Summer Research Training Program

The Summer Research Training Program is Vanderbilt University Medical Center's pioneering solution to meet workforce needs in nephrology and nephrology research by offering medical students a nine-week summer research immersion program at VUMC in Nashville.

Over the last two decades the prevalence of chronic kidney disease and demand for subspecialists in nephrology has increased worldwide, yet medical students and internal medicine residents appear to prefer other disciplines.

Over half of all fellowship training programs in the United States had available positions after the match in 2020. A search for publications with the words "nephrology workforce" delivered 464 distinct articles in PubMed. NIH-sponsored mentored physician-scientist career development awards in nephrology have averaged fewer than 20 per year for several years. Some possible reasons for this are the disconnect between need and supply in nephrology, including lack of faculty role models, the intricacy of kidney physiology, and the case mix to which internal medicine house staff are exposed during training.

To help train the next generation of nephrology subspecialists, the Division of Nephrology within the Department of Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center offers the Summer Research Training Program (SRTP), held each year in partnership with VUMC's Diabetes Research and Training Center.

The SRTP has four key features:

  1. Each trainee is paired with a research mentor and each trainee conducts original research in the mentor's laboratory
  2. A didactic lecture series consists of paired presentations from a clinician and a basic science researcher on renal diseases. These include areas of unique expertise at Vanderbilt, such as Dr. Billy Hudson talking about Goodpasture's disease, Dr. T. Alp Ikizler talking about nutrition in dialysis, and other topics. This matching of clinical and research topics allows students to see research and treatment as a continuum rather than separate worlds.

  3. Weekly small-group meetings with the SRTPs directors to help students learn to present and contextualize their research

  4. Each student presents her or his research at a national symposium held in Nashville at the end of the summer

Students apply to the SRTP in January of their first year of medical school. The selection process considers a wide range of factors in ranking applicants. The program's directors seek a balanced student body that includes students who already have shown proficiency in research, as well as students who have not had the opportunity to participate in research.

The program pays a summer stipend to each student, rather than charging tuition, so that we can admit students on a need-blind basis. Students from underrepresented minorities and nontraditional backgrounds are competitive regardless of prior research training.

YearTraineeFaculty MembersResearch Project
2021Stephanie BennettRay Harris, PhDAristolochic Acid Directly Activates Macrophages in Aristolochic Acid Nephropathy

Morgan BlackMatt Wilson, MD, PhDGenetically Modifying T-Lymphocytes to Secrete Therapeutic Proteins

Nigel D'SouzaWilliam Fissell, MDSubstrate Elasticity Influences Differentiation of Renal Tubule cells through a TGF-B Signaling Pathway

Washington Johnson, IIILauren Woodard, PhDEfficacy of nephron-progenitor cell administration in mice with acute kidney injury

Peter LiddellRachel Fissell, MDTriple P: Patient Perspectives on Peritoneal Dialysis (PD) and the PD Catheter

Melissa MaT. Alp Ikizler, MDCultural Tailoring of Motivational Strategies to Improve Hemodialysis Adherence in African Americans

Teebro RahmanMark de Caestecker, MBBS, PhDDefects in renal papillae repair after reversible ureteric obstruction
2019Charlotte BlumrosenKerri Cavanaugh, MD, MHSInterventions to Improve Dialysis Treatment Adherence in Blacks with ESRD: A Systematic Review

Saqib ChariwalaRay Harris, PhDDescribing the Variation of a Growth versus Fixed Mentality in Home Peritoneal Dialysis (PD) Patients

Sora CheeWilliam Fissell, PhDEffect of ECM substrate concentration on prolonged culture of renal proximal tubule cells

Sahana HarikrishnanAdriana Hung, MD, MPHPhenome-wide association study (PheWAS) of Uromodulin (UMOD) in the Million Veteran Program (MVP)

Emily NewtonMark de Caestecker, MBBS, PhDEpithelial cell migration and tubular repair after reversal of ureteral obstruction in mice

Architha SudhakarHeidi Schaefer, MDContract a Virus to Save a Life: A Comparison of Short-Term Outcomes Between Adult Hepatitis C Negative and Kidney Transplant Recipients Receiving Hepatitis C NAT Positive

Trevor K. ThompsonLauren Woodard, PhDUrine derived stem cells may repair injured in vitro models of adult kidney epithelium
2018Morgan CashMatthew Luther, MDCase identification and genetic characterization of Cortisol-producing adrenal adenomas (Adrenal Cushing’s

Christal ClemensMark de Caestecker, MBBS, PhDMacrophage Kinetics and Phenotype are Different in Mouse Acute Kidney Injury Models: Ischemia Reperfusion and Rhabdomyolysis-induced Acute Kidney Injury

Nikita DahakeBarbara Fingleton, PhDInduction of Macrophage Polarization by Colorectal Cancer Cells and Effects of Type II IL4R Blockade

Justin T. DzierzawskiWenbiao Chen, PhDRoles of Slc38a9 and mTORC1 in α- cell Proliferation

