Collaborating for the Advancement of Interdisciplinary Research in Benign Urology


History of the George M. O'Brien Centers and CAIRIBU

CAIRIBU is a community of NIDDK-funded benign urology research centers and programs. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) U54 Urology O’Brien Cooperative Research Centers formed the basis for CAIRIBU.

The O’Brien Centers were initially established as P50 programs by the NIDDK in 1987. Each Center worked independently until 2012, at which time they were converted to the U54 mechanism. This was done to encourage collaboration between funded centers and with the larger research community.

In December 2013, at the “Urology Program Directors’ Meeeting,” NIDDK program staff brought together the research teams of the U54 O’Brien Centers as well as those of the P20 Developmental Centers for Interdisciplinary Research in Benign Urology and the K12 Urology Career Development Programs. These “Directors’ Meetings” continued annually until 2018, at which time the meetings were formally transitioned to “CAIRIBU Meetings” in an effort to more formally promote interactions and collaboration between constituent Centers and Programs.

The 2020 CAIRIBU meeting was held virtually December 3-4.  Meeting materials can be found HERE.

The 2021 CAIRIBU meeting will be held virtually December 1 – 3, 2021.   More info to follow.


Mission of the U54 O’Brien Centers Program:

  1. Support the next generation of urologic researchers by providing meaningful education, support and mentoring
  2. Cultivate new research tools and ideas by expanding the collaborative network within and outside of the traditional urologic research field
  3. Enhance knowledge of mechanisms associated with normal development, function, and disease pathology related to the urinary tract, kidney, and prostate
  4. Translate the knowledge and tools generated from our collaborative work to the clinical setting to reduce the burden of benign urologic illness by developing and testing therapies to better treat, manage, and prevent these diseases

The first of the U54 George M. O’Brien Centers for Benign Urology Research was awarded to Mayo Clinic (2013-2018). The Mayo O’Brien Center team was led John Lieske, MD, a nephrologist specializing in the clinical management of urolithiasis and whose active research interests are detailed here:


In 2014, two new U54 Centers received 5-year O’Brien Center grants. Both centers were renewed in 2019:

Columbia University

(PIs, Cathy Mendelsohn, PhD; Jonathan Barasch, MD, PhD; and Ali Gharavi, MD)

University of Wisconsin-Madison

(PI, Will Ricke, PhD)


In 2016, a fourth U54 O’Brien Center was established:

University of Pittsburgh

(PI, Zhou Wang, PhD)


Kristina Penniston, PhD, RDN, is the PI of a U24 Urology Centers Program (DK127726) that provides coordination and directs interactions between CAIRIBU Centers and Programs. She is a senior scientist in the Department of Urology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.