The University Record, August 16, 1993

National kidney research data center moves to U-M

Medical Center researchers have been awarded a $9 million contract by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to operate a national kidney research data center on campus. The center moved to Ann Arbor July 1 from Washington, D.C., where it was operated jointly by the U-M and the Urban Institute.

The United States Renal Data System (USRDS), a central clearinghouse for data on kidney failure, serves kidney patients, physicians and researchers. The center collects, analyzes and distributes information on all aspects of kidney failure, including the role of environmental factors, causes of kidney failure, how well specific-age patients do on dialysis, and the effects of kidney failure on children. Its aim is to help target the causes of renal disease, as well as improve treatment methods and outcomes for dialysis and transplant patients.

Friedrich Port, professor of medicine and of epidemiology and deputy director of the center, says more than 200,000 people in the United States are alive due to kidney dialysis or transplantation. However, according to Port, almost one-half of all dialysis patients have been under treated. The USRDS, he notes, is a research tool that enables physicians to compare treatment methods and survival rates so they can more effectively tailor treatment to a patient’s age and needs.

“We are talking about saving 1,000 more lives a year,” said Port, who is director of the Michigan Kidney Registry.

After successfully operating the Michigan Kidney Registry for almost two decades, the U-M was awarded a $7 million NIH contract in 1988 to establish a national registry with the Urban Institute. Now under the sole direction of the U-M through 1998, the USRDS will broaden its research scope to include an analysis of the cost and effectiveness of health care delivery to kidney patients.

Philip Held, professor of internal medicine and of health services management and policy, will continue to serve as USRDS director.