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Research Track

The overriding goal of the research training program is to foster the development of trainees with a commitment to investigation, preparing them to become leaders in the discovery of new knowledge.

Research opportunities sponsored by the Renal Division include a broad array of basic, translational, and clinical science programs headed by NIH funded investigators. Division investigators have particular strengths in the basic science of epithelial transport, cystic kidney disease, renal development, and the immunologic basis of renal injury. Translational science is represented in the fields of nephrolithiasis, disorders of mineral metabolism, diabetes, and hypertension. Outcomes research programs in hypertension, diabetes, dialysis, health care disparities, depression, and nondiabetic glomerular disease are also active. The breadth of research opportunities is further multiplied by the robust collaborative network that extends across multiple disciplines at UT Southwestern. The extraordinary list of distinguished faculty at the School attests to the strength of this collaborative research environment.

Program Structure

The track is composed of one year of clinical nephrology training followed by one-to-three additional years of research training and investigation. One may pursue basic, translational, or clinical research under the guidance of a research mentor that is identified during the clinical training year. Typically, the research years are supported through a T32 NIH Institutional Service Award. However, highly committed individuals without permanent residency status who are not eligible for T32 support are still encouraged to apply. Additional mechanisms of support are available.

A robust infrastructure is in place to support the training program including the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) Program. Renal Research Conferences and Work-In-Progress meetings are held at regular intervals. Most pursuing either translational or clinical research will also enroll in the Masters of Clinical Science. In this curriculum, trainees have an opportunity to learn principles of clinical epidemiology and trial design while earning a Master’s Degree.

Previous Research Track Fellows

L. Parker Gregg, M.D.

After completing her clinical training in 2016, Dr. Gregg commenced her research under the mentorship of Dr. Susan Hedayati. Her focus has been the study of biomarkers cardiovascular health. She will successfully complete the Masters of Clinical Science Degree Program at the end of her training and joined our faculty on the Clinical Scholar Track in the summer of 2017.

Ronak Lakhia, M.D.

After her clinical year, Dr. Lakhia joined Dr. Vishal Patel’s research laboratory in 2013 under the T32 training grant where she began work on understanding the role of micro-RNA’s in polycystic kidney disease. Her success in the lab resulted in a 1st Place Basic Science Research Award from the Southern Society of Clinical Investigation, a 1st Place Award from the National Kidney Foundation’s Nephrology Young Investigators Forum, and a first author publication in JASN. Dr. Lakhia joined the UT Southwestern faculty in the fall of 2016 and is continuing her research in the Physician Scientist Pathway.

Javier A. Neyra, M.D.

Dr. Neyra has been involved in clinical research in the area of acute kidney injury since the beginning of his postgraduate training. As a Clinical Nephrology Fellow, he received a Clinical Research Award from the Southern Society of Clinical Investigation at the 2013 Nephrology Young Investigators Forum in New Orleans, LA. As a trainee with a J-1 Visa, he commenced the Research Track in 2014 and was able to successfully secure grant support through the Ben J. Lipps Research Fellowship Award from the ASN and the Truelson Fellowship Fund. His work on “Klotho and acute kidney injury: a case-control study in humans” has been under the mentorship of Drs. Orson W. Moe and Robert D. Toto and in collaboration with Dr. Chirag Parikh from Yale University. His research has resulted in several first author manuscripts and several book chapters. He completed his Masters of Clinical Science Degree and went on to join the Division of Nephrology at the University of Kentucky in the fall of 2016.

Lama Noureddine, M.D.

After completing her clinical year, Dr. Noureddine joined Peter Igarashi’s laboratory in 2012 on the T32 NIH research training grant and studied the role of Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor 1β (HNF-1β) in the mouse collecting duct. HNF-1β is a vital transcription factor in the kidney that, when mutated, leads to renal cysts and diabetes in humans. She received the 1st Place Award in Basic Science Research at the 12th Annual Southern Society of Clinical Investigation Young Investigators Forum in New Orleans, LA, in 2013. She went on to present her work at the Annual National Young Investigators Forum at the National Kidney Foundation Meetings in Orlando, FL, in 2013. Dr. Noureddine was the recipient of the Henry Christian Award at the American Federation for Medical Research Eastern Regional Meeting in Washington, D.C. in 2013. Currently, she is Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Nephrology at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine.

Nishank Jain, M.B.B.S.

After his clinical training, Dr. Jain began his research years in 2012 while still a J-1 visa holder. Under the mentorship of Dr. Susan Hedayati, he conducted studies on whole blood platelet aggregation in chronic kidney disease patients on aspirin and clopidogrel. He successfully secured grant support through two mechanisms: the American Heart Association and the Ben J. Lipps Research Fellowship Award from the ASN. Dr. Jain has authored several publications and was recognized by a 2nd Place Clinical Research Award from the Nephrology Young Investigators Forum of the Southern Society of Clinical Investigation. He ultimately joined the nephrology faculty at the University of Kansas Medical Center at the level of Assistant Professor in 2015.

Peter Van Buren, M.D.

As a clinical fellow, Dr. Van Buren became very interested in hypertension in hemodialysis patients and diabetic nephropathy, both common clinical problems. Under the mentorship of Drs. Robert Toto and Jula Inrig and supported by the T32 NIH Training Grant, he commenced work in 2009 on a project studying intradialytic hypertension. He later obtained an NIH F32 Individual Fellowship Grant to complete this work. Dr. Van Buren ultimately joined the faculty at UT Southwestern in 2012 as a Dedman Family Scholar in Clinical Care. He is the recipient of both an American Heart Association Fellow to Faculty Transition Award and an NIH K23 Career Development Award. He conducts clinical and translational research studying the relationship between extracellular volume and vasoconstriction on ambulatory blood pressure in hemodialysis patients. He is also a Principal Investigator and co-PI on numerous multi-center clinical trials in the areas of hypertension, diabetic nephropathy, and hyperphosphatemia in hemodialysis patients. He is an active member of the American Society of Nephrology Hypertension Advisory Group.

Aylin Rodan, M.D., Ph.D.

After her clinical training year, Dr. Rodan joined Chou-Long Huang's lab in 2009 under the T32 Training Grant to conduct research on epithelial ion transport. Her focus has been on the regulation of sodium-coupled cotransporters by WNK and SPAK kinases using the Drosophila renal tubule as a model system. As a fellow, she received first place in basic science at the Nephrology Young Investigator Forums during the Southern Society for Clinical Investigation and National Kidney Foundation annual meetings. Her efforts culminated in an NIDDK NRSA grant award, a Pilot and Feasibility award from the UT Southwestern George M. O’Brien Kidney Research Core Center, the Carl W. Gottschalk Research Scholar Grant from the ASN, and a K08 award from the NIDDK. She established her independent laboratory as a faculty member in our Division in 2012 before ultimately moving her lab to the University of Utah in 2017.