Dr. David Killilea PhD, Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute

Metals have fundamental roles within human metabolism.  Nutritional metals are tightly regulated by coordinated molecular and cellular responses, but imbalances can persist and lead to chronic disease. Conversely, toxic metals can disrupt metabolism by masquerading as nutritional metals but with aberrant binding or regulatory effect. Therefore, Dr. Killilea’s group is focused on developing novel, sensitive biomarkers to better understand the pharmacodynamics of key metals and reveal new targets for disease intervention.

Dr. Killilea's expertise in the study of metals within human metabolism has further added to the breadth of research being done by Drs. Stoller and Chi.  Metals other than calcium (e.g. zinc and sodium) can have an effect on stone formation , but whether the mechanism is direct or instead indirectly altering calcium homeostasis is unknown. Heavy metals (e.g cadmium) appear to accelerate the biomineralization process, but this has rarely been studied in detail. Given the prevalence of nutrient metal imbalances in diets and the increasing penetrance of heavy metals into the environment, a comprehensive analysis of the impact of metals on nephrolithiasis risk is needed. It could be that metal imbalances may play a role in the pathogenesis of urinary stone disease. Understanding the impact of metals on nephrolithiasis will help define the pathophysiology of calculi formation and will help formulate strategies to prevent recurrence.

Read more about Dr. Killilea and his research on his CHORI Profile.