Icon - Kidney Health Australia Research

Kidney Health Australia Research

Established in 1968 as the Australian Kidney Foundation, Kidney Health Australia has a long tradition of supporting kidney research in Australia. In fact, since 1968 Kidney Health Australia has raised funds and distributed more than $30 million towards kidney research in Australia.

In 2016-2017 Kidney Health Australia conducted a review of our research grant system, during which we consulted widely with people affected by kidney disease, major kidney research groups, and others interested in kidney-related medical and scientific research.

The previous process of funding, which invited applications for project grants and scholarships to commence the following year, was suspended in 2015 at the beginning of this review process.

As a result of our review, Kidney Health Australia Research has undergone a transformation with a focus on community participation, a research agenda endorsed by our community, and organisational collaboration. Our long-standing commitment to research funding continues unchanged.

Community Participation

In line with Kidney Health Australia’s focus on its community we have been looking to our community to tell us what they think are the important research topics we should be supporting. Therefore, rather than support a number of different research topics, in the future we are going to support a specific research agenda as prioritised by the Australian kidney community. We are also using our strong community base to build a network of consumers that want to be involved in all aspects of research from conception to involvement in clinical trials.

Organisational Collaboration

In line with Kidney Health Australia’s focus on collaboration we have been working closely with other Australasian research organisations, including the Research Advisory Committee of Australian and New Zealand Society of Nephrology (ANZSN), Better Evidence And Translation – Chronic Kidney Disease (BEAT CKD) and Australian Kidney Trial Network (AKTN) to name but a few, with the aim of forming a unified Australasian research voice.

Key Research Streams 

In 2018, after an extensive period of consultation with the kidney community and guided by the Kidney Health Australia Research Advisory Group, we identified the three key research streams below:

Stream 1: Improving quality of life and duration of life for those living with CKD

Stream 2: Making kidney transplants last longer

Stream 3: Preventing the progression of chronic kidney disease

Within each stream prioritise will be given to three areas:

  • Basic science
  • Psychosocial
  • Clinical science/population health

From 2018 to 2020 Kidney Health Australia Research will fund a single stream each year.

If you are a researcher and would like to register to receive updates about Kidney Health Australia Research, please email [email protected]

If you are a person affected by kidney disease and would like to help shape the future of kidney research by getting involved in any aspect research (including development of research, member of consumer councils, participation in clinical trials), please email [email protected]

If you would like to discuss how you can support Kidney Health Australia Research, please contact [email protected].

Kidney Health Australia Research Advisory Group

 Kidney Health Australia Research national Research Advisory Group is made up of some of Australia’s leading kidney health professionals and researchers, kidney consumers and people of influence.

The Research Advisory Group provides ongoing input and support of KHA’s Research Strategy and Agenda.  The group support the work of KHA Research in its mission to ‘Improve the lives of all people affected by kidney disease through the support of research.’

Current Research Advisory Group members

Professor Steven James Chadban; BMed (hons), PhD, FRACP

Prof Chadban works as a clinician scientist at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH), where he is Area Director of Renal Medicine, and as Leader of the Kidney Node, Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney.

He is the immediate past-President of TSANZ and current Councillor of The Transplantation Society. Professor Chadban also serves as Chair of the Transplant Liaison Advisory Group to The Australian Organ and Tissue Authority, Chair of the CKD group of the AIHW National Vascular Diseases Monitoring Group, and as a member of the ANZDATA Executive. He is Co-Chair of the KDIGO Guideline Group on Kidney Transplant Candidacy and a member of the NHMRC Ethical Guidelines for deceased and living donor transplantation groups.

Professor Chadban received the University Medal for Medicine in Newcastle, trained in Newcastle then moved to Monash to complete FRACP training in Nephrology and a PhD (1995-7) in kidney immunopathology, then a post-doc at Cambridge as a Jacquot scholar, prior to returning to Monash to run the kidney and pancreas transplant program and establish research teams in basic immunology, clinical transplantation and epidemiology of kidney disease. Prof Chadban moved to RPAH and University of Sydney in 2003.

Chadban has published over 200 papers, has over 11,000 citations and H-Index 54. His research themes include:

  1. epidemiology of chronic kidney disease (CKD), as lead investigator in the AusDiab Kidney Study

  2. clinical kidney transplantation - focusing on clinical trials in immunosuppression and long-term outcomes after kidney transplantation.

