J. Todd Purves
Principal Investigator
Associate Professor of Surgery
Contact Information

Campus Mail: DUMC Box 38321, Durham, NC 27710

Phone: 919-613-5918



Our lab focuses on projects that have direct relevance to disorders that are regularly encountered by practicing urologists in the clinic. We are particularly interested in benign urologic disease caused by inflammation in the bladder. We have shown that nod-like receptors (NLRs) and the inflammasomes they form are present in the bladder epithelia where they serve as sensors of sterile damage and potentially bacterial infection. Upon activation, these structures mature the pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-1β and IL-18, which are released and trigger inflammation and lower urinary tract symptoms, such as increased voiding frequency.

Inflammasome formation/activation during bladder outlet obstruction (such as during benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH) and diabetes appears to be a major contributor to urinary dysfunction in those patient populations. Consequently, these two disorders are intensely under study in our lab. A thorough understanding of the inflammasome system in the bladder, while learning to manipulate this system for therapeutic advantage, is the main pillar of our lab.

Contact Us

Individuals interested in discussing this research and/or establishing collaborations should contact Dr. Todd Purves (todd.purves@duke.edu) or Dr. Monty Hughes (monty.hughes@duke.edu).

Lab Director

Francis “Monty” Hughes headshot

Francis “Monty” Hughes Jr., PhD
Assistant Professor of Surgery
Phone: 919-668-8361
E-mail: monty.hughes@duke.edu
Twitter: @fmontyhughes


    1. Purves JT, Hirshman NA, Malick HA, Jin H, Harper SN, Hughes FM Jr. A possible mechanism underlying mood disorders associated with LUTS: Chronic bladder outlet obstruction causes NLRP3-dependent inflammation in the hippocampus and depressive behavior in rats. Eur Urol (submitted), 2020
    2. Wu J, Hayes B, Phoenix C, Macias GS, Miao Y, Hughes FM Jr, Purves JT, Reinhardt RL, Abraham SN. A Highly Polarized Th2 Bladder Response to Infection Promotes Epithelial Repair At the Expense of Preventing New Infections. Nature Immunol (in press),2020
    3. Hirshman NA, Hughes FM Jr, Jin H, Harrison WT, White SW, Doan I, Harper SN, Leidig PD, Purves JT. Cyclophosphamide-Induced Cystitis Results in NLRP3-Mediated Inflammation in the Hippocampus and Symptoms of Depression in Rats. Am J Physiol-Renal 1;318(2):F354-F362, Dec 2019. (PMID: 31869244) (DOI: 10.1152/ajprenal.00408.2019)
    4. Harper SN, Leidig PD, Hughes FM Jr, Jin H, Purves JT. Calcium Pyrophosphate and Monosodium Urate Activate the NLRP3 Inflammasome within Bladder Urothelium via Reactive Oxygen Species and TXNIP. Res Reports Urol, 11:3190325, Nov 2019. (DOI:10.2147/RRU.S225767)
    5. Hughes FM Jr, Hirshman NA, Inouye BM, Jin H, Stanton EW, Yun CE, Davis LG, Routh JC, Purves JT. NLRP3 Promotes Diabetic Bladder Dysfunction and Changes in Symptom-Specific Bladder Innervation. Diabetes, 68(2):430-440, Feb 2019. (PMID: 30425063) (DOI: 10.2337/db18-0845)
    6. Hughes FM Jr, Sexton SJ, Ledig PD, Yun CE, Jin H, Purves JT. Bladder decompensation and reduction in nerve density in a rat model of chronic bladder outlet obstruction is attenuated with the NLRP3 inhibitor glyburide. Am J Physiol-Renal, 316(1):F113-120, Jan 2019. (PMID: 30353742) (DOI: 10.1152/ajprenal.00400.2018)

    Publications and Funded Projects

    View Dr. Purves's profile to see his publications and funded projects.

    Lab Members

    Faculty Members

    Director, Duke University Urinary Dysfunction Laboratory



    • Michael Odom – Post Doctoral research Assosiate
    • Brent Nose – Urology Resident
    • Shelby Harper – Medical Student
    • Huixia Jin – Technician
    • Hamza Malick - Undergraduate Researcher
    • Michael Zheng - Undergraduate Researcher
    • Margaret Lim - Undergraduate Researcher


    • Brian Inouye – Urology resident
    • Stephanie Sexton – Urology Resident
    • Patrick Leidig - Urology Resident
    • Nathan Hirshman – Medical Student
    • Shelby Harper – Medical Student
    • Robin Leutolf – Visiting Graduate Student (Switzerland)
    • Isabelle Doan– Undergraduate Researcher
    • Simon White – Undergraduate Researcher
    • Chloe Yun – Undergraduate Researcher
    • Eloise Stanton – Undergraduate Researcher
    • Hamza Malick – Undergraduate Researcher
    • Kunal Potnis – Undergraduate Researcher
    • Sierra Tolbert – Undergraduate Researcher