Keck School of Medicine of USC researchers recently joined board members from the University Kidney Research Organization (UKRO) to celebrate the opening of the USC/UKRO Kidney Research Center in the Mudd Memorial Research Building.

An initial $3.5 million pledge from UKRO supports the center and its six labs.

The USC/UKRO Kidney Research Center will be led by Kenneth Hallows, MD, PhD, an internationally recognized expert in ion transport physiology.

Hallows joined Keck Medicine of USC on July 1 from the University of Pittsburgh and the O’Brien Pittsburgh Center for Kidney Research.

Along with Hallows, researcher Nuria M. Pastor-Soler, MD, PhD, a former associate professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, has joined the center.

The center will become an important facility in basic and translational kidney research with clinical initiatives that have a positive impact on patients with kidney disease – not only in Los Angeles, but across the nation, Hallows said.

“I am excited for the potential of the research that will be done here,” said Hallows, chief of the division of nephrology and hypertension. “It’s a great opportunity to forge new collaborations across Keck Medicine of USC. We’re looking forward to building a core group of researchers dedicated to finding better treatments and cures for various kidney diseases.”

On a recent afternoon, Hallows was joined by Ed Crandall, PhD, MD, chair of the Keck School of Medicine’s Department of Medicine, USC/UKRO Research Center Co-Director Vito Campese, MD, and UKRO board members on a tour of the new center.

“This center will be an asset to promote nephrology research at USC,” said UKRO President and CEO Ken Kleinberg. “We want this to become the preeminent nephrology group in America.”

Recruitment of additional faculty researchers is currently underway.

The center occupies two floors in the Mudd Memorial Research Building. A centerpiece of the center is a new multi-photon confocal microscope capable of producing 3D images in real time, up to 1,000 times larger than they appear to the naked eye. The microscope will be used to examine kidney structure and function in living kidneys.

Along with kidney research, the center will be a resource for medical students and other trainees, helping to create greater awareness of the field of nephrology.

— Douglas Morino