CKR Laboratory Research Program

Renal transplantation is a life-saving procedure for increasing numbers of children with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD).

Immune responses play a major role in some of these kidney diseases, as well as tolerance of kidney transplants. Our research is determining the role of regulatory T cells (Tregs) in autoimmune renal disease and transplantation rejection, so that we can find better ways to treat and manage these significant health problems.

We investigate innovative technologies such as gene therapy and DNA vaccination for treatment of CKD, and are attempting to define novel Tregs which more powerfully protect against rejection.

As a research group informed by clinical outcomes we see in the clinic, we also continue to define the incidence of CKD in Australia and New Zealand. We have reported the outcomes for women with kidney transplants having children: a real success story of the last 30 years.

Please visit our website to explore our recent publications.

Current projects

Our current laboratory research projects include:

  • Identification of a subset of T cells that prevents autoimmune renal disease (membranous glomerulonephritis)
  • Development of a vaccine that protects against membranous glomerulonephritis
  • Expansion of regulatory T cells to prevent autoimmune renal disease
  • Finding novel regulatory T cells in tolerant kidney transplants
  • Identification of gene mutations in children with kidney tumours
  • Description of the prevalence of kidney disease in Australia and New Zealand
  • Testing of children for nephrotic syndrome using new techniques.

The research team


Professor Stephen Alexander, CKR Laboratory Research Group Leader

Stephen is a clinician-scientist and has headed the CKR Laboratory Research Program for more than 10 years. He has a longstanding interest in the role of regulatory T cells (Tregs) and tolerance in kidney transplantation, and his research program includes human studies and mouse models of transplant rejection and glomerulonephritis. For more information please visit Stephen's University of Sydney profile page.


Dr Yuan Wang, Research Scientist and Associate Lecturer, email:
Yuan trained as a medical doctor and has made a number of important contributions in the area of Tregs and DNA vaccination, including the first use of gene therapy to treat renal disease. See Yuan's University of Sydney profile page for more information on her research.


Dr Hugh McCarthy, Senior staff specialist

Hugh is a paediatric nephrologist and clinician researcher in the field of rare kidney disease. He runs the NSW paediatric renal genetic clinical service. His research focuses include the development of rare disease patient registries with centralised information portals for patients/families; the genomic determinants of renal disease and the proteomics of podocytopathies. For more information please visit Hugh’s University of Sydney profile page.



> Other Research Team Members

  • Dr Geoff Zhang, Senior scientist, email:
  • Dr Min Hu, Postdoctoral scientist, The Westmead Institute for Medical Research
  • Jevin Karunia, Research Assistant
  • Mahnoor Bakhtiar, Research Assistant
  • Sam Robinson, Honours Student
  • Victor Shen, Honours Student