Professor Charles Ferro BSc(Hons) MD FRCP FERA

Charles Ferro

Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences
Consultant Nephrologist: University Hospitals Birmingham
Honorary Professor of Renal Medicine: University of Birmingham
Honorary Lecturer: University College London

Contact details

University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Charles remains a full-time NHS Consultant Nephrologist. He works across the full range of nephrology – chronic kidney disease, inflammatory renal disease, low clearance, haemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis and kidney transplantation

His current research programme is funded through over £6 million worth of grants and centres on four main and distinct streams:

Cardiovascular disease associated with chronic kidney disease

He is Chief Investigator or Senior Co-Investigator on the Birmingham Cardio-Renal Group portfolio of studies funded mainly by the British Heart Foundation, KRUK and NIHR.

Chronic kidney disease complications and progression

He has set up the Renal Impairment in Secondary Care Study (RIISC) exploring why patients with high-risk chronic kidney disease have poor clinical outcomes.

Large population cohorts

Over the last few years he has worked with the several local, national and international datasets.

Medical informatics

In 2014 he set up, funded and chaired the Birmingham Renal Informatics Group to coordinate the use of data-rich patient electronic health records.


  • Distinguished Fellow of the European Renal Association, 2016
  • Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, 2005
  • MD in Clinical Pharmacology University of Edinburgh, 1998
  • Member of the Royal College of Physicians, 1994
  • MBChB University of Edinburgh, 1991
  • BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry University of Edinburgh, 1988


Professor Ferro graduated from the University of Edinburgh and trained in renal medicine in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Truro and Bristol. He has been a consultant nephrologist at the University Hospitals Birmingham with senior academic positions at the University of Birmingham since 2002. His clinical and research interests have developed to include the aetiology and treatment of cardiovascular disease in patients with chronic kidney disease. Currently Professor Ferro is the Principal Investigator for several international and national clinical studies funded mainly by grants from the National Institute for Health Research, the British Heart Foundation and Kidney Research UK. In 2015 Professor Ferro was elected by his peers to serve as a Board Member on the European Renal and Cardiovascular Medicine Working Group of the European Renal Association. He has been vice-chair since 2018.


Professor Ferro maintains a keen interest in teaching and is involved in University teaching programmes as well as organising continuing medical education (CME) programmes with the European Renal Association, the Royal College of Physicians and the International Society of Nephrology.

Postgraduate supervision

Professor Ferro has supervised 2 MSc Students and 7 PhD candidates to completion. He currently supervises 4 PhD candidates, 1 MD candidate and 1 MPharm candidate.


Since arriving in Birmingham in 2002 Professor Charles Ferro's research interests have continued to expand and now centre on the following key fields.

Cardio-Renal Medicine

Together with his close collaborator, Professor Johnathan Townend, Professor Ferro has continued his research in cardio-renal medicine. Together they obtained their first grant from the British Heart Foundation in 2004 funding a randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial into the cardiovascular effects of spironolactone in patients with chronic kidney disease. This grant also allowed them to explore the use of cardiac magnetic resonance to closely explore the structural and functional cardiovascular changes that happen early in the course of chronic kidney disease.

In the last few years, in close collaboration with Dr Davor Pavlovic, he has been able to take his research back into the laboratory to investigate the pathophysiological mechanisms behind the cardiovascular disease associated with chronic kidney disease. This has opened up very exciting avenues for future research opportunities as well as drug development.

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

Together with his close colleague Professor Paul Cockwell, Professor Ferro has set up the Renal Impairment in Secondary Care Study (RIISC) funded by a grant from The JABBS Foundation. The primary aim of the study was to produce an infrastructure to explore why patients with high-risk chronic kidney disease have poor clinical outcomes. They have established a study that allows accurate bio-clinical phenotyping of a tightly defined group. The first patient was recruited in October 2010 and the last in December 2015. Follow-up will continue for 10 years through to December 2025.

Large Population Cohorts

Professor Ferro's interest in using large population cohorts started in 2008 with a grant award from Kidney Research UK in collaboration with the London School of Topical Medicine and Hygiene. Since then he has collaborated with academics supervising several large cohorts including:

  • the MRC 1946 study
  • Chilean National Health Surveys 2003-04 and 2009-10
  • the National Institute of Cardiovascular Outcomes Research
  • the Lothian Birth Cohort.

Medical informatics / Simplifying clinical trials

Since Professor Ferro's arrival at University Hospitals Birmingham Foundation Trust he has been involved in evolving the patient electronic health records and has been developing its capacity for research. This resource has been rapidly expanding and in 2014 he set up the Birmingham Renal Informatics Group (BRIG) to manage the expanding capability and coordinate the funding streams.

Providing Renal Research Infrastructure within Birmingham Health Partners

•  He has been the co-lead for the development of clinical renal research in University Hospital Birmingham such that it is now the largest single renal service recruiting into clinical trials in the NHS

• The service recruits around 25% of all patients recruited at UHB into clinical trials. The team has 20 people (many full time) currently focused on clinical research. It works on >30 clinical trials and supports recruitment for major nationally funded clinical trials, working to support research active colleagues in other major centres.

• This infrastructure has supported NHS consultant nephrologists and transplant surgeons in Birmingham to develop major academic profiles. He has developed an academic clinical model that focuses on providing research opportunities and development opportunities for trainees

• The broader impact is a continuing contribution to the evidence base in many areas of practice, including CKD, transplantation, auto-immune mediated kidney diseases, vascular access. It is consistent with the aims of clinical research in the UK renal community.

Research Groups and Centres

Birmingham Cardio-Renal Research Group

European Renal and Cardiovascular medicine (EURECA-m) Working Group of the European Renal Association

Other activities

  • Vice-Chair European Renal and Cardiovascular medicine (EURECA-m) working group of the European Renal Association (2018-present)
  • Elected member European Renal and Cardiovascular medicine (EURECA-m) working group of the European Renal Association (2015-2018)
  • Editorial Board Member Journal of Human Hypertension (2020-present)
  • Committee Member UK Renal Trials Network (2018-present)
  • Committee Member Cardiorenal Clinical Speciality Group of the Renal Association (2012-present)
  •  Committee Member Chronic Kidney Disease Mineral Bone Disorder Clinical Speciality Group of the Renal Association (2012-present)