George M. O'Brien Urology Research Centers : NIDDK

George M. O'Brien Urology Research Centers

Mounting complexities associated with the studies of disease processes require a network of investigators with a variety of knowledge and expertise. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and the National Cancer Institute co-sponsor a network of urology research centers that will improve efficiency and increase collaborative efforts among groups of investigators at institutions with established comprehensive urology research bases. The goals of the George M. O'Brien Urology Research Centers have been expanded and are as follows:

  • Attract new scientific expertise into the study of the basic mechanisms of urological diseases and disorders
  • Encourage multidisciplinary research focused on the causes of these diseases
  • Encourage translational research in urologic diseases
  • Explore new basic science areas that may have clinical research application
  • Generate developmental research (DR)/pilot and feasibility (P&F) studies of two years duration, which will lead to new and innovative approaches to the study of urological disease

Research Focus

Investigators in the network have training and expertise in disciplines such as cell and molecular biology, biochemistry, physiology, genomics and proteomics, developmental biology, tissue engineering, epidemiology, immunology, and pathology. In addition, the expertise of these investigators includes a focus on the following research topics:

  • Factors that influence the development and progression of benign growth of the prostate
  • Basic mechanisms of urological cancer regulation and growth
  • Responses of bladder urothelium to infections
  • Effects of diabetes on the lower urinary tract
  • Immunobiology and neurobiology of the lower urinary tract and their relationship to urological disease
  • Factors that influence the development of urolithiasis
  • Genetics of urological diseases
  • Factors that influence normal and abnormal bladder urothelial biology

The major emphasis of the centers' projects will be on understanding normal and abnormal growth and development processes of the urinary tract, including urological malignancies and non-malignant disorders such as benign prostatic hyperplasia, prostatitis, urinary incontinence, dysfunctional voiding, urinary tract infections, interstitial cystitis, pediatric bladder, and developmental urological disorders, erectile function, urinary tract stone disease, chronic pelvic pain of bladder origin.

Application of human genomic information to improve clinical outcome is a major challenge facing biomedical researchers today. Nevertheless, elucidation of the human genome has given birth to many new methods and technologies that should allow for routine discovery of new genes and identification of their biological relevancy.

However, understanding normal cellular processes and the development and progression of urological diseases will require more than the delineation of an array of complex protein-protein interacting pathways. These pathways are aberrantly modified in disease states and reflected in the subtle protein changes in the cell. Such changes in protein expression are likely to be translated into changes in cell growth, differentiation, and apoptosis. In addition, because of the complexity and heterogeneity of many of the urological diseases, these new molecular approaches are increasingly needed in studies of the physiology and neurophysiology of lower urinary tract function in well-characterized experimental animal models.

The O'Brien Urology Research Centers also address the scientific information base and provide focal points for sustaining and maintaining state-of-the-art research that will contribute to improved detection, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of urological diseases and disorders. These centers will conduct a wide spectrum of research activities that will contribute significantly to the following:

  • Development of specialized research resources
  • Development of improved research model systems
  • Expansion of the research base through collaborative research

Interrelated, basic research subprojects, each with high scientific merit and clear research objectives have been the hallmarks of the O'Brien Urology Research Centers program. In the aggregate, the subprojects continue to be directed to the development of fundamental knowledge leading to the understanding of urological disease processes and the design of curative or preventive strategies. However, a new dimension to the centers program is the research development/pilot and feasibility (P&F) project(s). These projects are integral components of the centers concept.

The George M. O'Brien investigators will meet annually at the NIH to review progress and enhance collaboration.

Project Officer: Leroy Nyberg, M.D., Ph.D., 301-594-7717.

Page last updated: November 25, 2008

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