UT Southwestern receives $8.725 million renewal grant from NIH for kidney stone research

DALLAS – July 11, 2003 – The National Institutes of Health has renewed a projected $8.725 million, five-year grant to UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas to support the longest-running, federally funded research program on kidney stones in the country.

NIH program grants are awarded for projects that have a well-defined central research focus or theme. UT Southwestern’s first kidney-stone grant was awarded in 1972.

The new grant will allow researchers in the Center for Mineral Metabolism and Clinical Research to focus on five areas:

  • The gene found by UT Southwestern researchers to be responsible for absorptive hypercalciuria (too much calcium in urine caused by increased intestinal absorption);
  • The relationship of uric acid stone formation and insulin resistance;
  • The effect of ingested animal proteins in promoting kidney stones by creating a citrate deficiency in urine;
  • The role of estrogen in calcium handling by the kidney and kidney-stone formation; and
  • The importance of calcium and oxalate in stone formation.

“Our group has long been recognized for metabolic studies and in-depth evaluation of patients,” said Dr. Charles Y. Pak, director of the Center for Mineral Metabolism and Clinical Research and the Robert T. Hayes Center for Mineral Metabolism Research. “Now, we want to make sure the proposed metabolic studies are closely linked with complementary cellular-molecular studies. We also want to know why intestinal calcium absorption is increased in absorptive hypercalciuria and why urine is unusually acidic in gouty diathesis (uric acid stone formation from abnormally acidic urine).”

Earlier NIH-supported research has focused on the pathogenesis of kidney stone formation, formulation of a diagnostic test that can uncover abnormalities in urine responsible for forming stones, and the development of pharmaceuticals – including the world’s leading drug for this condition, Urocit-K – to prevent recurrence of stones. The mineral metabolism group has developed a computerized registry of more than 2,000 patients with recurrent kidney stones as a result of the last three decades of research.

Dr. Orson Moe, associate professor of internal medicine and deputy director of the Center for Mineral Metabolism and Clinical Research, has been responsible for integrating metabolic-clinical studies and cellular-molecular efforts in seeking to extend the UT Southwestern research and is co-principal investigator on the overall grant and on one of the five study areas.

Other principal investigators on individual projects are Dr. Khashayar Sakhaee, GCRC program director and chief of mineral metabolism; Dr. Joseph Zerwekh, professor of internal medicine; Dr. Patricia Preisig, professor of internal medicine; Dr. Margaret Pearle, associate professor of urology; and Dr. Chou-Long Huang, associate professor of internal medicine.


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Media Contact: Scott Maier
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