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Using big data to avert kidney disease

Chronic kidney disease often goes undetected until late stages, but is of great significance to individuals’ overall health. Juan Jesus Carrero uses clinical epidemiology to improve the identification and management of those afflicted with the disease.

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Professor Juan Jesus Carrero, credit: Stefan Zimmerman.

What are you researching?

“I am conducting epidemiological research on kidney disease. I use healthcare registers to identify problems related to impaired kidney function, such as risk factors and co morbidity. For example, I examine how lifestyle, obesity, medications, and different diets affect the develop- ment and progression of kidney di- sease. We have shown, among other things, that inappropriate use of several common medications, such as non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs and proton-pump inhibitors, can accelerate the disease. My research group is also looking at kidney fail- ure screening and collaborating with the healthcare sector in the develop- ment of decision-support systems to avoid medication errors.”


Why is this research needed?

“When kidney function is impaired, even mildly, it affects the whole body. It causes toxic waste products to accumulate in the blood, which negatively impacts many organs. Today we know that this disease affects far more people than previously thought; 10-to-15 per cent of the population is estimated to have kidney disease, and the majority of them are not aware of it.
 By utilising the vast amount of data currently being generated within the healthcare sector, I aim to increase awareness and improve decision support in the care of these patients. With earlier detection and better knowledge, we can significantly slow the course of their disease.”


What are you hoping for
in the long term?


“I hope that we can introduce good screening programs for the early detection of chronic kidney disease, and that the healthcare sector will become a lot better at taking information on kidney function into consideration when making medical assessments. The same applies to prescribing medications and providing lifestyle advice to patients.
I also look forward to exploring uncharacterized links between the kidney and other important diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stress, and impaired cognitive ability.”

Text: Anders Nilsson, in translation from Swedish
First published in From Cell to Society 2019

Juan Jesus Carrero

Professor of Epidemiology at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Juan Jesus Carrero was born in 1977 in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain. He studied pharmacy at the University of Granada and has an MBA from the Business School of Andalucia. Juan Jesus Carrero received a doctorate in pharmacy from the University of Granada in 2005.

From 2006 to 2008 he was a postdoctoral researcher at KI’s Department of Clinical Science, Intervention and Technology (CLINTEC), and in 2008 he was awarded a second doctorate in the field of medicine from Karolinska Institutet. Juan Jesus Carrero has conducted research at the Center for Molecular Medicine (CMM) and at CLINTEC, and was appointed Associate Professor of Renal Medicine in 2013. He has conducted research
at MEB since 2017.

Juan Jesus Carrero was appointed Professor of Epidemiology at Karolinska Institutet on 1 March 2019.