About Us


Flinders researchers are involved in a range of clinical and basic science studies to improve the detection and treatment of various renal diseases, including cancer.

The crossover between laboratory and clinical research combined with strong collaboration with other disciplines locally and internationally is helping advance research in several key areas.

The university’s work is founded on the clinical activities of the Flinders Medical Centre renal unit and includes projects in haemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis, transplantation, general nephrology and basic science.

The department also takes a central role in undergraduate teaching and training of renal specialists and welcomes enquiries from students and doctors interested in pursuing higher research degrees.

"A major research focus is exploring the mechanisms by which cells actually sense oxygen. We believe this could hold vital clues in understanding cancer progression and in developing prognostic markers in cancer."
Dr Jonathan Gleadle
Professor of Medicine
Flinders University

Basic science research

The ability of cells to sense oxygen and its disturbance in renal disease and cancer is a major focus of research being directed by Renal Department academic head Professor Jonathan Gleadle

The project is examining vital physiological processes such as angiogenesis and the control of erythropoiesis by oxygen. In renal cancer this process is defective and leads to abnormal and excessive growth of blood vessels supplying renal tumours.

Particular microRNA molecules increase with low oxygen and in cancers – an occurrence that is important in cancer progression and for developing prognostic markers. A current focus is the purification of small vesicles known as exosomes from blood and urine as they contain large amounts of microRNAs.

The studies involve close collaboration with colleagues in gastroenterology and with researchers at Adelaide University and Oxford University. The team is also part of the Flinders Centre for Cancer Prevention and Control.

Clinical studies

The renal team has developed an extensive clinical research program which includes partnerships with colleagues from other medical disciplines together with joint studies involving other hospitals. Major projects include:

  • Examining vascular function in haemodialysis in collaboration with clinical pharmacology, and vaccination in dialysis patients.
  • Point of care biochemistry testing and other clinical studies in patients undergoing haemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.
  • Studying the benefits of exercise and nutritional intervention in dialysis patients.
  • Research in renal transplantation in collaboration with colleagues at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Royal Adelaide Hospital.
  • Joint research with ophthalmology to define genes responsible for the development of diabetic nephropathy.
  • Studies using cardiac magnetic resonance imaging in patients with renal disease.