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Renal Disorders Specialty Profile



Delivering kidney disorders research in the UK

Through the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network (CRN), the UK benefits from a unique research infrastructure to enable the timely set-up and delivery of renal disorders clinical studies. The CRN provides local researchers with the practical support they need to make research happen in our National Health Service (NHS). As well as providing research delivery staff, we also bring together communities of clinical practice to provide national networks of research expertise.

CRN Renal Disorders is one of 30 such communities and is made up of leading research-interested clinicians and practitioners at both national and local levels. We cover the entire renal disorders care pathway across all subspecialty areas, supporting both academic and commercial studies. Where there are considerable overlaps with other specialty areas, for example cardiovascular disease, diabetes and primary care, we work closely with our colleagues from across the Network to deliver high quality renal disorders research.


All countries in the UK have representation on our Renal Disorders Specialty Group, as do each of the 15 local clinical research networks across England. Membership includes key opinion leaders with specific skills and expertise who are principal investigators for many studies, and have acted as chief investigators at national and international levels. In 2017/18, 339 sites undertook NIHR renal disorders studies.

Access to patients

In the UK, over three million people are at risk because of chronic kidney disease, and nearly 60,000 people are either on dialysis or have received kidney transplants. CRN Renal Disorders has been at the forefront of innovative strategies to involve and engage patients and the public in research. Our staff and network of experts on the ground can provide accurate feasibility and recruitment guidance. In 2017/18, 53 renal units participated in renal disorders studies. Through our work over two thirds of acute hospitals that recruited participants into renal disorders studies have a dedicated communication strategy for involving patients in research. Since 2010, over 152,874 participants have taken part in renal disorders studies on our Portfolio.

Study delivery

CRN Renal Disorders supports and oversees a wide range of studies; from single-centre early stage evaluation of medical technology, through to larger multi-centre observational studies and randomised controlled trials of medical and surgical interventions. We provide a network of potential investigators amongst which basic study information can be rapidly disseminated, enabling us to provide accurate information about the delivery capabilities of study sites, and supporting you to select study locations through our Study Support Service.

Our track record in 2017/18:

• 26,019 participants recruited to Renal Disorders supported studies

• 1,297 participants recruited to commercial contract studies

• 50 multi-national, multi-centre studies

• First Global patient recruited to an IgA Nephropathy study

• 71 per cent of studies (commercial and non-commercial ) recruiting to time and target


CRN Renal Disorders benefits from consistent and innovative interaction with other key renal stakeholders, especially its main charity, Kidney Research UK and the academic body, UK Kidney Research Consortium (UKKRC). 

We work together to define the research agenda, identify and support new clinical researchers and promote patient involvement in study design, delivery and recruitment. We also have several successful networks in the fields of urology and chronic kidney disease with UK wide studies ongoing. Kidney Research UK, Renal Association and British Renal Society also actively support and engage with us independently and through the UKKRC. CRN Renal Disorders helped to develop UK’s first renal research strategy which was launched in April 2016.

Case studies

• PIVOTAL (Proactive IV irOn Therapy in haemodiALysis patients) This ground-breaking study is investigating the optimum amount of intravenous iron that kidney patients on dialysis should receive for treatment of anaemia. This is the largest clinical trial ever conducted in UK renal units. By assisting in setting up sites across the UK, CRN Renal Disorders has supported the involvement of over 2,100 patients at more than 50 sites across the UK.

• PEDAL (PrEscription of Intra-Dialytic Exercise to Improve quAlity of Life in Patients With Chronic Kidney Disease) The NIHR and Department of Health awarded £2.1 million to conduct this unique four year programme investigating the clinical benefits and cost effectiveness of using modified exercise bikes whilst dialysing, as an adjunct therapy for maintenance haemodialysis patients.

• eGFR-C study (Accuracy of glomerular filtration rate (GFR) estimation using creatinine and cystatin C and albuminuria for monitoring disease progression in patients with stage 3 chronic kidney disease: prospective longitudinal study in a multi-ethnic population). The Network has supported this NIHR-funded multi-centred study by using site intelligence of specialist nurses to identify and recruited over 1,240 patients into the study.

Find out more

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Contact us

Access our Study Support Service 

Phone: 00 44 113 34 34 555