Newswise — BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – A nephrologist who created a solution to help critically ill patients in the intensive care unit safely receive dialysis will help fund future inventions and products to help people living with kidney disease.

Ashita Tolwani, M.D., a nephrologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and an internationally known expert on continuous renal-replacement therapy, has established the Tolwani Innovation Fund in Nephrology. The fund will support investigators and researchers as they create products and solutions to help kidney-related therapies.

Tolwani established the fund using royalties from an anticoagulant solution she developed at UAB in 2004. After patenting the solution in 2011, an international pharmaceutical company bought the product and continues to distribute it around the world. 

The solution helps patients who cannot tolerate regular dialysis and have to use CRRT instead.

“CRRT is a complicated therapy because it runs 24 hours a day, continuously removing fluids, solutes and toxins the kidneys build up,” Tolwani said. “While it is far gentler than regular dialysis, it requires special anticoagulants to keep the dialysis circuit from clotting.”

To make this process safer for patients, Tolwani worked with UAB pharmacists to create the anticoagulant solution, which is now used in Canada, India, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand and throughout Europe.  

“The anticoagulated formulation improves the ability for us to deliver CRRT effectively and safely, without having the issues of clotting,” Tolwani explained.

“Dr. Tolwani's invention has allowed us to perform continuous renal replacement therapy in critically ill patients in a much safer way,” said Anupam Agarwal, M.D., the director of the Division of Nephrology. “She has set an example to enable others to take their ideas further towards a patent and making that idea/invention to be implemented for the benefit of both patients and healthcare providers.”

Tolwani wanted to establish the fund to give back to UAB where she was encouraged and supported to find new solution to kidney-related problems.

“The ability to be innovative at UAB is unprecedented and it is something that does not occur everywhere else,” Tolwani said. “There is also an amazing feeling of collaboration here as well. Everything that I have done here has been a group effort. At UAB if there is an innovative idea you wish to pursue, there is a way to get it done. I am grateful that through this fund, I will be able to provide the support to our innovators so that they will be able to create new innovations that will help others.”

“We hope that this innovation fund would bring new prevention and treatment options, as well as potential new diagnostic modalities for patients with kidney disease and health care providers,” Agarwal said.

Bill L. Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which fosters an entrepreneurial community and innovative ecosystem at UAB, has agreed to contribute to the fund. The UAB Department of Medicine has also contributed.

“The Tolwani Innovation Fund is working to empower innovative research that can impact society,” said Kathy Nugent, Ph.D., executive director of the Bill L. Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which also provides the institutional infrastructure required for students, staff and faculty to commercialize their campus innovations. “Supporting this initiative demonstrates our goal to facilitate an institutional culture of collaboration innovation.”

About UAB

Known for its innovative and interdisciplinary approach to education at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, the University of Alabama at Birmingham is an internationally renowned research university and academic medical center, as well as Alabama’s largest employer, with some 23,000 employees, and has an annual economic impact exceeding $7 billion on the state. The pillars of UAB’s mission include education, research, innovation and economic development, community engagement and patient care. Learn more at www.uab.eduUAB: Powered by will.