  3. basic immunology of CKD and transplant rejection, focusing on macrophages and the interface between innate and adaptive immunity. He has had continuous NHMRC project grant funding for 12 years grants and multiple papers in journals including Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Chadban's goals are to better understand the causes of kidney and kidney transplant failure; to increase opportunities for patients to participate in clinical trials; to design and conduct clinical trials which bring lab discoveries to the clinic, address areas important to patients and clinicians, with longer follow-up at lower cost through use of clinical databases and Registries; to increase health care worker understanding and involvement in research; all in a bid to improve outcomes for patients in Australia and worldwide.

Peter Jon Hartshorne, Bsc Civ. Eng and MBA

Mr. Hartshorne was appointed to KHA Board in April 2008. He has a particular interest in research.

 After serving a 6 year cadetship with McKinsey and Co. he went on to work for many top 100 international companies in the areas of Strategy and Technology enablement. He is now the Managing Director, Partner and Founder of The Infinity Group [established 1994] of companies, a private professional services firm in Australia, India and UK.

In addition, Mr. Hartshorne is Chairman of Scholaris International Ltd., an international education based Software Company and Redgum Corporate Pty.Ltd. He is a member of the Remuneration and Succession Planning Committees and was appointed Chair of the KHA Finance Committee March 2016.

Dr Shilpa Jesudason (KHA); MBBS, FRACP, PhD

Dr Jesudason was appointed as Clinical Director at KHA in 2017.

Shilpa is a Staff Specialist Nephrologist and consults in Obstetric Nephrology, General Nephrology and Transplantation at the Central and Northern Adelaide Renal and Transplantation Service (CNARTS) Royal Adelaide Hospital, and the Women's and Children's Hospital, Adelaide.

She trained at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, Flinders Medical Centre and St Mary's Hospital Transplant Unit in London before returning in 2004 to undertake PhD studies in transplantation immunology at the Basil Hetzel Institute, Queen Elizabeth Hospital. 

Her current clinical interests include the management of pregnancy-related issues in women with renal disease, including all stages of CKD, dialysis and transplant patients, living kidney donors and women with hypertension. She is also interested in the immunological pathogenesis of pre-eclampsia and pregnancy as a model for immune tolerance relevant to transplantation, as well as the long-term sequelae of pre-eclampsia. Her current research projects involve defining the peripheral blood immune phenotype in normal pregnancy and pre-eclampsia, using population health datasets to address maternal and foetal outcomes in pregnancies from women with renal disease, and defining patient and clinician perspectives through qualitative research methods.

Professor A Richard Kitching; MB ChB (with distinction), PhD, FRACP, FASN

Professor A Richard Kitching is a Nephrologist at Monash Health and physician-scientist in the Department of Medicine at Monash University.

He is the Director of the Monash University Centre for Inflammatory Diseases and head of the Monash Health Vasculitis Clinic. His clinical practice in in Nephrology and in Paediatric Nephrology helps informs important questions in the causes of immune kidney disease and how they can be better treated.

His research is funded by the NMHRC. His research group working toward more targeted therapies for kidney diseases, in part by understanding the involvement of white blood cells in important causes of kidney disease, so that more targeted and effective treatments can be developed and used. It is regularly published in the most prestigious journals in kidney research, and also published in general journals including Nature, Nature Medicine, The New England Journal of Medicine, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA and the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Prof Kitching is a member of the Editorial Boards of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN), Kidney International, and the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (CJASN). In 2007, he was awarded the Australian and New Zealand Society of Nephrology (ANZSN) TJ Neale Award for Outstanding Contribution to Nephrological Science. He was Chair of the ANZSN Scientific Program and Education Committee from 2007-2011, current Deputy Chair of the ANZSN Scientific Advisory Committee. He has served on NHMRC GRP Panels as a member, Deputy Chair and Chair.

Peter Williams (Consumer VIC), BE ME FIE Aust CP Eng

Peter is now semi-retired having until recently completed 45 years in corporate life. He headed Leighton (now CIMIC) construction group based in Brisbane for 10 years of his 17 years with the group and was a Director of Leighton Contractors for 9 years. He returned to Victoria in 1996 to head up the development for the construction of the Melbourne City Link before branching out on his own in 1998 to for the McMullan – Williams Management Group that he headed up until selling in June this year. Peter led teams to develop, restructure and managed on behalf of GE, ABN Amro, ANZ and many high profile companies, assets and corporate structures all over the World.  

Peter, is also a transplant patient, blessed to receive a transplant on the 13 Sept. 13 after having spent 4 years as a Dialysis Patient. He first learnt of having kidney disease in 1998, in the form of IgA Nephrology with the decrease in kidney function having been traced back to a bout of “Ross River Fever” contracted in 1986 whilst building the Channel Island Power Station in Darwin.

