lead to the design of novel disease treatments that act on these molecules and their regulatory pathways. This work is funded by the Medical Research Council.
The Oxford Kidney Unit and the University of Oxford are actively contributing to the joint National Kidney Research Fund/MRC DNA collection for renal diseases. In Oxford there is a particular interest in the analysis of the IgA nephropathy collection with plans to perform both genome-wide and candidate geneanalysis.
Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism
Professor Raj Thakker's group studies genetic diseases affecting tubular function, particularly those affecting calcium, phosphate andurate homeostasis. Their laboratory is located in the Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism which is adjacent to the Oxford Kidney Unit. Further information.
Clinical Trial Service Unit & Epidemiological Studies Unit (CTSU)
Renal Studies Group
This group, which is run jointly by Drs Colin Baigent and Martin Landray, is situated in the brand new Richard Doll Building, about 5 minutes walk from the Oxford Kidney Unit. It has two main areas of focus: One objective is to identify ways of preventing vascular disease in chronic kidney disease, and we currently coordinate the Study of Heart and Renal Protection (SHARP), which is an international randomized trial of cholesterol-lowering therapy among 9,000 patients with chronic kidney disease in around 18 countries and 350 hospitals Secondly, we are developing epidemiological studies to quantify the relationship between minor degrees of renal impairment (e.g. glomerular filtration rate 60-90 ml/min/1.73m2) and risk of cardiovascular disease, and for this purpose have been testing a novel method of measuring iohexol clearance using capillary blood. We welcome enquiries from trainee nephrologists who are interested in planning a higher degree in renal epidemiology or who wish to gain experience of clinical trials. Further information.