Dr. Dirk Lange Receives Prestigious CIHR New Investigator Award

The Canadian Institute for Health Research (CIHR) presented this highly competitive award to Dr. Lange in recognition of the translational research program he has developed, focusing on The Development of Novel Therapeutic and Preventative Strategies for Kidney Stone Disease. This award will allow Dr. Lange and his research team to continue diligently working on their novel research towards improving the treatment and prevention of kidney stone disease.

Novelty of Research Program: Currently, no basic science or translational research program dedicated to developing novel treatment/preventative options for kidney stone disease (KSD) exists across the country, making the research program at The Stone Centre at VGH the first of its kind in Canada. The novelty of Dr. Lange’s independent research program is further illustrated by the approach taken to develop innovative treatment/preventative strategies for KSD. To date, the majority of research in this area is driven by clinicians and focuses on improving surgical interventions or diagnostic tools in an attempt to decrease the incidence of KSD. While some progress has been made in improving these aspects, the incidence continues to climb. This is mostly due to the fact that current approaches do not address specific mechanisms associated with the failure of treatment and preventative strategies.

Dr. Dirk Lange
Dr. Dirk Lange

Dr. Lange deems that a paradigm shift in research is required to generate innovative and efficacious treatment/preventative options. As such, his research program focuses on identifying and targeting specific molecular mechanisms that have remained unconsidered. Specifically he is focusing on improving the functionality of ureteral stents, which are the most abundantly used treatment to maintain some urine flow in the presence of an obstructing stone, or following surgical intervention to remove the obstructing stone while the ureter heals. Currently, ureteral stents are associated with significant complications in at least 80% of stented patients including infection, encrustation and discomfort associated with the fact that overall ureteral function is significantly impaired with a stent in place and minimal urine flow occurs due to gravity and pressure changes in the filling bladder. The end result is residual pressure buildup and expansion of the kidney. In this context, Dr. Lange’s independent research program studies molecular mechanisms that drive ureteral dysfunction associated with obstruction and indwelling ureteral stents and focuses on the development of novel stent coatings to prevent device-associated infection and encrustation. In addition, he is studying mechanisms that drive recurrent KSD in an attempt to develop novel therapies to prevent disease recurrence. In this context, he is studying the role of the intestinal microbiome in recurrent KSD as dietary oxalate is a major source of oxalate in the body.

We would like to give a special thank you to the members of the Stone Centre Advisory Group for their support and guidance in our research!