On commencing Dialysis Peter with the desire to develop a level of health that would enable him to firstly receive a transplant kidney and secondly through achieving a higher level of health so gaining a level of self - respect through greater control of his outcomes. Fortunately Peter had had a history in sport and setting a regime around a defined exercise program suited his rather determined nature. So his initial program involved walking between 12 and 15 km at least 4 times a week. Within six months he was alternating the walking with riding a bike 35 – 60km on the alternate days.

Nephrologist Professor Ian Fraser, who incidentally had been the person to diagnose his fate in 1998, noted that the personal effort was having a huge impact on his vitals and suggested Peter seek ways to advertise or promote his program to other patients and so the idea of “Pete’s Big Red Challenge” was born. 

“Pete’s Big Red Challenge” saw Pete and a team of Friends walking out of Canberra on the 18th May 13. After 8 days walking and riding a bike arriving at the Royal Melbourne on Sunday 2nd June 13. Along the way preparing a video (for patients) to demonstrate that End Stage Kidney Decease need not be a ‘life sentence’ and raise critical funds to assist Royal Melbourne Hospital to engage staff to assist and encourage other sufferers to a better outcome.

Peter is pleased to offer his services to the “Foundation” to hopefully offer back something in gratitude for what the various teams in Kidney Health have provide him through his journey as a patient.

Current Grants

Medical and Scientific Research Grant 2019-2020 Funding Round

The Kidney Health Australia Research Medical and Scientific 2019-2020 funding round is now open.

Kidney Health Australia focuses on three streams of kidney disease research:

•   Stream 1: Improving quality of life and duration of life for those living with CKD
•   Stream 2: Making kidney transplants last longer
•   Stream 3: Preventing the progression of chronic kidney disease

Kidney Health Australia Research funds a single stream each year, rotating annually. In 2018, Kidney Health Australia Research sought applications from:

Stream 1: Improving quality of life and duration of life for those living with chronic kidney disease (CKD)

This year, the Kidney Health Australia Research 2019-2020 Funding Round will focus on Stream 2 ‘Making kidney transplants last longer’.

Kidney Health Australia Research will prioritise research in three areas:

  • basic science
  • psychosocial
  • clinical science/population health

Applicants are advised to read the Kidney Health Australia Research Guide to Applicants before submitting their application. The application form can be downloaded here.

The deadline for funding submissions is Friday 14th February 2020.

Queries can be directed to [email protected]

Research previously funded

2019 Kidney Health Australia Research grants

In 2019 Kidney Health Australia awarded five grants, totalling $125,000 to the following recipients:

  • Dr Kimberly Crawford (Monash Uni) - What are the factors influencing transplant outcomes for patients from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds?
  • A/Prof Jennifer Schneider (Uni of Newcastle) - The feasibility and acceptability of using fingerprick blood sampling to monitor blood immunosuppressant concentrations in renal transplant recipients.
  • A/Prof Kate Wyburn (Uni of Sydney) - Characterisation of T-follicular-helper and B cell subsets to aid risk stratification in antibody mediated injury in kidney transplantation: Beyond donor specific antibodies

2018 Kidney Health Australia Research grants

In 2018 Kidney Health Australia awarded five grants, totalling $250,000 to the following recipients:

Basic Science:
Professor Jonathan Gleadle
Flinders University, South Australia 
“Roles for microRNAs in Compensatory Renal Hypertrophy?”

After kidney donation by a healthy individual, the remaining kidney by the donor increases in kidney cell size, compensating for a functional capacity of approximately 60-80% of kidney function of two kidneys. The mechanism that drives this still remains elusive. This project will use novel genetic tools to identify key components that lead to healthy kidney growth.

Read the project update here


Associate Professor Rachael Morton
University of Sydney 
“Symptom Monitoring with Feedback Trial (SWIFT) Pilot: A feasibility and acceptability study of ANZDATA E-PROMs data capture and feedback”

People on kidney dialysis often suffer from symptoms of severe and overwhelming pain, tiredness, nausea, cramping, itching, trouble sleeping, depression and anxiety, which contributes to a poor quality of life. The Symptom monitoring With Feedback Trial (SWIFT) pilot will test how easy it is to measure symptoms and quality of life every 3-6 months through the use of a table that will feed this information back to the patients' dialysis nurse and kidney doctor. SWIFT aims to improve quality of life and survival by focussing on symptom management and encouraging communication between doctors and their patients.

Read the project update here.

Dr Louise Purtell
Queensland University of Technology 
“The REPOSE Study (Randomised Evaluation of the Provision of a Sleep Intervention in End-stage Kidney Disease)”

Many people with chronic kidney disease (CKD) experience sleep problems like difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep and drowsiness during the day. This can lead to poor quality of life and can also worsen other health problems. Our team will test whether a personalised program including activities such as relaxation techniques and simple exercise may improve sleep quality. An individual sleep plan will be developed for each patient.


