Nephrology Research Training Program

Supported by an NIH-funded T32 training grant, the Nephrology Research Training Program provides a structured and mentored training experience in basic and clinical and translational research for MDs, PhDs and MD/PhDs. MDs and MD/PhDs will generally undertake a year of clinical Nephrology fellowship training prior to undertaking research training supported by the training grant.

The goal of the Vanderbilt Nephrology Training Program is to provide promising MD and/or PhD postdoctoral fellows with the knowledge and the tools to become the leaders in both basic and translational research efforts to generate new understanding in the pathogenesis of kidney diseases, and to develop and implement new treatments and cures for patients with kidney disease. The faculty who participate in the Vanderbilt Nephrology Training Program represent a group of talented and accomplished researchers with a broad range of scientific expertise and research interests. This group consists of 29 investigators whose primary appointment is in either Adult or Pediatric Nephrology as well as 15 other clinical and basic scientists who have ongoing interests in kidney disease or associated scientific questions. The training faculty are based in the departments of Medicine, Pediatrics, Pathology, Preventive Medicine, Bioinformatics, Biochemistry, Cell and Developmental Biology, and Anesthesia. Research interests of the faculty include mechanisms of chronic glomerular and tubulointerstitial injury, acute kidney injury, cell matrix and cell-cell interactions, renal development, epithelial cell biology, eicosanoid biology, epidemiology of progressive kidney disease, development of clinical biomarkers, health services research, and clinical trials. The training program is structured to provide physician/scientist (MD or MD/PhD) and selected basic scientist (PhD) trainees with a focused and productive research experience that will serve as the foundation for an independent investigative career directed toward understanding and treatment of renal disease.

Specific aims of the program

  • To recruit and support, MD, MD/PhD and PhD postdoctoral trainees to become successful investigators by providing research training experience with opportunities to develop sufficient knowledge, skills, and expertise to successfully pursue independent investigative careers
  • To develop skills that support a successful career, including communication, resiliency, team building, collaborative science, and grant writing and management
  • To prioritize the recruitment of underrepresented minority trainees into kidney-related research training and to support all aspects of career development necessary for a sustained and highly rewarding career

We aim to provide a structured and rigorous training program that aims to monitor the trainee’s progress and guide career development. With our committed faculty and formal mentorship procedures, we can provide a high-quality research training experience for both preclinical and clinical research postdoctoral trainees.

Basic science trainees have a wide range of potential research areas to pursue. In addition to laboratory meetings and conferences specific to the individual laboratories, all trainees are expected to attend and participate in the following activities:

Research Seminar (one hour weekly):
These weekly conferences are attended by both the laboratory-based and clinical research trainees and training faculty. Faculty, visiting speakers and trainees present at this conference.

Physiology/Pathophysiology Course (one hour weekly):
All Nephrology fellows and postdoctoral fellows supported by the T32 grant attend a weekly course in renal physiology and pathophysiology, taught by Gautam (Jay) Bhave, MD, PhD. The reading material consists of relevant chapters in textbooks and scientific articles. The course is taught by the Socratic method and encourages engagement and participation by the trainees.

Program for Mentored Clinical Research:
The program for Mentored Clinical Research is a division-supported initiative that aims to support the growth and development of nephrology trainees interested in pursuing extended training in patient-oriented research within a structured and challenging environment. Coordinated by Edward D. Siew, MD, MSCI, the program facilitates the early identification of trainees with the potential for and interest in clinical research; primary mentors both in and outside of the division with common thematic interest and/or a methodologic expertise in the area of interest; facilitates application to institutional programs that offer formal training in clinical research; and monitors progress. Program entry will occur at the beginning of the second year of fellowship (third year for trainees also enrolled in the transplant fellowship) and is expected to last two to four years. However, prospective trainees will be identified and encouraged to meet with Dr. Siew during their clinical year to facilitate a more timely and effective transition. During the first six months of the research training, emphasis is placed on learning fundamental methodologies in clinical research including, but not limited to, study design, biostatistics, data acquisition, and data analysis provided by the mentor and statistical consultant. As part of this early experience, the trainee is also expected to apply to either the Master of Science in Clinical Investigation Program (MSCI) or Master of Public Health (MPH) Programs available through Vanderbilt University Medical Center to provide formal didactic training and structured foundation to perform methodologically sound research. Support for these programs is provided by the Division of Nephrology and Hypertension, as available, and initial salary support will be provided by the T32 divisional training program. The ensuing two to three years are devoted to the further development of the clinical investigator, including progress in the primary research project, publication and presentations, with primary oversight being provided by the trainee’s Mentoring Committee in collaboration with the primary mentor. Trainees are expected to apply for available intra- and extramural funding during this time frame with the goal of successfully competing for a career development awarded (K12, K23, VA Career Development Award, etc.). The final component of the mentoring plan is establishing independence clinical investigator. While extraordinary clinical investigators may obtain independent research support early in their careers, bridge funding, such as a mentored research career award between early career and independent research, will normally be pursued.

Nephrology Research Fellowship Catalyst Program:
The T32 program includes supporting postdoctoral trainees within the Division of Nephrology and Hypertension, as well as trainees outside of the division who perform Nephrology-related research. In the fall of 2018, the division initiated the Nephrology Research Fellowship Catalyst Program directed by Matthew H. Wilson MD, PhD. Designed to enhance three-way interactions among the research fellow, mentor and the division, the catalyst program aims to facilitate higher academic and professional success of scientists and physician scientists through improved mentorship and oversight of fellows pursing nephrology research.

At the center of the research training experience for the trainee is the completion of research projects under the direction of a primary mentor. The following faculty mentors are available for trainees:

  • Juan Pablo Arroyo, MD, PhD
  • Kelly Birdwell, MD, MSCI
  • Fabian Bock, MD, PhD
  • Craig Brooks, PhD
  • Kerri Cavanaugh, MD, MHS
  • Mark deCaestecker, MBBS, PhD
  • Rachel Fissell, MD
  • William Fissell, IV, MD
  • Agnes Fogo, MD (Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology) 
  • Eman Gohar, PhD
  • Volker Haase, MD
  • Raymond Harris, MD
  • David Harrison, MD (Cardiovascular Medicine)
  • Billy Hudson, PhD
  • Adriana Hung, MD, MPH
  • T. Alp Ikizler, MD
  • Valentina Kon, MD (Pediatric Medicine)
  • Jennifer Lewis, MD
  • James Luther, MD, MSCI
  • Ambra Pozzi, PhD
  • Cassianne Robinson-Cohen, PhD
  • Edward Siew, MD
  • Andrew Terker, MD, PhD
  • Ebele Umeukeje, MD, MPH
  • Roberto Vanacore, PhD
  • Lorraine Ware, MD (Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine)
  • Matthew Wilson, MD, PhD
  • Lauren Woodard, PhD
  • Roy Zent, MD, PhD
  • Ming-Zhi Zhang, MD, MSc

Please submit applications to the Division of Nephrology and Hypertension c/o Jennifer Reike, Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Interested applicants should email Jennifer Reike at

Program Leadership

Raymond Harris, MD

Professor of Medicine
Director, Nephrology Research Training Program

T. Alp Ikizler, MD

Professor of Medicine
Director, Division of Nephrology and Hypertension