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Clinical Trials & Research

Research Spotlight

Joshua Stern, MD Awarded Carl W. Gottschalk Research Scholar Grant

You are what you eat or so the old adage suggests, but to what extent? For patients with kidney stones (stone disease) there is a direct correlation between diet and the condition. For some, dietary modifications are not enough.

To further understand the correlation between diet and stone disease as well as find new treatments, Joshua Stern, MD—Attending Physician and Assistant Professor of Urology at Montefiore and our Albert Einstein College of Medicine—is focused on research exploring the link between bacteria in the gut (the gut microbiome) and kidney stones. Dr. Stern has been awarded a prestigious Carl W. Gottschalk Research Scholar Grant from the American Society of Nephrology to further this work.

Through this grant, Dr. Stern's research will seek to determine if a unique gut microbiome in patients with kidney stones (there are differences in the gut microbiome of patients with and without kidney stones) can be isolated and manipulated.

The gut microbiome is so large that it has a direct impact on the various systems within the body and is now considered a separate organ all unto itself.

There are also correlations between the gut microbiome and other conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. If the gut microbiome can be isolated and manipulated to treat kidney stones, the potential exists to develop further treatments for other condition as well.

In collaboration with Einstein researchers Kelvin Davies, PhD and Robert D. Burk, MD, Dr. Stern determined, in a small pilot study recently published in the medical journal Urolithiasis, key differences in the gut microbiome of kidney stone patients compared to patients without kidney stones. They are the first to sequence the gut microbiome in kidney stone patients.

The two-year career development grant will allow Dr. Stern to expand the pilot study to a larger group to further this ground breaking research on the gut microbiome and its impact on kidney stones.

Urology Researchers Seek Innovative Treatments for Spinal Cord Injuries

Sylvia Suadicani, Kelvin Davies—researchers at Montefiore and Albert Einstein College of Medicine—are part of an investigative team that recently received a $1.2 million grant from New York State to advance promising technology for treating paralysis and other effects of spinal cord injuries (SCI). The grant is one of nine totaling $5.7 million announced by Governor Cuomo. The funding will be administered by New York State Spinal Cord Injury Research program and represents the first round of competitive awards since funding was re-instated for the program in 2013.

Each year, approximately 1,000 New York residents and 12,000 Americans suffer SCI, and the associated loss of movement and well-being. While the inability to stand and walk is viewed by many as the major disability associated with SCI, patients with SCI list the recovery of proper bladder, bowel and sexual function as a top priority.

This important research will focus on advancing our earlier research to restore these functions. The team previously found that reducing levels of an enzyme called fidgetin-like 2 in cells unlocks their regenerative capacity and promotes rapid wound healing. Further research in animals indicates that nanoparticles can be used to deliver fidgetin-like 2 to desired locations to restore locomotion, bladder and erectile function following SCI. The project’s goals are to optimize treatment regimens for recovery from both acute and chronic SCI and to fully determine the molecular mechanisms underlying regeneration, from the level of individual cells to the entire animal.

The team members conducting the research will leverage their expertise in basic science and clinical research in the fields of cellular and molecular biology, urology and neuroscience. Other members of the research team include Moses Tar, MD, assistant professor of urology, and Lisa Baker, a Ph.D. student in Dr. Sharp’s lab. The team will work closely with the Block Institute for Clinical and Translational Research at Einstein and Montefiore to advance the technology from the lab towards a clinically available treatment. Go learn here to learn more about promising new urology research: www.montefiore.org/urology/research 

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