UAMS Receives Grant to Support Kidney Transplant Research

A researcher will study a drug therapy that could improve long-term kidney transplant outcomes.

UAMS' Nirmala Parajuli
Nirmala Parajuli is studying a novel way to improve long-term kidney transplant survival. Photo courtesy: UAMS

A National Institutes of Health grant will allow University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences researcher Nirmala Parajuli, DVM, Ph.D., to study a novel way to improve the long-term outcomes of patients who receive kidneys from deceased donors.

Parajuli, an assistant professor in the College of Medicine Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, will use the five-year $2.46 million grant to study a drug therapy that could reduce damage to donated kidneys during cold storage.

Transplants from deceased donors account for about 70% of all kidney transplants, and long-term outcomes are generally poor.

“There are about 100,000 patients waiting for kidney transplants, and many of them will die while they are waiting,” Parajuli said. “My goal is to reduce the kidney injury caused by cold storage and increase the pool of healthy kidneys available to the people who need them.”

In her preclinical research, she is testing drugs mixed in the solution used to store kidneys from rats and donated human kidneys that were rejected for transplantation.

The drugs, Parajuli hopes, will block the molecular pathways that play a role in kidney injury during storage, which ultimately will increase long-term kidney survival.

As a UAMS Research Academy Scholar, Parajuli received training and other support to develop her grant submission. The academy’s Mentored Grant-Writing program is supported by the UAMS Division of Research and Innovation, the Translational Research Institute, and the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute.

The Translational Research Institute is supported by a Clinical and Translational Science Award from the NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.