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Center Staff Join Study on Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown Origin

Meredith Spivak headshot
Meredith Spivak

Meredith Spivak, epidemiologist at the Center for Excellence and Environmental Health, has taken an important role in a new study investigating risk factors for an illness called “Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown Origin,” or CKDu. This illness has been on the rise in agricultural communities in Central and South America, Egypt, India, and Sri Lanka, primarily affecting men in their 30s and 40s who work in agricultural. These individuals typically lack traditional risk factors for such illness, such as obesity or diabetes, suggesting that the underlying causes of this disease may be different. Current hypotheses suggest that the risks are likely multifactorial, and potential causes include pesticide exposure, excessive intake of fructose, and dehydration in the presence of demanding physical labor in hot environments.

The Regional Alliance of INBRE (IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence) Networks has funded a collaborative study between Dr. Cynthia Curl, Associate Professor in the Department of Community and Environmental Health at Boise State University, Dr. Sally Moyce at Montana State University, and Dr. Evan Johnson at the University of Wyoming. This research aims to investigate the relationship between these potential risk factors and kidney function in a large, nationally representative sample of Americans called the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

In her role with this project. Ms. Spivak will be supporting the research team in NHANES variable selection and analysis, particularly for associations of urinary dialkyl phosphate metabolites of organophosphate insecticides and reduced estimated glomerular filtration rates. This work will contribute to our understanding of the potential relationship between possible risk factors and reduced kidney function.