Effective 1 September 2021, Tom Nijenhuis has been appointed Professor of Rare Kidney Diseases at Radboud university medical center/Radboud University. He coordinates the care of adult patients with rare kidney diseases and conducts research on diseases of the kidney filters and renal tubules..
Over two million Dutch people suffer from kidney disease. In most people, this is a result of another disorder, such as diabetes or vascular disease. A smaller group has one of the many primary kidney diseases, which are almost without exception rare. In his research, Tom Nijenhuis focuses mainly on two parts of the kidneys: the filters and the tubules. The million filters (glomeruli) filter the blood and ensure that, in a healthy state, for example proteins and red blood cells do not end up in the urine. It is then up to the kidney tubules to retrieve the water, salt and other useful substances from this glomerular filtrate. What remains is urine containing waste products. As a professor, Nijenhuis continues his research into rare disorders of the kidney filters (glomerular kidney disease) and of the kidney tubules (tubular kidney disease), which lead to urinary protein loss, chronic kidney failure or severe losses of salts and minerals.
Customized research and personalized care
In addition, as coordinator of a team of clinical experts, Nijenhuis will be responsible for the care of adult patients within the Radboudumc Expertise Center for Rare Kidney Diseases (REZN). The center is affiliated with the European Rare Kidney Disorders Reference Network (ERKNet). Research into the diagnosis and treatment of rare kidney diseases is also performed from the center and the reference network. For example, Nijenhuis coordinates clinical research into innovative, personalized treatments. These so-called N-of-1 studies, in which the individual patient receives both medicine and placebo over different periods of time, are particularly relevant for rare diseases because they involve small groups of patients.
After he studied Medicine, Tom Nijenhuis (1977, Doetinchem) performed PhD research at the Department of Physiology of Radboud university medical center on the calcium and magnesium channels involved in rare diseases of the renal tubules (title dissertation: Epithelial Calcium and Magnesium Channels in Health and Disease). He then established a line of research on the molecular pathogenesis of rare glomerular disorders at the Nephrology Research Laboratory. After completing his training as an internist-nephrologist, he became a staff member at the Department of Nephrology and developed the clinical area of expertise in tubular renal disease. His ambition is to provide person-centered care to patients: "In collaboration with my regional, national and international colleagues, I want to offer people with rare kidney diseases the best care. Through our translational research, I want to ultimately improve the treatment and quality of life of our patients."