Kidney holes (=cysts) may be boring; however, understanding cystic kidney disease, a condition associated with renal failure, has become a fundamental key to comprehend kidney development and disease.

Defective cilia, thin thread-like structures attached to most body cells, seem to be responsible for kidney cysts as well as many other manifestations. Hence, deciphering how cilia with other signaling cascades to make cells form and maintain a complex organ, has become a challenging question in development biology and renal research. 

Cultured cells are useful to study linear signaling cascades; however, multicellular communication can only be studied in a complex cellular context. Thus, we have adopted animal models, ranging from C. elegans, Drosophila, zebrafish to Xenopus and mouse, and utilize each animal model for its specific strength. Combining animal models with advanced imaging, proteomics and genomics at the Centry for Systems Biology (ZBSA) not only reveals new insight into the molecular function of cilia, but also helps to identify the signaling pathways that are defective in kidney diseases. As a clinical department, heavily invested in developmental biology and signaling cascades, we are committed to bring results back to the bedside. One large clinical trial was initiated in Freiburg, to examine the utility of mTOR inhibitors in patients with cystic kidney disease.

Active Research Projects (selected)


In the European Framework Program FP7, investigators study the molecular function of OFD1, BBS, and NPHP proteins. 



In the European Framework Program FP7, investigators attempt to comprehend ciliary function at the systems biology level. 


SFB 592 (Signaling in embryogenesis and organogenesis)

In this developmental program, the Walz group examines the role of planar cell polarity (PCP) proteins in renal development (Project B7). 


SFB 746 (Functional specificity by coupling and modification of proteins)

In this program project, the Walz group is analyzing ciliary transport of proteins (Project P18).


BMBF (Biomarker for cystic kidney disease)

In project wants to identify and test the utility of novel biomarkers for the course of disease progression in patients with polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD). 

Universität Freiburg Universitätsklinikum Freiburg DFG