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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Texas A&M: NIH-funded Research Study into Kidney Disease Epidemic in Central America

Dr. Rebecca Fischer, received $691,660 from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)’s Fogarty International Center to research Mesoamerican Nephropathy (MeN), a kidney disease of an unknown cause in Central America that disproportionately affects young adults in rural, impoverished areas. She will be working at the epicenter of the disease in Nicaragua to help health professionals understand how MeN progresses from the acute stage to the chronic stage, identifying biomarkers for early diagnostic & prognostic applications.

Her team will study kidney disease in all ages and in women, which have been scarcely studied so far. Through a partnership with the Medical School at the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua and local clinics in Leon, Nicaragua, every child and adult coming into the clinics will be screened for MeN. One of the goals of this project is to develop a screening tool that can easily detect the stage of MeN in patients.

“I will enroll 600 patients into a cohort, examining them over time to identify markers of this disease and predictors of specific health outcomes,” Dr. Fischer said. “We’re also planning to take renal biopsy samples to understand more about changing disease pathology and also gauge if renal care practices that are used for other diseases might be good therapies for MeN.”

The multidisciplinary study includes the departments of geology, veterinary medicine and epidemiology in the multifaceted testing approach into the specific etiologic agent of disease. This project will build a kidney disease cohort that can be used for more research even after the kidney disease epidemic is unraveled.

“I am committed to solving the mystery of this disease,” Dr. Fischer said.

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