Animal experiments using single organs as models of fibrosis spur therapeutic development toward promising targets, but testing of these therapies in human fibrosis yielded disappointing results and limited efficacy. Finding core pathways relevant in different organs that can become fibrotic will uncover molecules that will prove useful as therapeutic targets in many species, including humans. In ‘Bench to Bedside’, Scott Friedman, Wajahat Mehal and John Iredale discuss this new paradigm in fibrosis research and its potential as a new drug development approach. In ‘Bedside to Bench’, Alison Eddy peruses how the protein encoded by UMOD, a gene linked to variable risk for chronic kidney disease and hypertension in humans, may have a role in fibrosis and kidney disease. Uncovering the normal function of UMOD and its gene variants will shed light on the pathogenesis of chronic kidney disease and aid in the discovery of new targets for kidney fibrosis and hypertension.