Driving Discoveries 2023: making it count
We are delighted to report back from another highly successful year for Driving Discoveries! 148 researchers, healthcare professionals, patients and members of the Kidney Research UK team met in Leeds for our much-anticipated annual conference, dedicated to showcasing the latest advances in kidney science while promoting innovation and collaboration within the renal research community.
Sharing progress in kidney disease innovation
Following opening addresses from Sandra Currie, our chief executive, and a welcome from Professor Jeremy Hughes, chair of our trustees, meeting chair Dr Andy Lewington introduced the first session ‘Kidney Disease: A UK public health emergency’.
This new evidence on the current, and likely future, impact of kidney disease, alongside powerful patient testimony, reminded all present of the challenges we face in tackling kidney disease.
Further themes across the two days included our approaches to transforming treatments and health inequalities, collaboration and insights into multiple health conditions in kidney patients; we were delighted to welcome expert speakers on these topics. Following our abstract submission call, a selection of researchers presented their latest findings, alongside poster presentations during breakout sessions. We were also proud to welcome members of our patient advisory group to the meeting, who provided invaluable insights and advice to our researchers while also providing an important real-life context to the meeting.
Prize winners announced
We were delighted to award the best oral presentation prize to Dr Haresh Selvaskandan, from the University of Leicester, for his work on discovering safer treatments for those with a kidney disease called IgA nephropathy. The Best Poster Prize went to Dr Katarzyna Szymanska, from the Leeds Institute of Medical Research, for her work towards new management options for cystic kidney disease. We look forward to hearing the next steps in both projects.
Building new connections
Alongside the ground-breaking science presented, an important focus of the two-day meeting was promoting collaboration between renal researchers.
Dr Aisling McMahon, executive director of research and policy at Kidney Research UK commented "We are committed to supporting new partnerships to accelerate much needed research breakthroughs in kidney disease. We have heard some fantastic examples of this approach in action - including NURTuRE and the ongoing collaborative work on polycystic kidney disease by Professors Colin Johnson and Albert Ong’s teams in Yorkshire - and believe that by bringing the kidney research community together at these events many other opportunities will arise.”
We would like to thank everyone who attended and supported this event; we look forward to a busy events programme for the remainder of 2023 and 2024. You can find details of our upcoming events via our social media or our researcher newsletter.
Spotlight on innovation
Following the success of our pilot innovation competition last year, we were delighted to launch a further co-funded competition with the University of Leeds for two prizes of £10,000. We also welcomed Dr Laura Denby from Edinburgh University, winner of the Edinburgh innovation competition, to present her work and discuss the impact of small awards on progressing research projects, securing additional funding and facilitating international collaborations. Laura showcased the highly successful community of researchers ‘Edinburgh Kidney’, which enables vital collaboration and communication across different research projects and teams. Based on this success, we hope that this model can be replicated across different locations across the UK.
Reflections from Sally, a member of our Lay Advisory Group
"The diversity and breadth of research shown at Driving Discoveries was inspiring. From understanding kidney disease at the level of cells and genes to using computer-based technology to potentially allow more personalised treatment and involving engineers and materials scientists seeking ways to make home hemodialysis more accessible and safer, there’s so much exciting work in the pipeline! I’d like to especially thank the poster presenters for their patience and expertise in making their complex work clear to me and other lay delegates."