U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Kidney, Urologic, and Hematologic Disease Topics

The Division of Kidney, Urologic, and Hematologic Diseases (KUH) supports research on the basic mechanisms of organ and tissue function and on the diseases of the kidney, urologic, and hematologic systems.  KUH supports projects that help develop an understanding of the physiology, pathophysiology, and related diseases of the kidney, urinary tract, and blood and blood-forming systems so that rational treatments and means of prevention and/or arrest of diseases may be devised.  Projects that promote advances in the technology of cell and molecular biology and that will enhance research in kidney, urologic, and hematologic diseases are encouraged. Research opportunities of interest to small businesses include, but are not limited to:

I. Development of a Genomic Toolbox for the Study of Kidney, Prostrate, Bladder, or Red Cells, which would include: 

  1. Library generation and gene identification from whole organ or rare compartments in normal, developing, or injured tissues. 
  2. Antibodies or phage libraries that will facilitate the prospective identification and purification of renal cell types. 
  3. Strategies to deal with the anatomical complexity, increase the representation of low abundance transcripts, or decrease the redundant sequencing of over-represented or known genes. 
  4. Bioinformatics tools. 
  5. Flexible databases useful for designing organ-specific databases and websites. 
  6. Techniques for visualizing RNA distribution within cells or tissues.
  7. New methods to acquire material from archival samples. 

II. Application of Proteomics and Metabbolomics to Kidney, Urologi and Hematologic Diseases

  1. Identification of surrogate markers in the plasma or serum that correlate with acute or chronic kidney disease, urologic diseases of the prostate or bladder, or disregulation of iron metabolism or other hematologic diseases (not leukemia), such as hemoglobinopathies or thalassemia. 
  2. Identification or development of novel proteomic or metabolomic technologies designed to study kidney, urologic, or hematologic diseases. 

III. Kidney

  1. Development of antibodies or phage libraries specific for the individual cell types of the kidney. 
  2. Development of both data and cell banks of diabetic kidney disease families and autosomal and recessive polycystic disease families for use by the research community. 
  3. Development of pharmacological agents that might be used to intervene in acute or chronic renal disorders and in disorders of renal hemodynamics, blood pressure, and extracellular volume regulation.
  4. Means to improve physiologic homeostasis in maintenance dialysis therapy through the: 
    1. Improvement of blood access to permit continuous access to the circulation. 
    2. Development of means to provide for continuous anti-coagulation. 
    3. Development of reliable, noninvasive, online hemodialysis monitoring systems assessing real-time treatment parameters such as blood volume, access flow, and urea clearance. 
  5. Studies to improve the efficiency of maintenance dialysis: 
    1. Development of innovative methods to produce more efficient and less-morbid forms of renal dialysis (e.g., GI dialysis, artificial kidney). 
    2. Studies on biocompatibility of artificial kidney membranes, in surface sensitive proteins, complement, and clotting mechanisms. 
    3. Development of new agents for sterilizing dialysis membranes. 
    4. Development of new dialysis membranes to diminish the duration of dialysis treatments. 
  6. Improved techniques of preservation and storage of kidneys intended for transplantation. 
  7. Development of material(s) for construction of urinary catheters that may reduce the incidence of infection in the urinary tract. 
  8. Development of improved renal imaging techniques, differential renal function assessments and diagnostic assessment of benign parenchymal diseases. 
  9. Development of early diagnostic tools, preventative measures, and treatment modalities for acute kidney injury. 
  10. Identification of mediators of kidney injury during sepsis and pharmacological means to block these effects. 
  11. Development of new noninvasive methods for measuring kidney function: 
    1. Development of reliable, noninvasive, nonradioactive methods of measuring glomerular filtration rate (GFR). 
    2. Identification and description of physiologic compounds that are filtered by the kidney, but neither secreted or reabsorbed;
    3. Identification of serum factors released by damaged kidney cells. 
    4. Development of methods/agents to reduce hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis catheter-related infections. 
    5. Characterization of changes in kidney hormonal function in kidney disease at various stages of severity. 
    6. Development of new biomarkers for early detection of kidney dysfunction, prediction of progression, and early indication of recovery. 
    7. Development of rapid, accurate, and cost effective means of quantifying urine albumin.

