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Kidney and Urinary Tract Disorders

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Funding opportunities


We fund research projects investigating kidney disorders through our funding programmes, and support training and career development for researchers in the specialty.

We deliver kidney disorders research funded by the NIHR, the life sciences industry and non-commercial organisations such as charities, supporting the set up and delivery of this research in the NHS and in public health and social care settings. Our research infrastructure also supports research funded by these partners, offering expertise, collaborations and facilities.

We also provide opportunities for people affected by kidney disorders and their families and carers to influence and take part in research.


The NIHR supports patients and the public to participate in high quality research taking place in health and care settings across England, advancing knowledge and improving care.

NIHR Clinical Research Network

The NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) includes 30 specialty groups, who coordinate and support the delivery of high quality research by therapy area. Some of this research is funded by the NIHR, but most of it is funded by non-commercial organisations, such as charities or universities, and the life sciences industry.

We provide researchers with the practical support they need to make research happen through our Study Support Service. This service supports the set up and delivery of clinical research in the NHS and in other health and care settings.

We have a tailored Study Support Service offer for non-commercial organisations, as well as a tailored offer for the life sciences industry.

Supporting kidney and urinary tract disorders research

There are around three million people in the United Kingdom living with chronic kidney disease, with over 60,000 people being treated for kidney failure. Every year in the United Kingdom, more than 5,000 people are waiting for kidney transplants, and almost 30,000 people are on dialysis.

  • Research into kidney and urinary tract disorders matters. It has meant:
  • development of medications to slow deterioration in kidney function, preventing or delaying the need for dialysis
  • ground-breaking investigations into the optimum amount of intravenous iron that can be given to patients on haemodialysis
  • improved treatments for rare kidney disease
  • reducing the risk of chronic kidney disease patients developing heart attacks and strokes
  • the launch of the 'Help BEAT Kidney Disease' campaign to make it easier for kidney patients to take part in research.

We support and oversee a wide range of kidney 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.

Since 2015 we have recruited over 136,000 participants to renal studies, including a first global patient recruited in 2017/18 to an IgA Nephropathy study.

Urology Representatives Subspecialty

Research involving benign conditions of the urinary tract are also managed as part of the Kidney Disorder specialty group.

Three UK-based consultant Urologists are panel members of the Renal National Specialty Group and lead the benign Urology Representatives subspecialty - a community of Urologists across the 15 Local Clinical Research Networks and the Devolved Nations.

Urology representatives develop and promote local urology research networks within their regions. The subspecialty hosts two national meetings each year which are attended by urology trainee representatives of the BURST Research Collaborative.

UK Renal Research Strategy

The CRN Renal Disorder Specialty Group consulted on the development of the first UK Renal Research Strategy in 2016. There was a strong desire to see a significant emphasis on larger, more robust, UK clinical trials in nephrology in the strategy.

Who we are

Our experts in the CRN Specialty Group can advise on delivering your kidney research study in the NHS and in particular geographic regions.

Professor David Wheeler is the CRN National Specialty Lead for kidney disorders. Read Professor Wheeler’s full biography.

Professor Wheeler is supported by local specialty leads in each of the 15 NIHR Local Clinical Research Networks.

  • Find the local specialty lead in your region

Our collaborators and stakeholders

The UK Kidney Research Consortium is made up of leading kidney charities, professional associations, and NHS representatives – including the NIHR.

The consortium is jointly supported by Kidney Research UK, the Renal Association and the British Renal Society.

It works with NIHR clinical research infrastructure across the country to support the development of clinical research in kidney diseases in the UK by advising on research needs and encouraging the development of new trials.

The UK Renal Registry

The UK Renal Registry (UKRR) is part of the Renal Association, a not for profit organisation registered with the Charity Commission.

We are recognised as having one of the very few, high quality clinical databases open to requests from researchers. The UKRR collects, analyses and reports on data from 71 adult and 13 paediatric renal centres.

The BURST Research Collaborative

The BURST Research Collaborative is a research group primarily comprising Urological Registrars in the UK aiming to produce high impact multi-centre audit and research which can improve patient care.

NIHR Clinical Research Facilities

NIHR Clinical Research Facilities (CRFs) are purpose built facilities in NHS hospitals where researchers can deliver early-phase and complex studies.


