Dr. Kymora Scotland, Assistant Professor of Urology, received a $150,000 UCLA Health Innovation Challenge Award for her ureteral peristalsis research project. Her work will focus on identifying and better characterizing the specific cell population responsible for the initiation of ureteral peristalsis.Peristalsis is an important process that, through a series of muscle contractions, propels urine toward the bladder. This automatic function takes place largely in the ureter, which is the tube that connects the kidney to the bladder.
According to Dr. Scotland, “We have a limited grasp of the signaling pathways involved in both dysfunctional and normal peristalsis. Through a better understanding of the molecular underpinnings of the peristaltic process, we will be able to address the disorganized ureteral contractions identified in occurrences ranging from congenital disorders such as ureteropelvic junction obstruction, to dysfunctional peristalsis seen after ureteral stent placement.” This dysfunction contributes to the renal obstruction and eventual chronic kidney disease seen in numerous urologic disorders, so her work will ultimately contribute to the development of therapeutic targets for renal protection. The particular innovation of this project is the development and utilization of a novel tool for discovering and robustly evaluating individual contractile cells.
The UCLA Health Innovation Challenge was initiated to provide caregivers, staff, trainees, patients, volunteers and students the opportunity to help advance long-lasting health and wellness solutions. A total of 39 projects were funded and more than $1.1 million was disbursed from health system funds and philanthropic contributions from UCLA donors committed to helping foster clinical innovation.