News Release

Philadelphia, August 29, 2022—In an effort to improve the lives of children and adults with kidney disease, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and Penn Medicine are jointly launching the Penn-CHOP Kidney Innovation Center. The first-of-its-kind center will advance research to transform patient care for those of all ages, focusing on the early detection, prevention, and treatment of kidney disease and its complications.

“More than 850 million people suffer from kidney disease, and kidney disease is one of the fastest growing causes of death, so there is a pressing need to accelerate breakthroughs in our understanding and treatment of the condition,” said co-director Katalin Susztak, MD, PhD, a professor of Nephrology and Genetics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. “This center will draw from experts across both institutions, using interdisciplinary collaboration as the driving force to accelerate research that improves the health and well-being of all patients with kidney disease.”

The center will focus on three main areas: fostering cutting-edge discoveries through collaboration between Penn and CHOP; recruiting and growing top talent to key areas that align with the center’s mission; and building the next generation of nephrology researchers through an enhanced training and mentorship program.

“By bringing pediatric and adult kidney researchers under one umbrella, we will accelerate the pace of discovery for both populations,” said co-director Michelle Denburg, MD, MSCE, Director of Research for the Division of Nephrology at CHOP and an associate professor of Pediatrics and Epidemiology at Penn. “Some processes of kidney disease are shared in adults and children, and others are unique, but in both cases, promoting crosstalk between researchers can shed light on mechanisms of disease for both children and adults and lead to precise diagnostics and treatments.”

The Kidney Innovation Center brings together scientists in clinical epidemiology, biostatistics, bioinformatics, computational biology, genetics, pathology, physiology, biochemistry, immunology, genomics, pharmacology, psychology, and education. Researchers will take a bench-to-bedside, big data approach, investigating the molecular pathways, genetics, and biochemistry involved in kidney disease and identifying targets for potential therapies.

The center will promote a culture of cooperation and discovery among researchers at CHOP, Penn, and beyond by hosting an Annual Kidney Life Course Research Symposium, as well as regular meetings, journal clubs and shared resources. It will also grow local talent through training in the latest research methods and the administration of a pilot grant program.

Learn more here about research already underway in Susztak’s laboratory, which explores the molecular pathways that govern chronic kidney disease development, and in the NIH-funded CHOP Pediatric Center of Excellence in Nephrology.

Penn Medicine is one of the world’s leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, excellence in patient care, and community service. The organization consists of the University of Pennsylvania Health System and Penn’s Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine, founded in 1765 as the nation’s first medical school.

The Perelman School of Medicine is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $550 million awarded in the 2022 fiscal year. Home to a proud history of “firsts” in medicine, Penn Medicine teams have pioneered discoveries and innovations that have shaped modern medicine, including recent breakthroughs such as CAR T cell therapy for cancer and the mRNA technology used in COVID-19 vaccines.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System’s patient care facilities stretch from the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania to the New Jersey shore. These include the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, Chester County Hospital, Lancaster General Health, Penn Medicine Princeton Health, and Pennsylvania Hospital—the nation’s first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional facilities and enterprises include Good Shepherd Penn Partners, Penn Medicine at Home, Lancaster Behavioral Health Hospital, and Princeton House Behavioral Health, among others.

Penn Medicine is an $11.1 billion enterprise powered by more than 49,000 talented faculty and staff.

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