UW-Madison awarded $6 million in renewed support for center of research excellence in urology

The University of Wisconsin–Madison has been awarded a $6 million renewal grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in support for a research center devoted to urological health. The center is one of only three nationwide, other sites include Columbia University in NY and the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania.

The George M. O’Brien Center at UW–Madison is a multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional center that includes researcher as UT-Southwestern and the University of Massachusetts-Boston.  The George M. O’Brien Centers are National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney (NIDDK) Flagship research centers funded via the U54 mechanism.  The overall research objective is to identify cellular and molecular mediators in the development of lower urinary tract dysfunction (LUTD) and prostate-related lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS).

Center goals include advancing the scientific understanding and medical management of prostatic fibrosis, a condition which increases prostatic stiffening and impairs urination, ultimately leading to LUTS.  Additionally, the center’s scientists are studying associations between LUTS and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a noncancerous disease that leads to prostate enlargement and often causes bladder outlet obstruction (BOO)1.

  • The occurrence of BPH and LUTS increases by about 10% per decade of life, starting at the age of 402
  • Approximately half of all men between the ages of 51 and 60 are affected by BPH
  • Nearly 90% of all men will develop BPH by the age of 80
  • The number of men in the US affected by LUTS will reach approximately  11 million by the year 20303 and an estimated 210,000 men suffer from this disease world-wide
  • The economic costs of treating LUTS is over $4 billion each year4

The George M. O’Brien Center at UW-Madison is leading the way for BPH/LUTS research in the US and world-wide, serving as a valuable resource center and public dissemination of information relating to these diseases.  Furthermore, the center is a premiere site for training the next generation of researcher and physician researchers.

Dr. William A. Ricke,

Director, UW O’Brien Center

Director of Research

The UWMF Professor of Urologic Research

Professor, University of Wisconsin, SMPH

Department of Urology



Dr. Chad M. Vezina

Associate Director, UW O’Brien Center

Associate Professor

Comparative Biosciences

University of Wisconsin

School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM)


In addition to Dr. Ricke and Dr. Vezina, other researchers involved in the Center include Department of Urology affiliate members: Dr. Paul Marker, Professor, Associate Dean for Research, and Vice Chair of Pharmaceutical Sciences in the Madison School of Pharmacy; Dr. Dale Bjorling, Associate Dean for Research and Professor in Surgical Sciences at UW–Madison SVM; Additionally, Dr. Douglas Strand at UT-Southwestern Medical Center, and Dr. Jill Macoska of the University of Massachusetts-Boston College of Science and Mathematics both colead projects within the center.

Tags: health & medicineinstitutional awardsSchool of Medicine and Public Health

1. Wynder JL, Nicholson TM, DeFranco DB, Ricke WA (2015). Estrogens and Male Lower Urinary Tract Dysfunction. Curr Urol Rep. 2015 Sep; 16(9): 61. DOI: 10.1007/s11934-015-0534-6.
2. Platz EA, Joshu CE, Mondul AM, Peskoe SB, Willett WC, Giovannucci E (2012). Incidence and Progression of Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms in a Large Prospective Cohort of United States Men. J. Urol., 2012 Aug;188(2):496-501. DOI: 10.1016/j.juro.2012.03.125. Epub 2012 Jun 15.
3. CDC, 2013. The State of Aging and Health in America.
4. Saigal CS, Joyce G (2005). Economic Cost of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia in the Private Sector. J.Urol. 2005 Apr;173(4): 1309-13.

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