Quarles Receives $1.8 Million Grant to Continue Bone Research

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Darryl Quarles, Chair of Nephrology, Receives $1.8 Million Grant to Continue Bone Research

Bones serve a greater purpose in the body than providing structural support. Darryl Quarles, MD, at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) has learned that bones communicate with the kidneys, something he began studying some 14 years ago. It is a research project the National Institute of Health (NIH) has funded continuously since that time. Recently, the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, a division of NIH, renewed the grant, providing 1.8 million to Dr. QuarlesQuarles, division chief of Nephrology at UTHSC College of Medicine, to continue investigating a field of study he pioneered.

“We discovered that the bone is not an endocrine organ,” he said. “It’s a paradigm shifting view.” Overall, his research is establishing a new conceptual framework that indicates bones send messages to organs in the body to regulate phosphate and Vitamin D.

Dr. Quarles discovered that bones secrete a hormone, called FGF23, which activates a process in the kidneys to help maintain a balance of calcium — absorption of which is stimulated by Vitamin D — and phosphate. An irregular proportion of calcium and phosphate can lead to kidney disease, he explained.

The NIH grant will be administered during a 5-year period in increments of $365,000.

The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases was established in 1986. Its mission is to support research into the cause, treatment and prevention of arthritis and musculoskeletal skin diseases.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.