Our funding programmes fund high quality research in kidney disorders that benefits the NHS, public health and social care. We also provide career development funding awards for renal researchers - see the careers tab for more information.

Our funding programmes

Our commissioned research programmes often seek research proposals on topics related kidney disorders.

Most of our funding programmes also run funding calls open to research proposals on any topic (researcher-led calls), including research proposals in kidney disorders.

Got an idea for research in kidney disorders?  The NIHR Research Support Service can help you turn it into a funding application, offering advice on research design, research methods, identifying funding sources, and involving patients and the public.

Our portfolio of kidney and urinary tract disorders research

You can search and view all the kidney and urinary tract disorders research we’ve funded on NIHR Funding and Awards.

In addition, a number of our research programmes publish comprehensive accounts of our kidney and urinary tract disorders research in the NIHR Journals Library.


The NIHR attracts, trains and supports the best researchers in kidney disorders to tackle the complex health and care challenges of the future.

Our investment in people sustains excellent research capacity and expertise throughout clinical and non-clinical academic career pathways and provides high quality learning and development opportunities for the delivery workforce in our infrastructure.

Funding research careers

The NIHR Academy is responsible for the development and coordination of NIHR academic training, career development and research capacity development.

There is a wide range of NIHR training and career development awards available at different career stages, from pre-doctoral through to Research Professorships. These awards comprise both personal awards, which can be applied for directly with the NIHR, and institutional awards which should be applied for through the host institution.


The NIHR invests significantly in people, centres of excellence, collaborations, services and facilities to support health and care research in England. Collectively these form the world-class NIHR infrastructure.

This national research infrastructure is available to use by UKRI, research charities and the life sciences industry as well as NIHR researchers.

Find out more about working with our research infrastructure as a researcher or a member of the life sciences industry

NIHR Biomedical Research Centres

NIHR Biomedical Research Centres (BRCs) are collaborations between world-leading universities and NHS organisations that bring together academics and clinicians to translate lab-based scientific breakthroughs into potential new treatments, diagnostics and medical technologies.

The following BRCs undertake research in kidney disorders:

NIHR Medtech and In vitro diagnostics Co-operatives

NIHR Medtech and In vitro diagnostics Co-operatives (MICs) build expertise and capacity in the NHS to develop new medical technologies and provide evidence on commercially-supplied in vitro diagnostic tests.

The following MICs undertake research in kidney disorders:

NIHR Health Informatics Collaborative

The NIHR Health Informatics Collaborative (HIC) has been set up to deliver high quality data in key therapeutic areas and make NHS clinical data more readily available to researchers, industry and the NHS community.

Renal transplantation is one of the research themes of the HIC.

NIHR Clinical Research Network

The NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) supports set up and delivery of clinical research in the NHS and in other health and care settings. Find out more on the delivery tab.


The NIHR funds and supports world-class experts in mental health. Find out more about collaborating with our experts.

In addition, our experts can advise on delivering your mental health study in the NHS or in other health and social care settings. Get our expert advice on delivering your research.

National Specialty Lead

Professor David Wheeler is Professor of Kidney Medicine at University College London, UK and Honorary Consultant Nephrologist at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust.

Research Professor

The NIHR Research Professorship is the flagship personal funding award for the NIHR. The scheme funds research leaders of the future to promote effective translation of research.

Dr Menna Clatworthy, Professor of Translational Immunology at University of Cambridge and Honorary Consultant Nephrologist, is an NIHR Research Professor.

Dr Clatworthy’s research is aiming to find ways of predicting whether, and to understand why, a kidney transplant is going to work well in the short and long term.

Public Involvement

We engage with and involve patients, carers, service users and members of the public in order to improve the reach, quality and impact of research in kidney disorders.

Have your say in research

We involve patients, carers, service users and members of the public in our national research funding and support activities, including in kidney disorders research.

The researchers we fund also involve patients in planning and delivering their kidney disorders research.

Our Local Clinical Research Networks involve people in kidney disorders research taking place in your local area.

Take part in research

Be Part of Research is an online service that lists opportunities to take part in kidney disorders research across the UK.