Impact story: Research Excellence

medical illustrationExtraordinary gift to fund kidney research

Mr Jimmy Mayer, a leading Colombian manufacturing entrepreneur, made an amazing gift to the University in May 2017: £2.7 million to fund life-saving kidney research of global significance to the College of Life Sciences. This is the second gift Mr Mayer has made to further renal research. In 2014 he gave £500,000 to the Leicester research team to fund an IgA Nephropathy research programme. 

IgA Nephropathy is a condition where an individual’s own antibodies settle in the kidneys and damage them by causing inflammation and scarring. Patients often do not display symptoms. Therefore, most affected people are unaware they have the condition until they have a blood or urine test. The causes are not fully known and, in extreme cases, can cause kidney failure. 

My son was diagnosed with IgA Nephropathy in 2012 and as any father would, I started to research to better understand this condition. I wanted to know what could be done and how I could modestly contribute to these efforts. Through my investigation I became acutely aware of the broader implication of kidney disease in our society. I also came across the great work of the fabulous team at Leicester. I hopped on a train for a visit and have been their number one fan ever since. It is my sincere hope that with these efforts they can make significant progress towards a more complete understanding of IgA Nephropathy, improved treatment options and, perhaps even, a cure.

Mr Jimmy Mayer

The funding is being used to create dedicated research facilities – The Mayer IgA Nephropathy Laboratories – as well as a named Professorship – the Mayer Chair in Renal Medicine. Professor Jonathan Barratt of the Department of Infection Immunity and Inflammation at the University has been named to the chair. He is leading a research group, which, with the support of this vital funding, hopes to fully understand IgA Nephropathy and eventually develop new drugs to treat it. The researchers are working to establish the world’s first international registry of IgA Nephropathy patients.

This gift will transform our approach to the study of this common cause of kidney disease. By better understanding the causes of IgA Nephropathy, we hope it will be possible to develop better clinical tests to diagnose the disease earlier and perhaps to identify new targets for drugs to treat it. Over the past three years I have got to know Jimmy and his son, David, and they have been incredibly supportive of our work here in Leicester. Both have shown a real passion for understanding our work and how we are studying IgA Nephropathy. It is true to say that without their support, we would not have had the degree of scientific success we have experienced over the past three years.

Professor Jonathan Barratt

Please consider making a gift towards our Research Excellence fund.

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