A $6 million donation will help fund a University kidney research institute that will focus on end-stage renal disease, a health risk associated with diabetes and high blood pressure.

According to 2009 data from the New Mexico Department of Health, 10.6 percent of adults in New Mexico had diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes and about 30 percent of adults in New Mexico had high blood pressure. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about one in three adults in the U.S. has high blood pressure and according to the American Diabetes Association, about 8 percent of adults in the U.S. are diabetic.

The donation was awarded to the Department of Internal Medicine of the UNM Health Sciences Center by a nonprofit dialysis firm, Dialysis Clinic, Inc. The donation will help build the UNM Kidney Research Institute, which will focus on prevention and treatment strategies in end-stage renal disease. The DCI operates 11 dialysis clinics in New Mexico.

According to the End Stage Renal Disease Network, more than 2,700 New Mexicans with end stage renal disease were living on dialysis in 2010. Dialysis artificially removes waste from the blood, when the kidneys cannot. According to the network, about 403,000 people with end-stage renal disease are living on dialysis in the U.S.

Health Science Center Department of Internal Medicine chair Pope Moseley that the institute will allow researchers to better understand how to treat or prevent end-stage renal disease for New Mexicans. He said the New Mexico population is unique in terms of health risks associated with diet or genetics, and that the institute will allow for research that specializes in helping New Mexicans.

According to the New Mexico Department of Health, Hispanics, African Americans and Native Americans are at a higher risk for kidney failure due to a genetic risk for diabetes, which is one of the leading causes of chronic kidney disease. About 70 percent of chronic kidney disease is driven by diabetes or high blood pressure according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.

“The hope is that we can find strategies that are focused on New Mexico’s unique populations to prevent the onset of kidney disease. We know that strategies that work in Boston don’t necessarily work in New Mexico,” Moseley said. “What we’re trying to do is develop a program that can really focus on the detection and prevention of kidney disease to avoid some of the long-term complications.”

Moseley said that focusing on end-stage renal disease is appropriate for New Mexico and that within the next month, UNM will launch a nationwide search for a prominent researcher in kidney disease to direct the institute.