Hospital del Mar Research Institute Hospital del Mar Research Institute

Kidney Disease Marta Crespo and Clara Barrios

The Nephropathy Research Group at the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM) is part of the Nephrology and Renal Transplant Service (RT) at the MAR Health Park. The service covers the structured care of renal patients in four areas: arterial hypertension and vascular risk, clinical nephrology, advanced chronic kidney disease-dialysis, and kidney transplants.

It has a laboratory for basic nephropathy research at the IMIM, which has been recognised as a Health Research Institute since 2013 by the ISCIII Accreditation Committee. The GREN is the result of the union between the healthcare and basic aspects of the Nephrology Service, in whose laboratory staff from the field of biomedical sciences, both pre- and post-doctoral, and laboratory technicians work every day in collaboration with nephrologists from the different areas of the service to achieve translational research lines in the various fields covered by this speciality.

The team is currently made up of 21 people.

Throughout its history, the group has obtained competitive HR funding granted by the ISCIII, such as pre-doctoral contracts for training in health research (PFIS) and Rio Hortega and Sara Borrell contracts, which have made it possible to incorporate talented professionals with outstanding scientific and human qualities.

In addition, more than 10 doctoral theses have been defended under the supervision of the group's researchers since the group was created.

The GREN is part of the Renal Research Network (REDinREN) of the ISCIII (RD16/0009/0013) where it coordinates several work blocks and constitutes a model that integrates basic, translational and clinical research. It has been recognised by the Catalan Government's Agency for the Management of University Research Grants (AGAUR) (2017 SGR 430).

The Service has focused particularly on renal transplants, increasing from 29 procedures in 2009 to more than 100 in 2020, covering all transplant types (cadaver, living donor, sensitised patient, ABO incompatibility, etc.).

In addition to important experience in basic, translational and clinical research, the group is very active in the design and execution of clinical trials, not only IB to IV trials promoted by industry, but also investigator-driven studies. Three members of the group (2 nurses and a biologist) make up the "Research Support Unit"; they have a wealth of knowledge and experience in conducting and monitoring trials, especially randomised controlled trials. They are able to carry out all the procedures, logistics and tasks required to execute the different phases of research studies, in terms of both observational and prospective aspects.

The GREN seeks to contribute to a better understanding of the mechanisms involved in the onset and progression of kidney diseases through preclinical research using in vivo and in vitro models. These models make it possible to study the molecular mechanisms involved in these processes and identify possible therapeutic targets and new strategies against nephropathy.

As well as each group member's individual projects, the research group as a whole carries out the following activities: 1) a weekly group meeting focused on the projects being developed in the research laboratory, centred on animal and cell models of various nephropathies and including follow-up of doctoral theses at various stages of completion; 2) clinical drug trials in all phases (IB-IV); 3) design of research projects that may be the future PhD thesis projects for doctors in training or which may be eligible for state or European competitive funding.

The result of all this work is a large number of high-impact publications and doctoral theses defended.

The 3 main areas of research are consolidated with 3 active FIS-ISCIII projects:

  • Dr. Marta Crespo (PI20/00090): Antibody-mediated rejection and graft loss: advances in risk characterisation before and after transplantation.
  • Dr. Anna Oliveras (PI16/01356): Therapeutic Adherence in Uncontrolled Arterial Hypertension: selective detection, efficacy and effectiveness of a programme to improve compliance (ATHAN).
  • Dr. Clara Barrios (PI16/00620): Metabolomics and glycomics study to identify biomarkers of renal function and damage in diabetes.

Research areas

  • Immunological monitoring of renal transplants and chronic graft dysfunction. More
  • Cardiovascular risk and hypertension: resistant arterial hypertension; cardiovascular risk associated with obesity; cardiovascular risk and kidney donation. More
  • Experimental and clinical diabetic nephropathy. More

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