Collaborating for the Advancement of Interdisciplinary Research in Benign Urology


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CAIRIBU U54 O'Brien Center News

From the University of Wisconsin-Madison George M. O’Brien Urology Center (U54):

UW-Madison was awarded $6 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in renewed support for its U54 center of research excellence in urology. The center is one of only three nationwide; other sites include Columbia University in New York and the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania. The George M. O’Brien Center at UW–Madison is a multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional center that includes researchers at University of  Texas Southwestern and the University of Massachusetts-Boston. The overall research objective is to identify cellular and molecular mediators in the development of lower urinary tract dysfunction (LUTD) and prostate-related lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS).Specific Center goals include advancing the scientific understanding and medical management of prostatic fibrosis, a condition which increases prostatic stiffening and impairs urination, ultimately leading to LUTS.  Additionally, the center’s scientists are studying associations between LUTS and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a noncancerous disease that leads to prostate enlargement and often causes bladder outlet obstruction (BOO).

Will Ricke, PhD, is the PI and Director of the UW-Madison U54 O’Brien Center; Chad Vezina, PhD, is Associate Director. In addition to Dr. Ricke and Dr. Vezina, other researchers involved in the Center include Department of Urology affiliate members: Dr. Paul Marker, Professor, Associate Dean for Research, and Vice Chair of Pharmaceutical Sciences in the Madison School of Pharmacy; and Dr. Dale Bjorling, Associate Dean for Research and Professor in Surgical Sciences at UW–Madison School of Veterinary Medicine. Additionally, Dr. Douglas Strand at UT-Southwestern Medical Center, and Dr. Jill Macoska of the University of Massachusetts-Boston College of Science and Mathematics both co-lead projects within the center.

From the Columbia University George M. O’Brien Urology Center (U54):

  • A paper from the laboratory of Cathy Mendelsohn, PhD (co-PI of the Columbia University O’Brien Center) published in Nature Communications, Pparg promotes differentiation and regulates mitochondrial gene expression in bladder epithelial cells.” In the paper by Liu et al, the authors used constitutive and inducible cell-type-specific Cre mouse models to elucidate the role of Pparg (peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ), a nuclear hormone receptor that regulates numerous cellular functions, in urothelial sub-populations. They found that Pparg plays critical roles in devevlopment, homeostasis, and regeneration of the urothelium. Other PIs at the Columbia University U54 Center are: Jonathan Barasch, MD, PhD; Ali Gharavi, MD; and Anne-Catrin Uhlemann, MD, PhD.

From the University of Pittsburgh George M. O’Brien Urology Center (U54):

Wei Chen, PhD

CAIRIBU K12 Career Development Program News

From the University of Wisconsin-Madison Urologic Research (KURe) Career Development Program

Two K12 scholars have started in the UW-Madison K12 Program. Dr. Lauren Baker is an Assistant Scientist in the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine. She will use a multi-omics approach to discover genetic contributions to urinary stone disease in a canine model of calcium oxalate stones, ultimately attempting to identify RNA biomarkers for calcium oxalate stone formation in dogs and humans. Dr. Matthew Grimes, an assistant professor and urologist at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine, will study mechanisms of development of lichen sclerosis and urethral scarring. His ultimate goals include developing minimally invasive surgical and nonsurgical treatments of lichen sclerosis, a significant contributor to urethral stricture disease in men.

From the Duke University Urologic Research (KURe) Career Development Program

Sonali Advani, MBBS, MPH, is a new Duke K12 Scholar. Dr. Advani is an assistant professor of Medicine in the Duke University School of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases and International Health. She is also the associate director of the Duke Infection Control Outreach Network. Dr. Advani trained in internal medicine and infectious disease at University of Alabama at Birmingham after earning a Master of Public Health degree at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and a research fellowship in infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Dr. Advani’s research focuses on leveraging urinalyses criteria to improve the diagnosis of urinary tract infections (UTIs) in the elderly. UTIs in older adults pose a diagnostic dilemma to most clinicians in part because the high incidence of asymptomatic bacteriuria and inability to express genitourinary symptoms commonly results in inappropriate culturing and adverse events. Dr. Advani’s proposal for developing urinalyses criteria predictive of infection in older adults will help reduce patient harm from inappropriate antibiotic use.

From the University of California San Francisco-Kaiser Permanente Urologic Epidemiology (UroEpi) K12 Career Development Program

Welcome to a new K12 Scholar in the UCSF-Kaiser Permanente KUroEpi ProgramEva Raphael, MD, MPH completed a clinical research fellowship in the School of Medicine at UCSF. Dr. Raphael recently published results of her analysis of the infection prevalence of a specific strain of E. coli in San Francisco health care facilities – see the June 2020 online article, “Differential trends in extended-spectrum beta-lactamase-producing Escherichia coli infections in four health care facilities in a single metropolitan area: a retrospective analysis,” in Microbial Drug Resistance.

P20 Exploratory Centers for Interdisciplinary Research in Benign Urology News


The P20 Center at the University of Alabama (UAB) at Birmingham (PI, Dean Assimos, MD) was renewed for 2 more years to continue its research on the influence of obesity on oxalate metabolism and handling in people who form calcium oxalate kidney stones. During its first 2 years, the P20 grant was used to establish the Center for Research on Obesity and Oxalate Kidney Stones, a multidisciplinary research center that includes investigators from UAB Nutrition Sciences and Medicine.



Kathryn Flynn, PhD, Professor of Medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin, was awarded a 2-year award to establish a P20 Center that brings together multiple investigators with the necessary expertise to develop, implement, and evaluate a novel health system care pathway for treating women with urinary incontinence. Important aspects of Dr. Flynn’s P20 Center are its creation of a Patient Advisory Panel to provide guidance on research strategies and progress and its Educational Enrichment Program for medical school students that will provide research experiences and a seminar series that includes speakers from backgrounds that are non-traditional in benign urology research.

Greg Tasian, MD, MSc, MSCE is an assistant professor of urology at the University of Pennsylvania and an attending pediatric urologist in the Division of Urology at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Dr. Tasian’s new P20 Center, the Center for Machine Learning in Urology, will apply machine learning to improve the understanding of the pathophysiology, diagnosis, risk stratification, and prediction of responses to treatment of children and adults with benign urological diseases. Notable aims of the CHOP P20 Center are to use machine learning to better predict ureteral stone passage, facilitate the application and use of machine learning by other investigators, and offer an Educational Enrichment Program aimed at enhancing collaborative research.