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Intercampus Team of Investigators Receive NIH Grant to Develop Method for Diagnosing Urinary Tract Infection Using Cell-Free DNA

Dr. Darshana Dadhania

A team of intercampus investigators has received a $3.65 million grant from the NIH to develop an inexpensive method for accurately diagnosing urinary tract infections in kidney transplant patients by carrying out molecular profiling of cell-free DNA in urine.

The intercampus team, based at Weill Cornell Medicine and Cornell’s Ithaca campus, is headed by Dr. Darshana Dadhania, an Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Nephrology and Hypertension, WDOM, and Medical Director of the Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, along with Dr. Iwijn De Vlaminck, an Assistant Professor at the Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering at Cornell University, and Dr. Christopher Mason, an Associate Professor of Physiology and Biophysics and co-Director of the WorldQuant Initiative for Quantitative Prediction, WCM.

The intercampus interdisciplinary study will focus on a prospective cohort of 300 kidney transplant patients using technology the investigators had previously developed. Their ultimate goal is to develop a quick and inexpensive method for accurately diagnosing urinary tract infections in kidney transplant patients.

“Kidney transplant recipients are the ideal cohort for this investigation since they are more prone to infection because of their immunosuppressed state and where an unrecognized or untreated infection can lead to kidney failure,” Dr. Dadhania said.

“Molecular monitoring of kidney transplant recipients was pioneered at Weill Cornell Medicine and is the central focus of our NIH-sponsored research,” said co-investigator Dr. Manikkam Suthanthiran, the Stanton Griffis Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Chief of Nephrology, Hypertension and Transplantation Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. “We are delighted that our ongoing urinary cell mRNA profiling studies of kidney allograft recipients will be complemented by profiling of urine cell free supernatants for DNA.”

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