EPSRC logo

Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/X013618/1
Title: KidneyAlgo: New Algorithms for UK and International Kidney Exchange
Principal Investigator: Manlove, Professor D
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
NHS Blood and Transplant NHSBT
Department: School of Computing Science
Organisation: University of Glasgow
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 February 2023 Ends: 31 January 2025 Value (£): 456,946
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Fundamentals of Computing Medical science & disease
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
27 Sep 2022 Healthcare Technologies Investigator Led Panel Sept 2022 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Kidney failure can have a devastating impact on patients' lives. Transplantation offers much better long-term survival prospects compared to dialysis, but there is an acute shortage of donors. Compared to deceased kidney donation, living-donor kidney donation (LKD) has even better long-term patient and transplant outcomes. However, medical incompatibility, for example, may prevent a living donor from donating a kidney to a loved one who is in need.

Kidney Exchange Programmes (KEPs) help to increase LKD by allowing recipients who require a kidney transplant, and who have a willing but medically incompatible donor, to "swap" their donor with that of another recipient, leading to a cycle of transplants. Altruistic donors may trigger chains of transplants that can also benefit multiple recipients.

The UK Living Kidney Sharing Scheme (UKLKSS), which is operated by NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT), is the largest KEP in Europe. Algorithms developed by Manlove and his colleagues have been used by NHSBT to find optimal solutions for UKLKSS matching runs every quarter since 2008. There are several ways in which the UKLKSS can be expanded and strengthened in the future, to facilitate better matches and more transplants, as follows:

1. Cycles and chains are currently restricted in length for logistical reasons. Allowing longer cycles and chains than at present will lead to more kidney transplants.

2. International collaboration between the UK and other countries will lead to more transplantation opportunities, particularly for highly sensitised (hard to match) recipients.

3. In the presence of longer cycles and chains, and international collaboration, the existing interpretation of an "optimal" solution will no longer be valid. Conducting simulations will allow NHSBT to determine exactly what they wish to optimise in the light of long-term effects on simulated data.

Delivering these enhancements will involve tackling the following complex research challenges:

(RC1): design algorithms for larger pools and longer cycles / chains. As the underlying computational problem of finding an optimal set of kidney exchanges is intractable, advanced techniques are required to find a solution efficiently.

(RC2): design algorithms for international kidney exchange. When multiple countries are participating in an international KEP, key considerations of fairness and stability become important.

(RC3): design algorithms to cope with changes to optimality criteria. A small change to an optimality objective can necessitate significant changes to the algorithm to find an optimal solution.

(RC4): create a dynamic dataset generator, producing instances that reflect real-world characteristics. This will give realistic estimates of the effects of different optimality criteria for NHSBT.

The proposed project will meet all these challenges via a new collaboration between Glasgow and Durham. This will provide a synergy between the expertise of Manlove in matching problems and kidney exchange, and that of Paulusma in game-theoretic aspects of matching problems and international kidney exchange.

The main resources requested are Postdoctoral Research Associates at Glasgow and Durham, and a Research Software Engineer at Glasgow. The project partner NHSBT will be a key member of the project team. The project will also benefit from the expertise of the following visiting researchers: Maxence Delorme (Tilburg University, operational research), Péter Biró and Márton Benedek (KRTK Budapest, algorithmic game theory).

The work programme comprises three interconnected work packages, as follows:

WP1: design of new algorithms for national KEPs, using advanced integer programming techniques.

WP2: design of new algorithms for international KEPs, using techniques from cooperative game theory.

WP3: software implementation and experimental evaluation, which will include building new software for the UKLKSS, realising the impact of this project.
Key Findings
This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Potential use in non-academic contexts
This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Description This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Date Materialised
Sectors submitted by the Researcher
This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Project URL:  
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.gla.ac.uk