Children's Hospital Colorado

Urology Research at the Department of Pediatric Urology

Researchers in our Department of Pediatric Urology work to improve the treatment and care for children with urologic conditions. Our team’s expertise in basic, translational, clinical outcomes and quality improvement research are aimed at understanding urologic conditions present at birth and how best to treat them. Research drives our mission to minimize interventions and maximize outcomes for our young patients.

It all starts with a Q:

For the latest cutting-edge research and innovative collaborations in pediatric urology, read more in Q: Advances and Answers in Pediatric Health.

Discover more in Q:

Department of Pediatric Urology research advancements

Some of our research areas include bladder development, urologic oncology, prenatal imaging and congenital hydronephrosis. Our research focuses on identifying and implementing new and better treatment practices — more effective, less invasive — with the goal of making life easier for kids, adolescents and even adults with urological conditions, here and around the nation.

Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS)

Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) is a clinical pathway to minimize patient metabolic stress while undergoing surgery, minimize pain, speed up recovery and avoid complications. Kyle Rove, MD, and his team helped to implement ERAS protocols at Children’s Colorado first in 2014 in lower urinary tract reconstructive surgeries. In 2018, we expanded learnings from this initial effort to pediatric colorectal surgeries, pediatric plastics operations, pediatric bariatric surgery and other pediatric urological surgeries. We continue to develop and define new protocols by working with multidisciplinary teams that include surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, clinical psychologists, trainees, students, research personnel, patients and their families, and others. ​​

As part of the effort to expand the reach of ERAS, we created a research registry (COMIRB 19-0964) to prospectively enroll any patient having surgery under an ERAS protocol at Children’s Colorado. This registry allows us to collect information related to the pre-, intra- and post-operative phases of care. All data comes from inside the medical record stored as part of standards of care. ​

Pediatric Urologists Researching Surgical Outcomes Using Health Information Technology (PURSUIT) Network

Working with hospitals across the country, Vijaya Vemulakonda, MD, and her team are gathering data on infants and children with congenital anomalies of the kidney and urinary tract (CAKUT) and other uncommon pediatric urological diagnoses. We use standardized electronic health record-based data collection tools. Our hope is to use this data to identify variations in current urologic practice and associated differences in surgical and renal outcomes. Collaborating with multiple medical centers will support pragmatic clinical outcomes and comparative effectiveness to define best practices for management of patients with CAKUT and other rare pediatric urologic conditions.

Pediatric Urology Research Enterprise (PURE)

The Department of Pediatric Urology's research arm, PURE, is a research group housed within the Division of Urology at the University of Colorado’s School of Medicine. The group, consisting of doctors and researchers from Children’s Hospital Colorado and the School of Medicine is led by PURE Director Vijaya Vemulakonda, MD. PURE aims to advance pediatric urology by:

  • Leading and supporting pediatric urology clinical and translational research
  • Tracking pediatric urology research accomplishments 
  • Training emerging clinical investigators
  • Disseminating research findings into clinical practice
  • Continuously improving the effectiveness of our research enterprise

PURE programs

Clinical Investigator Training Program

PURE offers fellows, medical students and residents the opportunity to gain clinical and translational research experience. PURE works closely with the University of Colorado's Pediatric Urology Fellowship Program to support the 2nd year of the program, which focuses on research. We have our own Medical Student Fellowship and we participate in the School of Medicine’s Research Track Program. We match more than 10 trainees a year with an experienced faculty research mentor and support their involvement in one or more research projects.

Learn more about the Pediatric and Reconstructive Urology Medical Student Research Fellowship and the Fellowship in Pediatric Urology​

Research Project Support Program

​PURE facilitates the development and execution of clinical research projects aimed to improve the quality and effectiveness of pediatric urology care. Our group offers consultations with experienced investigators who provide guidance to help ensure the scientific integrity of the research plan, assist with navigating the many Anschutz Medical Campus research resources and the provision of dedicated support (bioinformatics, data management, regulatory and project management) to plan out and execute research activities.  

A comprehensive research team

Everyone in the Department of Pediatric Urology plays an important role in supporting the health of our urology patients, including advanced practice providers, medical assistants, nurses and physicians. PURE invites all interested Pediatric Urology team members to contribute to our research efforts, whether it’s suggesting a topic for research, being part of the research team or leading a research team.

For example, our lead investigators in some studies are advanced practice providers, including research into nocturnal enuresis and scrotal pain during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our collaboration with the University of Colorado’s School of Medicine means that we can explore an array of research areas depending on what we believe might be the most helpful to progressing our urology programs.

Urology professional education videos

In these short videos, our pediatric urology experts offer insights into the advanced treatments and specialized clinical care they provide at our hospital.

What our research means for kids

Many of our research studies have a positive, long-lasting impact on children with urologic conditions:

Pediatric urologic surgeon Vijaya Vemulakonda, MD, worked with researchers at Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego and Texas Children's Hospital to study treatments for infants diagnosed with hydronephrosis before birth. The research looked at how those variations in treatment impacted kidney function in children with kidney obstruction. The research helped develop guidelines for surgical testing and treatment to improve the long-term outcomes of these patients.

Pediatric urologic oncologist Nicholas Cost, MD, is investigating the impact that urologic cancers (kidney, adrenal, bladder, testicular) have on kids and how treatments can maximize cure, but minimize side effects. He works with the Children's Oncology Group to offer the latest treatments and collaborate on research. In addition, our Pediatric Urologic Oncology Program has its own ongoing local investigation in the lab and the clinic that is studying the impact of chemotherapy on bladder function in children.

In collaboration with the Department of Pediatric Radiology and the Society for Fetal Urology, pediatric urological surgeon Jeffrey Campbell, MD, worked to refine prenatal imaging tests to identify urinary and genital organ irregularities at and before birth. 

In collaboration with Anna Malykhina, MD, and Nao Iguchi, MD, at the University of Colorado,  Duncan Wilcox, MD, studied the effect of partial bladder outlet obstruction to assess signs of the obstruction. By studying hypoxia pathways, they have opened the door to new types of treatment. In addition, they studied the interaction between bladder and bowel nerve function and its possible effect on children with dysfunctional elimination syndrome.

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