UAB professor honored with the most prestigious prize for research in polycystic kidney disease

Bradley K. Yoder, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Cell, Developmental and Integrative Biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, has been awarded with a Lillian Jean Kaplan International Prize for Advancement for his significant research in the polycystic kidney field.

The Lillian Jean Kaplan International Prize is the most prestigious prize in the polycystic kidney disease field, and it recognizes individuals whose scientific work results in tangible achievement toward improving the knowledge and treatment of the disease.

York Pei, M.D., a professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, also was awarded a Kaplan Prize.

Yoder and Pei will each receive a $50,000 prize award, a sculpture and a citation depicting their work. Both also were honorary lecturers this month at the World Congress of Nephrology in Melbourne, Australia. Andy Betts, CEO of the Kansas City, Missouri-based PKD Foundation, presented the awards during the congress.

"I am extremely honored to be included among such a prestigious group of investigators," Yoder said, "and I would like thank the Kaplan family for continued support of the PKD Research Foundation and of this award mechanism."

"In reality," said Yoder, "the recognition of these accomplishments should be given to the large number of students and fellows that have worked in my laboratory over the past 20 years. Their efforts have led to some remarkable and unexpected discoveries into the basic cellular mechanisms that underlie this disorder. Hopefully, in the near future, with continued advances, we will be able to find better approaches to slow progression or even preventing cyst formation."

Polycystic kidney disease, or PKD, is one of the most common life-threatening disorders in the world, affecting 12.4 million people. It is a chronic, genetic disease, characterized by uncontrolled growth of cysts in the kidneys and other organs that can lead to kidney failure. As of today, there is no known cure and only one known treatment to slow the decline of the disease.

"Dr. Yoder's research over the past two decades has focused on ascertaining the function of the primary cilium in multiple tissues and during development," the PKD Foundation noted, "with a long-standing interest in how loss of cilia function contributes to cyst development in the kidney."

"His recent research has uncovered roles for primary cilia in regulating innate immune responses following renal injury that accelerates cyst progression. His group is pushing new frontiers using genetically engineered mouse models to analyze cilia-mediated sensory and signaling activities in vivo in live kidneys through intravital imaging approaches."

At UAB, Yoder holds the UAHSF Endowed Chair in Biomedical Research.

Pei's research focuses on genetic, genomic, clinical and translational research, and he has made a significant contribution to advance diagnosis, prognosis and development of novel treatment in autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease.

"The pioneering studies of these researchers provide great hope for the future for all PKD patients," Betts said.

The Lillian Jean Kaplan International Prize was established by the PKD Foundation and the International Society of Nephrology, through the generosity of Thomas Kaplan. It honors the memory of Kaplan's mother, Lillian Jean Kaplan, who had PKD and died in 2002. The mission of the prize is to stimulate research leading to a PKD treatment and cure, generate momentum in the PKD field, and enhance public awareness of PKD. Since 2002, Kaplan has given more than $4.5 million to the PKD Foundation.

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