Meet Dr. Christopher Lu
Kidney Disease and Transplant Specialist in Dallas

Christopher Lu, M.D., a kidney disease and transplant specialist at UT Southwestern Medical Center, has more than 30 years of experience in both kidney disease research and treatment. He treats adult patients who are dealing with a variety of kidney problems, including those with acute renal failure and chronic kidney disease, and patients needing kidney transplants or dialysis.

Dr. Lu is proud to be part of one of the nation’s most successful kidney transplant programs, with one-year renal graft survival rates above 94 percent. As in other areas of UT Southwestern, the nephrology department has a robust research program, allowing patients to continually benefit from the latest medical knowledge and techniques.

“Being at UT Southwestern is like being part of a talented orchestra,” he says. “The whole goal here is to be able to get patients what they need. We have a lot of resources, and we work to get the patient to the right place, the right specialist, and the right treatment.”

A Passion for Research

Dr. Lu was drawn to the field of nephrology through his passion for medical research. Today, he spends about half his time in the lab, focusing primarily on developing ways to stop or even reverse the progression of kidney disease.

“Once your kidney is injured, it tends to get worse,” he says. “That's one of our major problems now: Patients who have lost about 30 percent of their renal function from any cause, whether it's diabetes or hypertension, all tend to go on to require dialysis or transplant. We can slow that process, but we can't stop or reverse it. We're trying to figure out why that is, to see if we can do better.”

To help make that goal a reality, UT Southwestern is part of a new National Institutes of Health initiative called the Kidney Precision Medicine Program. This initiative involves a small number of select academic centers, including UT Southwestern. The goal is to use modern techniques, including genetics, to individualize therapy for each patient with renal disease. Dr. Miguel Vazquez is leading this effort at UT Southwestern. Working with physicians like Dr. Lu, the program seeks to promote the early identification of kidney disease in order to provide better treatment for patients.

“This is the initiative I'm most excited about because it's the newest and probably biggest program of its kind,” Dr. Lu says.

Translating Research Into Practical Treatment

The key, Dr. Lu explains, will lie in effectively translating clinical research into practical treatment for real-life patients.

“When it comes to the progression of kidney disease, the good news is that clinical researchers have clearly defined the problem,” he says. “For example, in my lab, I can cure chronic kidney disease in mice. The challenge is to bring that cure to the bedside in a safe way.”

However, thanks to the medical community’s growing focus on the need to slow or reverse the progression of kidney disease, Dr. Lu is confident there will be significant progress in the coming years.

“There are a lot of things that are working well in the lab right now,” he says. “I'm very optimistic about the future of patients with chronic kidney disease. It's going to get better.”