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AUA Investigator 2020: February Issue

Feature Articles

StoneLab Scientific Symposium Meeting Report

The AUA and Endourological Society with the help of the R.O.C.K. Society put on a first-of-its-kind meeting on December 6-7, 2019. It was the largest scientific meeting ever held at the AUA Headquarters, with over 150 attendees present. It was unique in that it brought together a wide range of scientists, surgeons, and industry researchers to think “outside the box” and identify needs for research and form new collaborations to advance kidney stone research. This diverse group included geologists, microbiologists, engineers, chemists, and research and development personnel from industry. Scientists from different fields explained what Geobiology is and how it could help us understand kidney stone formation. We learned that stone formation is actually a dynamic process of dissolution and formation. Scientists also elucidated the role of the urinary and intestinal microbiome and the effects of the metabolome on the formation of kidney stones. The role of biofilms and how they can further infection kidney stone formation was discussed. In particular, the meeting explored new ways to better understand how kidney stones form and how they can be broken up, by looking to fields outside of urology.

Beyond stone pathogenesis, leaders of their fields also discussed new treatment technologies including ultrasonic energy to fragment kidney stones in a non-invasive method. Attendees heard the fascinating stories of how the Thulium Fiber Laser was developed for use to treat kidney stones, as well as the new frontier of robotic endoscopy and how this might change how we treat kidney stones in the future. In order to better understand the landscape of kidney stone disease and how patients are treated, we heard how Big Data and Artificial Intelligence can help us develop predictive modeling to guide clinical decisions and determine outcomes. Finally, we looked at the process of scientific discovery and intellectual property with a session on research funding, working with the FDA and commercialization of inventions with the potential to improve clinical care.

One of the main takeaways of this meeting was that more multidisciplinary collaboration is necessary to make life better for kidney stone patients. Basic science researchers were fascinated to learn more about kidney stone disease and physicians in attendance were also enthralled by hearing about how different fields such as geobiology, metabolomics, robotics and Big Data can help them in their research endeavors. As one of the speakers so aptly stated, “Collaborate until it hurts…” and that is how we should proceed forward to advance treatment of kidney stone disease, and reduce the suffering of our patients. Further collaborative efforts will include online meetings and small group sessions. For those interested, please contact Drs. Khurshid Ghani or Ben H. Chew.

Khurshid Ghani, MD
University of Michigan

Ben H. Chew, MD
University of Britsh Columbia

Congratulations 2020 Urology Care Foundation Research Scholars!

The AUA and the Urology Care Foundation, the official foundation of the AUA, are excited to announce that the 2020 Urology Care Foundation Research Scholar Awardees have been selected. Initiated in 1975, the Research Scholar Award program is the Foundation’s flagship grant program and has provided over $25 million to support over 600 future research leaders. Clinical and postdoctoral fellows and early-career faculty within the five years of their first academic appointment are eligible to apply for $40,000 per year for one or two years of support.

This year’s cohort consists of 21 exceptional urology researchers and physician scientists conducting research across the spectrum of urologic diseases and conditions. Learn more about these young investigators and their research by following the links below, or view the recent press release.

"We are delighted to be able to support, with the Urology Care Foundation, such a strong new group of young urology investigators dedicating their time and talents to tackling some of today's most important challenges facing patients with urologic diseases and conditions," said Aria F. Olumi, MD, chair of the AUA's Research Council. "We will be looking for great things to come from the results of their work, which will advance the Foundation's mission to improve patients' lives through education and research."

Federal Funding Workshop at AUA2020

The “Funding Opportunities and Grant Writing Guidance for Early-Career Investigators” research forum, held every year during the AUA Annual Meeting, provides a unique opportunity for the urology research community to learn more about navigating federal research funding. This two-hour event features program officers representing different NIH Institutes that typically fund urology research. With this year’s meeting convening in Washington, D.C., the AUA is able to expand the number of institutes represented at the meeting. Invited agencies include:

  • Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, Prostate Cancer Research Program (DoD PCRP)
  • Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
  • National Institute on Aging (NIA)
  • National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
  • Veterans Health Administration (VA)

This forum also features a keynote presentation on writing a successful grant application, a presentation that covers other medical associations and societies that fund urologic research, and a presentation on how to achieve successful research collaborations internationally.

In addition to the invaluable insights provided during these presentations, program officers are often available after the event to meet one-on-one with attendees. This is an important event not only for early-career researchers and physician-scientists, but will appeal to those applying for their first federal grant as well. This year’s meeting will be held on Sunday, May 17 from 1-3p.m. at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center: Salon C.

Visit to view additional research programming.


Making an IMPACT

Leading the Way to Federal Research Funding

A million-dollar idea is worth very little without the necessary investment to help transform it into reality. The same holds true for biomedical research. Federal funding from agencies like the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are considered the gold standard for future success, but these awards are highly competitive and the application process can be difficult to navigate.

Launched in 2012, the Early-Career Investigators Workshop has helped young researchers overcome these hurdles and continues to clear the path to funding success. Since then, participants have gone on to earn a combined $9.2 million dollars in federal funding! More importantly, these funds are being used to help find cures for urologic diseases such as urinary tract infections, prostate cancer, pediatric conditions and bladder cancer.

The Early-Career Investigators Workshop is held annually and encompasses in-depth grant writing training as well as presentations on important aspects of developing a sustainable research career. This meeting is unique because participants are paired with senior, scientific advisors for one-to-one mentoring sessions. Attendees provide drafts of their current grant proposals and NIH-funded urology research experts provide individualized feedback throughout the meeting. In addition, faculty members hold a mock peer-review session with real applications to show participants how their future proposals will be evaluated by federal review committees.

Workshop participants are also given the opportunity to interact with grant program officers from different institutes within the NIH and other funders to learn how to navigate respective grant application processes. Finally, faculty members are invited to give research career development presentations on topics ranging from establishing successful collaborations, transitioning between institutions and how to navigate the negotiation process.

The Workshop’s reputation as a high-impact educational resource is largely due to the faculty who volunteer their time and expertise to help the next generation of physician scientists and researchers. In addition, the Urology Care Foundation’s support helps to ensure that early-career scientists have the needed travel support, typically limited at their institutions, to attend important educational activities throughout the year.