BAR HARBOR, MAINE — Chronic renal failure is a major health problem in the United States, affecting 26 million people and costing more than $42 billion a year. Dialysis and kidney transplantation are successful strategies to treat patients who have lost kidney function, but the dream is to replace lost or damaged tissue with a regenerated kidney.
Hermann Haller, M.D., who leads one of the world’s premier research groups in the field of kidney regeneration, will deliver a presentation entitled “From Fish and Mice to Men: How to Make a New Kidney” at an MDI Science Café to be held at 5 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 8, 2016, at the Kinne Library at the MDI Biological Laboratory.
In research at the MDI Biological Laboratory and in Germany, Haller is seeking to understand the molecular mechanisms of kidney regeneration in animal species such as the skate and the zebrafish that maintain the ability to regenerate organs. He is using this knowledge to manipulate stem cells to create new kidneys in humans.
Haller is a faculty member at the MDI Biological Laboratory and a professor and director of the Department of Nephrology and Hypertension at Hannover Medical School in Hanover, Germany. He is an internationally acclaimed expert in the areas of kidney disease, hypertension and renal transplantation.
Chronic kidney disease is a condition in which the kidneys lose the ability to filter blood. As a result, wastes accumulate in the body, which may lead to other health problems. The disease affects more than 10 percent of American adults at some level. Without treatment, the diseased kidneys may fail, in which case patients must undergo dialysis, in which a machine is used to filter the blood, or receive a kidney transplant.
The disease is a huge — and growing — burden on the U.S. health care system, costing about $42 billion per year for the Medicare system alone. Because the most common causes are diabetes, hypertension and heart disease — all of which are on the increase due to the aging of the U.S. population — chronic kidney disease is a growing public health issue among those age 60 and over.
“Dr. Haller’s research on kidney regeneration reflects our mission of translating research on tissue repair and regeneration into treatments,” said Kevin Strange, Ph.D., president of the MDI Biological Laboratory. “Kidney disease is one of the nation’s deadliest and costliest public health threats. The increasing prevalence and limited treatment options heighten the need to develop regenerative approaches.”
MDI Science Cafés are offered through the MDI Biological Laboratory in fulfillment of its mission to promote scientific literacy and increase public engagement with science. The popular events offer a chance to hear directly from scientists about their latest research. Short presentations delivered in everyday language are followed by lively, informal discussion.
MDI Science Cafés will alternate with Art Meets Science Cafés at the MDI Biological Laboratory every Monday evening from June 20 to Sept. 19, except for Labor Day. The cafés will take place at 5 p.m. at the laboratory’s Kinne Library.
The 2016 Art Meets Science exhibit will also be on view prior to the MDI Science Cafés and Art Meets Science Cafés starting at 4:15 p.m. For more information on these events, please visit mdibl.org/events.
Our scientists are pioneering new approaches to regenerative medicine focused on drugs that activate our natural ability to heal, and slow age-related degenerative changes. In only a few years, our unique approach has identified drug candidates with the potential to treat major diseases, demonstrating that regeneration could be as simple as taking a pill. As innovators and entrepreneurs, we also teach what we know. Our new Center for Science Entrepreneurship prepares students for 21st century careers and equips entrepreneurs with the skills and resources to turn great ideas into successful products. For more information, please visit mdibl.org.