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Funding new research

26 July 2022

We are excited to announce that we have granted three new awards in the first round of our Stoneygate awards for the year. This grant round welcomed applications that would investigate novel theories surrounding kidney disease, advance our knowledge, and transform treatment of kidney diseases. 

We have awarded the three grants highlighted below: 

Bettina Wilm
Dr Bettina Wilm

Dr Bettina Wilm, University of Liverpool

We have awarded a Stoneygate start up grant for £49,753.67 to Dr Bettina Wilm.

Bettina and her team are going to channel their expertise into improving the management of acute kidney injury (AKI) risk following surgery. Thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysms (TAAA) are weaknesses in the main blood vessel taking blood from the heart down the body. These can burst and need to be fixed surgically. During the surgery, patients are often given blood. However, due to the way in which this blood must be processed, a lot of the red blood cells can split open and release their contents into the circulation. Approximately 20-30% of patients undergoing surgery on the thoracoabdominal aorta develop AKI.

Bettina wants to measure one of the red blood cells’ contents, called free haemoglobin, and use it to estimate the risk of AKI. This can lead to a more personalised level of care when managing postoperative AKI risk. 

Dr Rhys Evans
Dr Rhys Evans

Dr Rhys Evans, University College London

Dr Rhys Evans has been awarded a Stoneygate start up grant of £49,984.69.

Rhys has been keeping his ear to the ground. Recently it has been shown that an increase in salt in the diet can make our immune systems more aggressive in the way they try to protect our bodies. Rhys wondered if the opposite is true: can reducing salt in the diet make our immune systems a bit more tolerant? Currently, patients with kidney failure are treated with dialysis or transplant. Transplants are a good treatment, but they come with a large list of prescription drugs that must be taken to protect the new kidney. The cells of our immune systems patrol our body looking for anything that isn’t “us”- which can be harmful for a transplant. The drugs make it more likely that the immune system won’t recognise the new kidney as “foreign” but come with side effects.

Rhys wants to see if reducing salt in the diet can do the same, which may in the future allow for a reduction in the number of immunosuppressive drugs a transplant patient needs to take. 

Professor Alan Salama
Professor Alan Salama

Professor Alan Salama, University College London

We have awarded a Stoneygate research project grant of £233,361.31 to Professor Alan Salama.

Alan and his team at University College London want to help dialysis patients. They have previously found that the immune systems of dialysis patients don’t respond very well to vaccines. Vaccines are like the “wanted posters” you might see in old Western films. They show our immune systems what the bad guys look like and give them a bit of target practice. In the general population, following vaccinations, antibodies are generated that can rapidly recognise their target and ensure the rest of the immune system deals with it. Some dialysis patients generate few if any antibodies following vaccination. This has been a particular problem during the coronavirus pandemic, forcing dialysis patients to shelter where possible.

Alan wants to make all vaccinations work better in dialysis patients by understanding why they generate so few antibodies and helping them make more. 

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