Research / Clinical Trials

Research and Clinical Trials

Our faculty actively conducts a full spectrum of basic science, clinical and translational research to improve patient health and develop a more personalized approach to care. We discover and innovate new ways to prevent, diagnose, treat and manage urologic conditions. This leads to more successful patient outcomes and more cost-effective care.

We design and lead – and provide our patients with access to – numerous clinical trials. Our research programs and faculty receive funding from the National Institutes of Health, public and private entities, and industry-sponsored endeavors. This creates a dynamic research environment that readily applies research findings.
In many cases, the Department of Urology leads national and international, multi-center studies and trials directed by Vanderbilt faculty and researchers.

Broad Research Interests

Research work in the Department of Urology includes a wide range of topics across each division. Efforts focus on:

  • Basic science, including the study of disease through cell and tissue biology, immunology, neurobiology, biochemistry, pharmacology, microbiology, and genetics. 
  • Clinical research, using studies, observational research, and clinical trials to answer questions about the safety and efficacy of medicines, devices, treatments, and other interventions.  
  • Translational research that transforms scientific discoveries from the lab into useful methods or tools to prevent, diagnose or treat urologic disease.

Urology Research Divisions

Each division within the Department of Urology pursues its own research initiatives. Divisions often collaborate with one another, as well as with other departments throughout Vanderbilt University and the Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

  • Basic Science Research. Our work includes mechanistic studies on androgen regulates the growth of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and prostate cancer. Specifically, our work focuses on why patients with BPH fail medical therapy and how prostate cancer progresses from castrate-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) to neuroendocrine prostate cancer (NEPC).
  • Health Services Research. Faculty research includes characterizing the downstream effects of prostate cancer treatments and outcomes associated with genitourinary malignancies and identifying new ways to deliver high-value care. 
  • Endourology and Stone Disease. We study treatment methods, devices and surgical approaches for stone disease, as well as prevention methods and pain management.  
  • Ambulatory Urology. Tumor registries and studying and improving many common procedures 
  • Pediatric Urology. Pediatric research in collaboration with other departments that seeks to identify causes for abnormal development of the kidney and urinary tract. 
  • Pelvic Reconstruction and Neurourology. Faculty study and develop new surgical approaches, test stem cell, and gene therapy and work in urodynamics to better understand incontinence and overactive bladder. 
  • Urologic Oncology. Our wide-ranging cancer research includes the CEASAR Prostate study (tracking which treatments work best for which patients, and in whose hands); evaluating the comparative effectiveness and harm resulting from different prostate cancer management strategies and multiple cross-collaborations related to the prevention, diagnosis, and management of urologic cancers. 

All of our research – whether in the lab or at the bedside – informs our development of better patient care models and health care policy initiatives.

Urology Clinical Trials

The Department of Urology participates in and leads a number of national and university-based clinical trials that further our research and give patients access to cutting-edge medicine, techniques, and diagnostic modalities.

Clinical trials are available for many different disease processes, from prostate cancer to metastatic urothelial cancer. Learn more.

Research Labs

Our faculty directs multiple labs throughout Vanderbilt University and the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. The productive research generated by these labs contributes to the work of the Department of Urology – and to the overall field of urology – in areas such as:

  • Engineering and robotic surgery 
  • Cancer research 
  • Care models 
  • Pain perceptions

Medical students, residents, and fellows receive training and work alongside faculty in our labs.

Our Labs

Vanderbilt Institute for Surgery and Engineering (VISE). VISE is a joint effort between the School of Engineering and the School of Medicine. Investigators develop, design and test new medical devices and tools, such as an image-guided interface for robotic surgery systems.


Vanderbilt Center for Surgical Quality and Outcomes Research (CSQOR). The CSQOR is a collaboration of 11 different surgical and non-surgical Vanderbilt departments. A multidisciplinary team of physicians, surgeons, residents, and biostatisticians all work together to improve outcomes and overall quality of life for surgical patients.


  • David Penson, MD, MPH, Director and Principal Investigator; Professor and Chair, Department of Urology
  • Daniel Barocas, MD, MPH, Co-Director and Principal Investigator; Associate Professor and Vice-Chairman, Department of Urology

Vanderbilt Center for Benign Urologic Diseases. This center brings together experts from diverse and related fields to better understand the relationship between enlarged prostate or benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), and changes in bladder compliance or lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) with and other associated co-morbidities. Our research will lay the groundwork for further studies of appropriate treatment options for the broader disease syndrome.


Faculty within the Vanderbilt Department of Urology lead studies that seek to bridge the gap between health services research and the quality and value of patient care. As one of the highest volume surgical practices in the country, we are committed to innovative surgical approaches, including robotics, image-guided surgery and minimally-invasive approaches.

Our team:

  • Identifies patient-specific factors that mediate the effectiveness or side effects of different treatments 
  • Evaluates healthcare outcomes 
  • Compares treatment studies 

We follow our surgical patients and constantly investigate new approaches to provide the best possible outcomes.