Cluster of Excellence –
University of Freiburg

BIOSS Member Wins Young Investigator Award 2012

Tobias Huber receives internationally renowned prize for nephrology

Prof Dr Tobias Huber, a nephrologist at the University Medical Center Freiburg and an associated member of the BIOSS Centre for Biological Signalling Studies, received the Young Investigator Award 2012 at the annual conference of the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) in San Diego. This award is presented annually to an excellent researcher and is considered to be the most important award for kidney researchers who are under 45 years old. It has only been presented abroad twice, and this year it was presented to Tobias Huber, who is also Senior Consultant at the Clinic of Nephrology and General Medicine in Freiburg.

Researching the structure and diseases of kidney filtration units
Tobias Huber is head of a research group that focuses on the structure and disease of kidney filtration units. Our kidneys consist of roughly one million microscopically small filtration units. These units filter our blood by pressing it through a highly complex system of several filters. The filtration process ensures that harmful substances are excreted as waste and as products of metabolism. Advanced diseases of this highly sensitive kidney filtration system are one of the most common causes of chronic renal failure and the need for dialysis.

New findings contributing to a better understanding of renal diseases
Huber was presented this award for the work he and his team have done toward a better understanding of the structure and function of kidney filters. For this purpose, he developed certain new techniques, such as transplanting human kidney molecules to so-called model organisms, such as flatworms and fruit flies. His team’s findings have contributed to a better understanding of renal disease and will hopefully enable scientists to find innovative therapeutic approaches for patients suffering from kidney disease.

Nephrologists excited about Huber’s research
“What Tobias Huber and his team have discovered not only helps us to better understand the different processes of disease, but also why we tend to lose certain kidney functions as we get older,” Prof Dr Gerd Walz, the Director of the Clinic of Nephrology and Huber’s mentor, said. “It was really impressive how Tobias Huber was able to get everyone in San Diego – 14,000 nephrologists from all over the world – excited about his work. For many of them, his presentation was the highlight of this year's conference," Walz added.