U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Urologic Disease

image of body with urologic organs highlightedUrologic diseases, disorders, and conditions affect people of all ages, result in significant health care expenditures, and may lead to substantial disability and impaired quality of life. Non-cancerous (benign) urologic health problems include urinary tract infections, kidney stones, urinary incontinence, and benign prostatic hyperplasia (an enlarged prostate). Interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome (IC/BPS), a debilitating and painful condition, affects an estimated 3.3 million women, and researchers estimate 1.6 million men have chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS) consisting of urologic symptoms such as pain with bladder filling. Based upon national public health surveys conducted over several years, it is estimated that 1 in 10 U.S. adults (18 years of age and older) suffer from daily urinary incontinence; most of those affected are women. Many suffer in silence due to embarrassment and lack of knowledge about available treatment options.

NIDDK supports basic, clinical, and translational research on the normal and abnormal development, structure, function, infection, and injury repair of the genitourinary tract, to advance our ability to combat urologic conditions and improve urologic health.  For example, NIDDK-supported researchers are:

  • Gaining insights into urinary tract infections that have led to potential new treatments and are paving the way for others;
  • Investigating new treatments for kidney stones in adults and children; 
  • Mapping molecular and cellular pathways in the development of the ​genitourinary tract, establishing a knowledge base that could help in addressing acute injuries and correcting birth defects;
  • Working to define bladder health and establish the scientific basis for future prevention-focused intervention studies for lower urinary tract symptoms and conditions in women and girls; and
  • Focusing on understanding the causes of IC/BPS and CP/CPPS, identifying “biomarkers” to help in diagnosis, and improving treatment options.

NIDDK-supported studies over the past several years have helped to advance knowledge about the efficacy of surgical treatment of urinary incontinence and to provide new insights into non-surgical alternatives. 

In addition, NIDDK received congressional authorization for the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse. The Clearinghouse provides public inquiry response services and health information about urologic diseases to people with urologic diseases and to their families, health professionals, and the public.

Conduct Research

NIDDK investigators conduct biomedical research and training in the Institute's laboratories and clinical facilities in Maryland and Arizona.

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