Research in the field of nephrology continues to improve our understanding of the mechanisms that promote and drive kidney disease, including how human genetic variation might affect disease predisposition and progression. One of the goals of these research efforts is to inform and enable the implementation of precision medicine, whereby patient management is tailored to the individual according to the mechanisms underlying their disease to increase the chances of therapeutic success. To achieve this goal, we need a clearer understanding of the molecular pathways that underlie the many different causes of kidney failure. These research insights are being increasingly translated and implemented into clinical practice. In this Viewpoint, we asked three individuals who have been affected by kidney failure for their views on the importance of understanding the drivers of kidney disease and, on a personal level, what they hope might be achieved with this information.