A boost for kidney research at the MDC

MDC molecular biologist and kidney specialist Kai Schmidt-Ott awarded professorship in “Urogenital cancer research”
Kai Schmidt-Ott, head of the lab "Differentiation and Regeneration of Kidney Epithelia". Photo: Christiane Trabert

Kai Schmidt-Ott is a perfect example of the way the MDC is pursuing “translational research:” not only is he senior physician of the Nephrology Department at the Charité on the city center campus, but since 2007 he has headed an MDC lab on the theme of “Differentation and regeneration of kidney epithelia.” There the group pursues questions about kidney development. Now the Foundation for Urological Research in Berlin has awarded Kai the Hans-Schildbach professorship for “Urogenital Cancer Research.” A press release on the award in German can be seen at.

Tumors of the urogenital system are only one topic of interest for the researcher. His group also studies both hereditary and acquired kidney diseases, including acute kidney failure. “The kidney plays an essential role in the cardiovascular system,” Kai says. “People with kidney disease often have heavily damaged blood vessels and thereby acquire a higher risk for heart attacks or strokes. The MDC already has a strong tradition in cardiovascular research; here we hope to intensify interdisciplinary work at the center.” Kai has already carried out collaborative projects with the groups of Thomas Willnow, Walter Birchmeier and other MDC researchers including, of course, Friedrich Luft, who directs the Experimental and Clinical Research Center of the MDC and Charité.

One of Kai’s main goals is to make the MDC a center for translational kidney research. “The contact with patients and a close collaboration with the Charité’s clinics for Nephrology and Urology are crucial in this effort,” Kai says. One project will attempt to identify new biomarkers for kidney failure.

Kai is a native of Berlin who has worked around the world, including a stint at Columbia University in New York, as part of the Emmy-Noether Junior Researchers Program funded by the German Research Council (DFG ). He has received numerous awards for his work, including the Ernst-Reuther Prize of the Free University of Berlin and the Young Investigatoer Award of the German Hypertension League.


Beitragsbild: Immunofluorescence staining of a renal collecting duct with aquaporin 2 (green) and a nuclear counterstain (blue). Integrated are 3D reconstruction of the collecting duct lumen (grey) and single cell reconstructions for a principal cell (green) and an intercalated cell (red). Photo: Lab Schmidt-Ott, MDC