Renal disease is a silent killer: only a small loss in renal function increases morbidity and mortality. However, in most cases the cause remains unknown. Novel techniques have uncovered many genes implicated in renal disease, but gene identification rarely provides the mechanistic insight that is required to understand and to treat renal disease.
NephroLab of the Renal Division at the University Freiburg Medical Center in Freiburg has therefore developed a novel approach that leads from gene discovery to potential therapies through comparative analysis of gene function in various experimental model systems. Several independently funded research groups (including Emmy-Noether-Groups) support this effort, exploring the function of genes in cell culture systems, C. elegans, Drosophila, zebrafish, Xenopus and mice with the ultimate goal to find new therapies for renal diseases.
The main research areas (with a lot of exciting overlap) are:
- Kidney development (G. Walz)
- Cilia and signaling (G. Walz, M. Köttgen, W. Kühn, P. Walentek)
- Hereditary kidney diseases (M. Köttgen, W. Kühn, E. Neumann-Haefelin, C. Bergmann, G. Walz)
- Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome (E. Neumann-Haefelin)
- Glomerular biology - nephrotic syndrome (T. Hermle, E. Widmeier, W. Bechtel-Walz)
- Epigenetics of kidney diseases (W. Bechtel-Walz, E. Neumann-Haefelin)
- mTOR signaling (E. Neumann-Haefelin, Athina Ganner)
- Acute kidney injury and repair (G. Walz)
NephroLab combines the challenge to understand and treat renal disease with the mission to educate and train young PhD students and physicians to assume leading positions in academia and industry.