Bladder and Kidney Health
Bladder and Kidney Health Discovery Program
The Bladder and Kidney Health Discovery Program is a multidisciplinary science and medical consortium striving to improve our understanding of health conditions affecting the urinary tract (urethra, bladder, ureters and kidneys). Our program aims to discover new therapies for urinary tract infections, rare diseases (e.g. cystinuria), diabetic kidney disease, renal transplantation and cancer.
Connect with the Bladder and Kidney Health Discovery Program
Who we are
The Bladder and Kidney Health Discovery program consists of over 50 world-class scientists and clinicians passionate about improving our understanding of conditions that impact the urinary tract and finding improved ways to diagnose, manage, prevent and treat these complex conditions. Our program unites expertise from immunology, microbiology, infectious diseases, sexual health, diabetes, renal medicine and urology.
The executive team
Urinary tract infection
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are extremely common, affecting more than 405 million people a year worldwide. Furthermore, infections are becoming increasingly challenging to treat due to the rising rates of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Recurrent or chronic infection represents a significant global healthcare problem with one in four women experiencing recurrent infections within 6-12 months of their initial infection. Our program is tackling this problem through multi-disciplinary discovery and translational research to improve diagnostics, better understand the mechanisms driving susceptibility to infection and develop improved therapies.
Paediatric and rare diseases
We are inspired by our long-term commitment to improving the lives of children who suffer from chronic bladder and kidney problems, including cystinuria, a rare genetic disease resulting in recurrent kidney stones. We have taken significant strides in evolving novel preventative therapeutic strategies in treating cystinuria, using personalised medicine approaches and engaging with leading international industry partners to create the next generation of cystinuria treatments. Planning is underway for Australia’s first clinical trial for cystinuria.
A healthy microbiome (the ecosystem of bacteria) is crucial for supporting optimal reproductive and sexual health in women. Disruption of the vaginal microbiome increases the risk of acquiring sexually transmitted infections and of having adverse pregnancy outcomes, including preterm birth. The optimal urogenital microbiome in men and its role in supporting reproductive and sexual health has not been established. Furthermore, the exchange of urogenital microbiomes between sexual partners and how these influence health outcomes is unknown. Our research program aims to characterise the composition of the urogenital microbiome of men and their partners to identify what organisms are optimal for health and which organisms contribute to adverse outcomes. We will also explore the urinary microbiome in urinary tract infections, expanding our understanding of the microbiome in health and disease.
Chronic kidney disease
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a severe and life-limiting kidney condition affecting the filtration and removal of waste from the blood. 1 in 10 Australian adults are affected by CKD and individuals may lose 90% of their kidney function before experiencing symptoms. This lack of awareness of symptoms can mean that many cases are not detected until they have progressed to a severe stage, requiring dialysis or transplantation for survival. There are limited effective medicines that can prevent the onset or progression of CKD, and there is a lack of understanding of disease triggers. Our research will investigate the underlying causes and factors driving the progression of CKD to identify new therapeutic targets and biomarkers of disease progression to improve diagnosis and treatment.
Cancers of the urogenital system include kidney, bladder, testis, penile and prostate cancers. Our prize-winning research team has pioneered advances in the diagnosis of prostate cancer through our finding of near-zero infection rates when prostate biopsies are performed via the skin instead of the rectum. Diagnostic accuracy in prostate cancer has also been optimised using our cutting-edge imaging technology. Our research will focus on developing highly accurate diagnosis strategies, to enable the most appropriate treatments for all urogenital cancers.