IV. Urology 

  1. Analyses of factors responsible for the initiation and progression of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) leading to the development of a diagnostic tool.
  2. Development of animal, computer, or in vitro models for the study of BPH, including culture conditions for in vitro culture of cells from benign prostatic hyperplasia. 
  3. Development of diagnostic modes to clinically and noninvasively or minimally invasively measure bladder obstruction before and after surgical or pharmaceutical intervention and/or treatment devices for bladder outlet obstruction. 
  4. Prevention, diagnostic, or treatment modalities for urinary tract infections. 
  5. Kinetics of renal stone formation, such as characterization of growth and dissolution, or crystal growth inhibition, and definition of reliable biochemical profiles of stone forming patients.
  6. Development of diagnostic device for biochemical profiling of stones either in vitro or in vivo.
  7. Development of localization methods through imaging or noninvasive methods or instrumentation using minimally-invasive methods to access stones for therapy.  
  8. Methods to directly improve access to difficult stones. 
  9. Development of additional therapeutic agents for prevention and/or treatment of urolithiasis. 
  10. Development of more real-time diagnostic assessment of bladder and urinary function using noninvasive or minimally invasive measures, which can include neuro-pharmacological/neuro-physiological assessments in urodynamics.
  11. Objective and diagnostic measurement devices or methods for assessment of urinary voiding and storage disorders, including stress, urge, and mixed incontinence, both in adults and children. 
  12. Development of non invasive or minimally invasive treatment methods or pharmacological for urinary incontinence and/or bladder instability. 
  13. Noninvasive or minimally invasive methods to diagnosis bladder inflammation or bladder epithelial and/or bladder wall changes of noncancerous origin. 
  14. Noninvasive, reduced or nonradiological diagnostic methods for evaluating vesico-ureteral reflux in children and infants. 
  15. Methods for determining inflammatory cytokines, histamines, or other factors in voided urine, as markers for lower urinary tract inflammatory processes or other urologic disorders, including chronic and acute urologic pain disorders. 
    1. Development of simple diagnostic kits for evaluating growth factors in urine in a clinical laboratory. 
    2. Development of new or enhanced methods to derive synthetic or semi-synthetic biological matrices or other tools to treat urologic disease and/or augment the functionality of urologic tissues and organs.

V. Hematology 

  1. Development of methods and equipment for routine high-volume isolation of highly purified hematopoietic stem and progenitor populations. 
  2. Identification of new methods to assay hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells with short- and long- term repopulation models amenable to serial examination. 
  3. Development of chemically defined reagents that support hematopoietic stem cell proliferation and differentiation. 
  4. Definition of culture conditions using a serum-free medium that will support the ex vivo expansion of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells. 
  5. Development of new approaches for identifying, isolating, and genetically analyzing fetal erythrocytes in the maternal circulation. 
  6. Development of novel methods for the delivery of DNA, proteins, and other compounds to hematopoietic stem cells. 
  7. Development of rapid, high-throughput microarrays for accurate assessment of gene expression profiles of hematopoietic stem cells. 
  8. Development of noninvasive systems for monitoring the total hemoglobin and hematocrit, suitable for use with adults or neonates. 
  9. Application of nanotechnology to the measurement of blood parameters and diagnosis of blood disorders. 
  10. Development of new methods for the noninvasive or minimally invasive measurement of body iron. 
  11. Adaptation of MRI technology for the noninvasive measurement of body iron:
    1. Develop appropriate magnetic resonance measurement method(s). 
    2. Optimize RF coils for the body region of interest (primarily the heart, liver, and pancreas). 
    3. Develop magnets of the appropriate magnetic field strength(s). 
    4. Develop a reliable method for calibrating, validating, and standardizing organ specific iron concentration measurements, as detected by MRI. 
    5. Determine the most appropriate magnetic resonance method for determining relaxation times and susceptibility. 
    6. Develop indicator materials for direct magnetic resonance measurement of iron concentration. 
  12. Design of therapeutic drugs for inducing fetal hemoglobin synthesis. 
  13. Development and validation of a sensitive, specific, reproducible, quantitative, and clinically applicable assay method for measuring serum hepcidin levels. 
  14. Design and validation of novel therapeutic agents that modulate hepcidin expression and/or activity in vivo.