Urology Research & Innovation

Urinary tract infections are common in children and have been linked to many long-term effects, including impacts on kidney growth and development.

Christina Ching, MD, urologist and principal investigator in the Center for Clinical and Translational Research, and Sheryl Justice, PhD, principal investigator in the Center for Microbial Pathogenesis in The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s, are partnering to solve the puzzle of significant and recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs).

“One of our projects is to bring the clinical and research sides of the UTI equation together at the International Conference on UTI,” says Dr. Justice. “Our goal is to facilitate the mentality that we are in this together. At the conference, we focus on learning what is important for both sides, understanding priorities and seeing the common goal.”

In addition to organizing international conferences, Drs. Ching and Justice are working to evaluate how the body’s microbiome changes as children age and how the microbiome changes in response to UTIs and subsequent antibiotic treatment.

In addition to studies of the microbiome development and balance, Dr. Ching is also working with others in the Center for Clinical and Translational Research to understand antimicrobial peptides and their role in reestablishing the urothelium after a UTI. Potentially, manipulating this system could be another alternative to treating UTIs with antibiotics.

“Antibiotics are important tools for the treatment of UTIs, but they are not a panacea,” says Dr. Ching. “Our research focuses on that idea, in search of the best outcomes for these children.”