Diabetic nephropathy represents the leading cause of kidney failure in people with diabetes and is the greatest cause of entry onto the kidney transplantation programme. Currently diabetes is treated with drugs that regulate blood sugar levels and blood pressure. Whilst these treatments slow disease progression in the diabetic kidney, over a protracted period of time many people will still develop kidney failure. As a result, there is a desperate need to improve therapeutic intervention to combat the long-term complications of this lifelong incapacitating metabolic disease.

The School of Life Sciences’ Dr Claire Hills and Professor Paul Squires have been awarded an EFSD/Boehringer award of €100k to examine how high levels of blood sugar cause cells of the kidney to malfunction. Specifically, they are interested in how cells of the kidney talk to each other and how this level of conversation may become compromised in disease, changes, which is believed, are linked to a series of inflammatory events.

In collaboration with clinical colleagues, the project will investigate the ability of a new drug to help restore those detrimental changes in the kidney, an aspiration which has the potential for development of improved therapies designed to prevent progression of kidney complications of diabetes, thus reducing the number of patients developing kidney failure.


EFSD is a non-profit foundation, which seeks to support the highest quality research in Europe to find a cure for all types of diabetes and associated complications and to prevent their onset. The EFSD aims to co-operate with other government and non-government agencies in order to increase funding in European diabetes research as a means of achieving its goals. Through its various activities and programmes, the Foundation also strives to enhance awareness in Europe of the severity and magnitude of this devastating disease

The Boehringer Ingelheim group is one of the world’s 20 leading pharmaceutical companies. Headquartered in Ingelheim, Germany, Boehringer Ingelheim operates globally with 142 affiliates and a total of more than 47,400 employees. The focus of the family-owned company, founded in 1885, is researching, developing, manufacturing and marketing new medications of high therapeutic value for human and veterinary medicine.