[Press and Public Relations] Professor Appointed to Unique New Post


                                                                                                                                                       January 2002

No 17

[jpg image of Professor Furness below]

One of the UK’s leading experts in kidney disease, based at the University of Leicester, has been appointed as Professor of Renal Pathology, a post which may be unique throughout the world.

When Professor Peter Furness accepted the Chair in Renal Pathology at Leicester he knew it was the first in the UK, but he has since received a note of congratulation from Head of Pathology at Harvard who believes the new development at Leicester to be the first of its kind in the world.

Professor Furness said:  “There have been professors of pathology with an interest in kidney disease before, of course, but this post is novel because it was set up specifically and exclusively to further research into kidney disease. It has been established to support and expand Leicester's position as a centre of excellence in the study of kidney disease.  

“For some time, if anyone wanted advice on renal pathology at a national level they usually came to me, and this Chair is an acknowledgement and support of the expertise we have at Leicester.”

A science graduate of Fitzwilliam College, University of Cambridge, Peter Furness then gained his medical degree at Wolfson College, University of Oxford and subsequently received a PhD from the University of Nottingham. He has been a Senior Lecturer in Pathology at Leicester since 1990.

He has achieved an international reputation for his work in diagnostic renal pathology, especially kidney transplant pathology. Following his success in establishing the UK National Renal Pathology External Quality Assessment Scheme he designed and ran a study testing the recently developed Banff Classification of transplant pathology. This involved the recruitment of transplant pathologists from every UK renal transplant centre except one, and remains the only study of its kind.  He then extended this study, running an EU-funded project with leading renal transplant pathologists throughout Europe.  This study tested the quality and reproducibility of renal transplant biopsy assessment, highlighting unexpectedly severe limitations in methods which are universally used to support kidney transplant patients.

His ongoing efforts to resolve these problems include the development of a neural network-based system for the diagnosis of acute kidney transplant rejection which when tested produced a correct diagnosis more often than most pathologists.

In the laboratory Professor Furness was principal investigator on two MRC grants in the field of molecular pathology, and has also carried out research into gene expression in human renal biopsies and in inflammatory bowel disease.

In his NHS work at the Leicester General Hospital he has one of the heaviest renal biopsy caseloads in the country. Last year alone he was responsible for the evaluation of more than kidney 600 kidney biopsies, of which 250 were from transplants.

Professor Furness commented: “Most of my work is related to the evaluation of kidney transplants and preventing their failure. I report biopsies in the NHS for individual patients, but my university research is intended to help all patients with kidney disease.  One direction we are hoping to move into is using stem cells to treat kidney diseases and prevent the loss of grafts.”   He went on to emphasise that they were proposing to test adult stem cells as an alternative to embryonic stem cells, as the production of embryonic cells is difficult and is currently producing considerable controversy.

Note to editors:   Professor Furness’s full CV is available from the University of Leicester Press Office. Further information can be obtained from Professor Peter Furness, telephone 0116 258 4582, facsimile 0116 258 4573, email pnf1@le.ac.uk


Professor Peter Furness



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Last updated: 25 January 2002 16:09
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