Dr. Dervla Connaughton

Dr. Dervla Connaughton, Eugen Drewlo Chair in Kidney Research and Innovation, uses next-generation gene sequencing technology to identify defects in the DNA that are causing chronic kidney disease. Once she can better understand the underlying cause of disease in her patients, Dr. Connaughton dares to ask: How can we provide personalized, precision-based medicine for patients with kidney disease?

Dr. Connaughton is an Assistant of Medicine at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry. Prior to joining the School, Dr. Connaughton was a member of the National Living Donor Transplant Program in Ireland. She was inspired to pursue her research when she met families who were hoping to donate a kidney to a patient with kidney disease, but were concerned about genetic predisposition that could put them at risk as well.

About half of Dr. Connaughton’s patients suffering from chronic kidney disease of unknown origin are later determined to have underlying genetic basis to their disease. While cases of genetic kidney diseases were previously thought to be rare, recent research suggests it is far more common.

Dr. Connaughton’s research aims to uncover new genetic defects that could cause kidney disease. As more defects are identified and genetically caused kidney disease is better understood, this evidence will help support innovation in personalized treatments for these patients.

Daring to Ask is a series that profiles Canada Research Chairs and Endowed Research Chairs at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry. These researchers are advancing knowledge in their respective fields, asking and answering questions that challenge that status quo and seeking to improve patient care. It is essential research made possible by generous donors and the investment of funding agencies.