Australian fellowship for UCL nephrologist
5 February 2008
Professor Robert Unwin, UCL Centre for Nephrology, is to be a Visiting International Research Fellow at the University of Sydney from October this year.
As Professor of Nephrology & Physiology at UCL, his work in Sydney will focus on renal stone disease, a growing problem in more affluent countries. Kidney stones, which are related in part to our more sedentary lifestyle and high animal protein diet (which is also low in non-cereal vegetables and fruits), are occurring in people at a younger age, and more young women are now affected than previously. Without preventative measures after a first stone, around 40 per cent of cases recur within three years, rising to about 75 per cent after 10 years, with virtually all sufferers having at least one stone recurrence within 25 years. Treatment remains largely empirical and expensive, with surgery often failing to completely cure the condition.
Professor Unwin's work in Sydney will focus on two areas: predicting the risk of forming kidney stones and their recurrence by comparing two different algorithms currently used in London and Sydney respectively; and beginning to look for genetic clues or patterns in each cohort of patients. There is still remarkably little data in these areas, since very few stone clinics carry out a systematic and comprehensive metabolic assessment of their stone patients.
Professor Unwin said: "Since a family history of kidney stones can be elicited in up to 50 per cent of cases, a better and more standardised characterisation and 'phenotyping' of large numbers of patients is the only way that any progress is likely to be made in understanding the genetic contribution to renal stone disease. This project is a unique opportunity to improve and standardise the assessment of stone patients, and to exploit a large and combined database (of up to 3000 patients) for clinical research in this area."
The University of Sydney offers its visiting international research fellowships to overseas researchers of high standing at any stage in their career to share and disseminate new and original ideas and/or techniques, initiate and undertake collaborative research and facilitate interaction and training of university staff and students.
On his appointment, Professor Unwin said: "It is a very exciting opportunity for me to learn from another centre of expertise in renal stone disease and to establish links in this and related areas of renal physiology and nephrology with the University of Sydney."
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