Drs. Marshall Stoller MD and Sunita Ho PhD awarded NIH grant to study the biomineralization in the human renal papilla

Multiscale form and function can predict renal biomineralization

Drs. Stoller and Ho have assembled a novel interdisciplinary team of experts to study the biomineralization in the human renal papilla.

Dr. Sunita Ho, a biomaterials and bioengineering expert, Dr. Marshall Stoller, a nationally recognized urologic clinician and leader in the study and treatment of nephrolithiasis, are collaborating with Drs. Andrew Minor and James Schuck, experts in imaging and materials science, and Dr. Randall Kramer an expert on integrins and extracellular matrices of tissues. This effort is an integral part of collaboration at UCSF between the Schools of Dentistry and Medicine to investigate differences in normal and pathologic mineralizations in various human organs.

Their proposed research aims to further the understanding of the fundamental building blocks for mineral formation, which will help direct potential novel clinical interventions to mitigate the increasing global incidence of the urinary stone disease. These multidisciplinary and multicampus collaborations (UC San Francisco, UC Berkeley, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory) within their Biomineralization Group will catalyze a change in the established paradigm by identifying the underpinnings of biomineral formations in human tissues, something that has not yet been well-studied.

24-hour urine collections are currently used as the gold standard to categorize patients and direct medical therapy. However, such urine collections are normal in 30% of patients with recurrent nephrolithiasis. A biomaterial and bioengineering approach will help improve upon this stagnating approach and shift the current paradigm in diagnostic and therapeutic approaches.

Their established interdisciplinary working group has already achieved some breakthroughs that would not have been accomplished in their individual silos. The potential rewards of this research are dramatic. They have already successfully presented work at a variety of national scientific meetings and the synergy and excitement are contagious and extend from UC San Francisco to the campuses of UC Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The employment of the bioengineering approach with an emphasis on materials science and mechanics to solve widespread and increasing global biomedical problems has been previously underutilized. This work will lead to impactful science and effective clinical interventions. It will also provoke new lines of research in the scientific community.