THE GEOLOGY OF KIDNEY STONES HITS THE MEDICAL AIRWAVES

Posted on 01.15.2019

Professor Bruce Fouke was featured last weekend on NPR’s ‘The People’s Pharmacy’ talking about his group’s research on the deposits of kidney stones. This interview follows hot on the heels of publications in Scientific Reports and Earth magazine detailing aspects of the groups work, and involving (pictured here) Illinois/Mayo Clinic PhD student Jessica Saw and Dr Mayandi Sivaguru (Associate Director of the IGB Microscopy Core and lead author on the Scientific Reports paper). Their research on kidney stones highlights these stones, which affect the lives of millions of people each year, are composed of ultrahigh-frequency crystalline stratigraphic sequences made of calcium oxalate (CaOx). These kidney stones resemble natural calcium carbonate (CaCO3) mineral deposits in coral reefs, hot springs and subsurface oil fields. Importantly for human health, Fouke’s group found that up to 75% of the bulk mass of kidney stones dissolve and recrystallize over and over again during their history of formation. This contradicts the widely held notion that kidney stones are homogenous crystalline deposits with little or no use for medical treatment, providing a minute-by-minute record of kidney health and physiological function.

Fouke Group

Tune in for a great show, as commented on by one listener from Virginia: ‘Fascinating show: your last interview, with Dr. Fouke, was by far the most interesting segment, and I wish you would consider bringing him back for a full show. The very fact that he found similarities between the microbiome involved in both kidney stones and dental plaque suggests that this is a new cutting edge arena for study and discussion. Thank you for giving us so much to think about! I am going to buy Dr. Fouke’s book: I love it when disparate fields of science (geology, biology, medicine) collaborate to become more than the sum of their parts! His segment of your show gets five stars!’

The beauty of a CaOx kidney stone

The beauty of a CaOx kidney stone


This episode (#1448) of ‘The People’s Pharmacy’ can be found here. If you haven’t got time to listen to the entire program, Bruce’s interview starts at 39 minutes 34 seconds.