Professor David Castle
St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne 
“A randomised controlled trial of psychosocial intervention to improve health outcomes in people with kidney disease” 

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a serious health problem. On top of physical effects, CKD patients often experience depression and anxiety which then affects their ability to follow treatment, their quality of life, social interaction and general wellbeing. The Kidney Optimal Health Program (KOHP) provides one-on-one individual support about stress and vulnerability and its impact on health and well-being.

Learn more about the study here.

Professor Angela Webster
University of Sydney 
“SUCCESS: Supporting culturally-diverse adults with CKD to engage in shared decision making successfully (Phase II)”

We have developed a way of helping dialysis patients through the use of tablet and phone app. The aim of this research is to help people on dialysis understand the choices they have about their health, and help them be more involved with those decisions. To support our multi-cultural community we have translated the app into Arabic and Mandarin initially. The intention is for dialysis patients to use the app to make changes that will improve their health and quality of life, and reduce their need for unscheduled or emergency health care visits.

Read the project update here.

Medical research funded – 2003 - 2015

Here are details of the medical research we have funded over the years. Each schedule can be downloaded.

Funding Research Initatives for Better Kidney Health Tomorrow

The Funding Research Initiatives for Better Kidney Health Tomorrow report showcases the cutting-edge research we have funded since our organisation was first registered in 1968.

Download it here.

As a major funder of kidney research outside the National Health and Medical Research Council, we have underpinned the evidence base that drives strategy and policy development for the advancement of public health, with specific regard to kidney health.

Support of kidney research is crucial for:

  • the long-term improvement of health outcomes for those with, or at risk of, kidney disease
  • the development of state and federal government kidney-related health policy
  • building Australia’s evidence base to drive and underpin an accessible and equitable healthcare service.

In funding our research program, we receive support from institutions, organisations and, importantly, individual benefactors. 

A notable example is the bequest that enabled the establishment of the Bootle Award Medical Research Grant.

AusDiab Study

AusDiab is the largest Australian longitudinal population-based study examining the natural history of diabetes, pre-diabetes, heart disease and kidney disease. The study, which is run by the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute, was awarded the 2006 Victorian Department of Human Services Public Health Research Award for Excellence. KHA considered this work to be of enormous importance to Australian’s affected by kidney disease and as such provided significant seed funding to enable the inclusion of a ‘kidney component’ in the AusDiab study.

The baseline study conducted in 1999–2000 provided benchmark national data on the prevalence (or number of people) with diabetes, obesity, hypertension and kidney disease in Australia. The second phase of AusDiab, completed in December 2005, was a five year follow-up of the people who participated in the baseline survey. A twelve year follow-up was completed in 2012, with the results released in August 2013.

The results of these studies provide a unique picture of the incidence (or number of new cases) of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and kidney disease over 12 years, and allows us to improve our understanding of the factors that increase the risk of these conditions. The results have been presented at key National and International meetings, and have been used by health services and Governments in planning provision of health services, providing Consensus Statements and in considering screening for CKD.

KHA provided seed funding of $20,000 to enable the inclusion of a “kidney component” in the AusDiab study, comprising the addition of urine testing (ACR, PCR and dipstick analysis) to the planned measurements of biochemical status (which included serum creatinine and diabetic status) plus measurement of blood pressure, behaviours relevant to health and an assessment of quality of life using the SF-36 instrument. A second round of strategic funding from KHA of $300,000 over 2003-5, matched by funds provided by the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, enabled the ongoing AusDiab Kidney study which continues to this day.

The following is selected publications resulting from the AusDiab Kidney Study. The research was primarily designed and supervised by Professor Steve Chadban, A/Professor Kevan Polkinghorn and Professor Bob Atkins, however the work has been performed by many talented researchers.

In addition to key AusDiab-Kidney papers, this list includes papers which arose through collaborative efforts whereby AusDiab contributed to pooled data, most importantly and strategically through the CKD-Prognosis Consortium, or served to provide an Australian adult control population for comparative studies with indigenous Australians and with kidney transplant recipients as examples. Both avenues will continue to provide important papers, with ongoing collaborative work in train through the CKD-Prognosis Consortium and with ANZDATA. The list below does not include several manuscripts in preparation, which currently include important papers on changes in Quality of Life over time in CKD and another on progression of CKD in a community cohort.

Open publications here.

ResearchThe Priscilla Kincaid-Smith Kidney Research Foundation
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