The renal tract system, which consists of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and the urethra, is one of the most important adaptations to life on land. It plays a major role in the homeostasis of the body fluids. Thus, acquired or inherited defects in its anatomy and physiology have a severe impact on the quality of life.

Renal tract malformations (RTMs) arise from perturbations of the embryonic programs that govern the formation and the assembly of the kidneys and the components of the lower urinary tract.

RTMs occur in 3-6 per 1000 live births and cause 50-60% of end stage kidney disease (ESKD) in children and young adults.

The current therapeutic options, surgery, renal dialysis and organ transplantation are of an enormous socio-economic impact that emphasizing the need to unravel the cellular and molecular mechanisms which guide the formation of this complex organ system from simple tissue rudiments.

To make significant advances in understanding normal development and physiology of the renal tract, to unravel the nature of the disease-causing mechanisms of this organ system, and to establish therapeutic options, the RENALTRACT network aims to structure its research around collaborative studies to:


Identify the genetic, epigenetic and regulatory networks guiding normal development and differentiation of the renal tract, using state-of-the-art non-human model systems.


Conduct high-throughput screening to molecularly dissect and understand the development of the renal tract.


Discover and validate translational biomarkers by developing and studying different animal models.

RENALTRACT acknowledges that to make significant advances, an interdisciplinary approach is required where experts and technologies of the physical sciences (imaging technology), chemistry (medicinal chemistry, metabolomics), biological sciences (developmental, cell biology, organ culture, physiology, genetics, “Omics”), systems biology and clinicians work in concert.

The RENALTRACT research program will target three work packages (WPs):

“Genetic and epigenetic regulation of renal tract development”

“Causes and mechanisms of renal tract malformation”

“Renal tract research using high-efficiency in vivo models”