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Every few years the folks at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) ask investigators and other interested parties to help define research priorities. These conversations help drive the agenda for extramural funding.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) is hosting an online dialogue instead of a face-to-face meeting. This virtual event, the Kidney Research National Dialogue (KRND), begins the institute's preparation of  a Blueprint for Kidney Research.

The first phase of KRND runs through March 2011. Participants submit research questions for discussion and voting. Who can participate?

The Division of Kidney, Urologic and Hematologic Diseases (KUH) of the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) is coordinating this effort in collaboration  professional societies, including the American Society of Nephrology (ASN), American Society of Pediatric Nephrology (ASPN), National Kidney Foundation (NKF), Renal Physicians Association (RPA), and the Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) Foundation.  All interested researchers, clinicians and patients are welcome to join the dialogue

Interested parties can request an invitation at or register via the KRND site.

NIDDK wants to identify compelling research questions. How compelling? If answered, the investigator could receive an all-expenses paid trip to Stockholm to pick up a little prize. Yes, that level of compelling. Questions are assigned to broad categories, and the authors tag them with other key words. Participants can comment on any question, making this process into a blog-like asynchronous dialogue (although no PhysioProfisms so far).

The level of conversation becomes important as people vote for their favorites. Each participant receives 20 chips (as in poker, not Doritos) that can be distributed among the questions posed. Chips can be distributed as the participant sees fit. Really like one idea? You can put all 20 there. You can put one on each of 20 different questions, or distribute them anyway in between. Votes help determine which ideas or questions proceed into Phase II.

KRND Landing Page

After Phase I, the voting and discussion should lead to a limited number of broad research areas. Phase II, anticipated for March-April 2011, will focus the discussion on these compelling questions, particularly the strategies to address them. Critical preliminary groundwork will also be identified. Preparation of the Blueprint document in May-June 2011 is Phase III of the process.

First, I want to congratulate Krystyna Rys-Sikora and Robert Star at NIDDK for developing this format. Given the capabilities of the interactive web, this sort of site should work well for this kind of conversation. That said, some in the Nephrology/Urology community have not embraced online interactivity. As of this post, only 1208 users have registered with the site.

If you are reading this post and have any interest in the research NIDDK will fund in the future, your voice should be heard! Click the links and get involved with KRND; if you don't, you have only yourself to blame when NIH ignores your area of interest.

Still need more info? Click for the official KRND Fact Page.

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