End-stage renal disease (ESRD) is a rapidly growing cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States. Moreover, the costs of treating ESRD in these patients exceed $22 billion annually (USRDS 2003 Annual Report). Although data are uncertain, the number of patients with chronic renal disease is at least an order of magnitude greater than that of patients with ESRD. In addition, relative to the general population, the prevalence of renal disease and ESRD is several-fold higher among minority groups such as African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Native Americans. Therefore, the renal research community is confronted with:
- Determining the pathogenesis of renal disease in order to prevent renal disease and to forestall progression to ESRD in patients with established renal disease.
- Understanding the pathophysiology of ESRD and risk factors for patients with ESRD in order to reduce co-morbidity and mortality among these patients.
- Determining the factors responsible for the enhanced incidence of ESRD among minority groups in order to develop strategies to reduce this augmented risk.
- Optimizing renal replacement modalities, both dialysis and transplant, in order to reduce morbidity and mortality of ESRD patients.
The NIH-sponsored Post-doctoral Fellowship Training Program is designed to prepare post-doctoral trainees with either M.D. or Ph.D. degrees for a career in basic, clinical or epidemiological Nephrology research. Training is carefully designed and individually tailored for each trainee and combines a didactic program with a mentored research experience.
The efforts of the 43 faculty members in the Training Program (from 13 Departments and 5 Schools/Colleges) span a broad spectrum of renal research, from basic cell and molecular biology of renal growth and development, renal physiology and renal injury, to bioengineering and translational diagnostics of renal disease, to epidemiologic and outcomes studies of ESRD risk factors, minority health, and ESRD treatment modalities, to ESRD treatment innovations in both dialytic and transplant modalities. Therefore, our trainees have the opportunity to select their research projects from a wide-ranging yet integrated bench-to-bedside program. Depending on the trainee’s research orientation, a didactic program in basic or clinical science is designed by the Fellow, Program Director and Mentor. Fellows can enroll in a variety of education programs designed to provide them with specific training in their area of research. The didactic training is interwoven with a mentored research experience that begins at the onset of research training and continues throughout the duration of the program.