iPSC derived kidney organiod. Image courtesy of Ioannis Bantounas, Sue Kimber and Adrian Woolf.


The University of Manchester and the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital are at the forefront of translational research into children’s and familial kidney disease. Accordingly, our research vision for the next decade incorporates the following sequence:

  1. Definition of the genetic causes of disease in our cohorts with kidney and bladder disease.
  2. Discovery of predictive biomarkers in children with kidney and renal tract disease.
  3. Definition in preclinical trials of the efficacy and safety of novel therapies (e.g. precursor cells and growth factors) to delay the need for dialysis.
  4. The testing of novel therapies in children with renal disease, and the refinement of existing therapies via randomised prospective national trials.

Our principal investigators include international experts in kidney malformations and renal stem cells (Professor Adrian Woolf, Chair of Paediatric Science), renal cell biology (Dr Rachel Lennon, Wellcome Trust Intermediate Fellow) and clinical trials in glomerular disease, renal transplantation and bladder dysfunction (Professor Nick Webb, Director of the Manchester NIHR / Wellcome Trust Children’s Clinical Research Facility). We are currently funded by the MRC, NIHR, the Wellcome Trust and the major kidney research charities. We also have strong existing research links locally (e.g. Genomic Medicine in CMFT/FMHS and the Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Matrix Research and the Manchester Tissue Regeneration and Stem Cell Network) and nationally (e.g. the UK Regenerative Medicine Platform, the Medicines for Children Research Network, the UK Registry for Rare Kidney Diseases, the UK Vesicoureteric reflux DNA Collections).


Professor Martin Lowe

Professor of Cell Biology
Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health
Professor Lowe’s University Profile

Lowe syndrome; renal tubular disorder

The Lowe lab is studying the mechanisms underlying the rare genetic disorder Lowe syndrome, which manifests as neurological, ocular and renal symptoms. The lab is using cultured cell models and zebrafish larvae to dissect the renal dysfunction that occurs in Lowe syndrome, and has generated a variety of zebrafish lines for this purpose. In addition to studying disease mechanisms the Lowe lab has also generated zebrafish reporter strains to assess renal function in vivo, which can be used to screen for drugs that rectify the renal symptoms seen in Lowe syndrome. Importantly, the renal reporter strains may also be used to investigate any renal tubular disorder, or to screen for renal toxicity or damage induced by drugs or environmental factors.


Professor Adrian Woolf

Chair in Paediatric Science
Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health
Central Manchester Foundation Trust
Professor Woolf’s University Profile

Cellular Repair in Kidney Disease

Professor Woolf’s main research aim is to find out why people are sometimes born with abnormal kidneys, ureters and bladders, which are the main causes of children needing long term renal dialysis and kidney transplantation.  Professor Woolf is also working on translational therapies, based on growth factors and precursor cells, for kidney, bladder and more recently, neural disease.  This includes VEGFC, as a potential new treatment.

Professor Phil Kalra

Consultant Nephrologist: Imaging, Genomics and Proteomics Research Group
Salford Royal Foundation Trust
Professor Kalra’s Greater Manchester Nephrology Network Profile

Large Cohort Clinical Trials in Chronic Kidney Disease

Professor Phil Kalra was appointed consultant at Salford Royal in 1995. He has clinical interests in Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) and renal transplantation.   He is the departmental research lead with a profile in research into renovascular disease and in cardiovascular disease in CKD.

Professor Kalra is the chair for NIHR CRN Renal Disorders Speciality, a member of the KR-UK research grants committee and chair of the UK Renal Research Collaboration’s Cardio-Renal clinical speciality group.

Professor Kalra has been involved in numerous clinical trials, including his current CRISIS Trial on the outcomes of CKD. The CRISIS trial has collected upwards to 3000 blood and serum samples from patients with CKD, with complete research ethics. His research has resulted in the publication of 162 peer reviewed articles and 19 book chapters, as of April 2016.

Dr Rachel Lennon

Wellcome Trust Intermediate Clinical Fellow
Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health
Central Manchester Foundation Trust
Dr Lennon’s University Profile
Dr Lennon’s Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Matrix Research Profile

Nephrology and Cell Matrix of the Glomerulus

Dr Lennon’s research is focussed on understanding mechanisms of glomerular disease, the leading cause of chronic kidney disease in adults and children, as there is a massive unmet need to improve early detection and targeted treatment. The glomerular capillary wall is a highly sophisticated filtration barrier that comprises specialised endothelial cells, the glomerular basement membrane and podocytes. Cell-matrix adhesion is fundamentally required for barrier integrity and ultimately for renal survival. Dr Lennon’s research group have developed, optimised and utilised proteomic approaches to define the molecular landscape of cell-matrix adhesion in the glomerulus and have therefore, created an ideal setting to interrogate disease processes in a global manner. Her ultimate aims are to improve our understanding of mechanisms of disease which will be the first step towards developing disease targeted treatment for children and adults with glomerular disease.


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