Iain Drummond, a professor at the MDI Biological Laboratory, is among the scientists working to create graftable, artificial human kidney tissue. Credit: Courtesy of MDI Biological Laboratory

A Bar Harbor research lab will try to create graftable artificial human kidney tissue as part of research involving scientists from around the world.

MDI Biological Laboratory will get a $3.1 million, 5-year grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases to participate in the (Re)Building a Kidney consortium, according to lab officials.

Laboratory President Dr. Hermann Haller compared the complexity and ambition of the work to landing a man on the moon. Yet, the consortium has already created a three dimensional mini-organ called an organoid — or a kidney in a dish — that can be transplanted into mice and potentially enlarged into an artificial kidney, officials said.

The organoids are pluripotent stem cells — embryonic blood or skin cells reprogrammed as the more than 30 types of kidney cells — that now need to be grown and successfully grafted to a kidney, officials said.

Some 37 million Americans, or more than one adult in seven, suffer from kidney disease, according to the National Kidney Foundation.