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Professor Richard Coward

Professor Richard Coward

Professor Richard Coward
MB,ChB, PhD(Bristol), MRCP

Professor of Renal Medicine

Area of research

Molecular basis of glomerular and lower urinary tract diseases

Dorothy Hodgkin Building,
Whitson Street, Bristol BS1 3NY
(See a map)

+44 (0) 117 331 3117


Our research interests are in two areas; glomerular biology and the molecular biology underpinning lower urinary tract issues such as kidney stones and congenital urinary tract obstruction. Our work is based on conditionally immortalised cells derived from different parts of the kidney (both glomeruli and tubular cells) from man and mouse. Additionally, we have recently developed a number of transgenic murine models to further our knowledge of the importance of signalling pathways in these areas of the kidney. In the glomerulus we are focusing on the role of insulin and insulin-like growth factor signaling to the podocyte as we think this is potentially extremely important in understanding how kidney disease develops in diabetes mellitus (the leading cause of kidney failure in the world) and chronic kidney disease linked to glomerular dysfunction. Our stone studies are currently examing the molecular biology of cystinuria and the mechanisms through which cystine is absorbed from the urine in the proximal tubule. We are also examining the molecular basis of congenital pelvi-ureteric obstruction in children.

Ultimately we hope our work will lead to the development of novel therapies to help prevent kidney disease in susceptable patients.


Richard did his undergraduate training at Bristol University and then specialised in Paediatrics gaining his MRCP in child health. His clinical training was undertaken in the South West of England, Great Ormond Street, London and the Starship hospital in Auckland, New Zealand. It was during this time that he decided to specialise in Paediatric Nephrology. In 2001 he was awarded a PhD fellowship funded by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Wellchild to study the molecular biology of the podocyte. After this he was appointed as a consultant in Paediatric Nephrology at the Royal Hospital for Children in Bristol. 

In 2006 he was awarded an MRC Clinican Scientist fellowship enabling him to work in the world leading glomerular laboratory in Toronto, Canada with Professor Susan Quaggin to extend his studies.

In 2013 he secured a prestigious MRC Senior Clinical Fellowship to develop his laboratory and research interests further, whilst continuing to have a clinical commitment in Paediatric Nephrology. In 2011 Richard was promoted to Reader and then in 2014 to Professor of Renal Medicine.

From 2011-2014 Richard was the head of research for the School of Clinical Sciences and co-lead for developing and delivering undergraduate paediatric teaching in the University. He has been the chair of the national clinical study group for paediatric nephrology and the lead for research for the British Association of Paediatric Nephrology (2012-2016). Richard is an active member of several scientific grant committees including the MRC Populations Systems Medicine board, Kidney Research UK board, MRC Stratified Medicine board,  MRC College Newton fund and MRC Genome Editing Mice for Medicine (GEMM) panel.  He reviews for multiple scientific journals and is the Associate Editor for Nephron Experimental Nephrology. In 2017 Richard is part of the scientific organising committee for the American Society of Nephrology and is the Chair of the scientific committee for the 50th Anniversary meeting of the European Society of Paediatric Nephrology.

His other interests include being with his family and sport of all types!


Richard teaches renal physiology, clinical and research lectures to the 2nd and 4th year medical students.

Additionally he has a long-standing commitment to teaching paediatric nephrology in Africa and has been to Uganda, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to deliver lecture series, seminars and bed side teaching here.


  • podocyte
  • proximal tubular cell
  • diabetes
  • cystinuria


I am currently an MRC Clinician Scientist and Honorary Consultant Paediatric Nephrologist in Bristol Royal Hospital for Sick Children. My undergraduate medical training was performed at Bristol University and paediatric training occurred in the South West of England, in Auckland, New Zealand and in Great Ormond Street, London. In 2001 I was awarded a fellowship by the Royal College of Paediatrics and the charity Wellchild, which led to a PhD being awarded in 2005 studying the molecular biology of the human podocyte and the effects of insulin on the glomerular filtration barrier of the kidney. I am currently investigating the effects of insulin on the signalling pathways in glomerular cells and how insulin remodels their actin cytoskeleton.

  • nephrology
  • paediatrics
  • children
  • molecular biology
  • human podocyte
  • Insulin
  • kidneys
  • Memberships


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