Alumnus Shuvo Roy Leads The Kidney Project

December 19, 2012

Bioengineer Dr. Shuvo Roy ‘92 spends his days trying to improve the quality of life for kidney failure patients.

Roy, associate professor in the Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences at University of California, San Francisco, serves as Director of The Kidney Project, an effort to create the first implantable artificial kidney for patients with kidney failure.

According to, kidney failure takes a terrible toll on the world, both economically and in human suffering. Nearly two million people worldwide are affected by end stage renal disease. When available, dialysis can be life sustaining, but the short-term solution is time consuming, expensive and does not replace all functions of a healthy kidney. A kidney transplant is currently the best treatment option, but it is limited by a shortage of donor organs and a lifetime regimen of immunosuppressant drugs. Roy is coordinating researchers at nine institutions nationwide to create an implantable device that mimics the filtration functions of a kidney as well as its ability to maintain water and salt balances, produce Vitamin D and regulate blood pressure and pH.

The bio-compatible device will attach to the circulatory system and remove toxins to the bladder as waste. The device will allow patients to live untethered from dialysis machines and eat and drink more normally.

Roy started his academic journey at Mount Union, majoring in physics, mathematics and computer science. He earned a Master of Science degree in electrical engineering and applied physics and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in electrical engineering and computer science from Case Western Reserve University.

According to Roy, who grew up in Uganda, attending Mount Union as an undergraduate was the best choice he made. When he originally came to Mount Union in 1988, he planned to transfer to an engineering school after two years.

“I was having such a great time that I decided to spend more of it at Mount Union,” he said during a recent campus visit.

One of the most valuable things Roy learned at Mount Union was how to speak and articulate his thoughts in speech class.

“It forced me to think about how you present ideas,” he said. “More broadly, I believe that the liberal arts foundation prepared me well to take on the interdisciplinary work that I have been involved in since Mount Union.”

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