The Nephrology Research and Training Center, established in 1977 at the University of Alabama at Birmingham by Thomas E. Andreoli, served as a catalyst to stimulate multiple areas of investigations in renal physiology and nephrology. Individuals with backgrounds in biophysics, membrane transport, renal hemodynamics, structural biology, and nephrology interacted with each other, thus providing an exciting and collegial environment. The laboratory of renal hemodynamics focused on the control of renal blood flow, glomerular filtration rate in normal and hypertensive models, and on the important role of the macula densa in providing communication from the tubules to the vascular elements. Studies initially focused on the role of the macula densa feedback mechanism in mediating renal autoregulatory behavior. Subsequent experiments examined various aspects of the feedback system, including the identification and characterization of membrane transport events that sense changes in tubular fluid concentration and transfer information to intracellular signaling mechanisms. More recent investigations have focused on the capability of the macula densa cells to synthesize and release various vasoactive mediators that can influence vascular tone of the glomerular arterioles. In particular, the ability of the macula densa cells to secrete ATP has stimulated continued interest in the hypothesis that ATP may serve an important role in mediating signals to afferent arteriolar vascular smooth muscle cells.