Kathryn T. EnriquezAlvin Powers, MDExpression of the Cationic Amino Acid Transporter SLC7A2 is Upregulated in Mouse and Human Pancreatic Alpha Cells

Maureen C. FarrellCyndya Shibao, MDRole of CD36 in Nutrient Delivery and its Dysfunction in African Americans

Aditya HublikarDavid Harrison, MDHydrogels with tunable stiffness for use in an implantable bioartificial kidney

Simone M. LaingLindsay Mayberry, PhD, MSEngaging family and friends in adults’ type 2 diabetes self-management with technology

Sanyk McCullerMaria Hadjifrangiskou, PhDCharacterizing unique genetic and metabolic signatures to differentiate symptomatic from asymptomatic urinary E. coli isolates

Robert McMahonLeslie Gewin, MDWnt/beta-catenin signaling augments FoxO activity in proximal tubule cells under oxidative stress
2017Nelish ArdeshnaAdriana Hung, MD, MPHGlucose metabolism disorders and cardiovascular health in CKD patients

Lucas CarverDavid Harrison, MDThe Role of Prostaglandin E2 in Immune Activation during Hypertension

Brett JohnsonT. Alp Ikizler, MDEffects of a Novel CYP3A4 Single- Nucleotide Polymorphism on Tacrolimus Pharmacokinetics in African American Kidney Transplant Patients

James Bradley MasonMark de Caestecker, MBBS, PhDThe Regulation of T cell responses by Retinoic Acid Signaling in Acute Kidney Injury

Deklerk NgankamKerri Cavanaugh, MD, MHSAssessing Dialysis Treatment Nonadherence in African Americans

Nicole ParelladaJames Luther, MDH-NMR Fingerprinting Assesses Effects of Aldosterone on Urinary Metabolites
2016Rishabh AgarwalWilliam Fissell, MDSugar-induced Modifications alter biomechanical properties of Glomerular ECM

Darrell GachetteKelly Birdwell, MD, MSCIThe association between insulin resistance and endothelial function in renal transplant recipients

Brandon H. LaytonDavid Harrison, MDMiRNA-762 Causes Aortic Stiffening by Inhibiting Sprouty-1

Rabia OsmanKerri Cavanaugh, MD, MHSThe Impact of Provider Attitudes on Phosphate Binder Adherence

Shannon RadomskiHeidi Schaefer, MDThe Effect of Duration of Dialysis on Mental Health-Related Quality of Life, and Symptoms of Depression

Nivetha SubramanianAdriana Hung, MD, MPHDysmetabolism of CKD and Vascular Health
2015Apoorv CheboluGautam Bhave, MD, PhDLight Chain Deposition Disease as an animal model for nodular glomerulosclerosis

Daniel DesticheHeidi Schaefer, MDEvaluating the Associations Between Clinical and Psychosocial Risk Factors and Adverse Post-Transplant Events in High Risk Renal Transplant Recipients

Kiang Yien (Aaron) CheungAmbra Pozzi, PhDAnalysis of Discoidin Domain Receptor 1 expression and function in acute kidney injury

Madison Coleman LampkinWilliam Fissell, MDTherapeutic drug monitoring – determining tazobactam concentration

Kevin Ramesh PatelMark de Caestecker, MBBS, PhDHeat Shock Protein Activation Prevents Renal Fibrosis in Acute Kidney Injury

Supriya ShahMatt Luther, MDEffects of sodium restriction on insulin sensitivity and insulin secretion in metabolic syndrome
2014Thomas Chad BinnsVolker Haase, PhDRenal interstitial cell plasticity underlies the hypoxic erythropoietin response

Sthuthi DavidT. Alp Ikizler, MDNutrition, Inflammation, and Insulin Resistance in End Stage Renal Disease

Emily F. KellyRay Harris, MDThe role of CSF-1 in macrophage proliferation and differentiation in acute kidney injury

Megan MizeraKhaled Abdel-Kader, MDAssessing Correlates and Inter-rater Reliability of the Surprise Question in Non-dialysis Dependent CKD
2013Amanda BoxKerri Cavanaugh, MD, MHSUnderstanding and Overcoming Barriers to Kidney Transplantation

Gowri L. RamachandranKerri Cavanaugh, MD, MHSFacilitating Anemia Treatment Risk Communication for Patients with Kidney Disease: Decision Aid Trial Feedback
2012Amanda ClarkT. Alp Ikizler, MDPrognostic value of NGAL, KIM-1, and IL-18 as biomarkers in the critically ill with established acute kidney injury

Nina NaniRay Harris, MDThe Role of Macrophage COX-2 in the Development of Diabetic Nephropathy

Contact the Summer Research Training Program organizers:

Gautam (Jay) Bhave, MD, PhD

Professor of Medicine, Division of Nephrology & Hypertension


William Fissell, IV, MD

Professor of Medicine, Division of Nephrology & Hypertension


For more information and questions, please email Jennifer Rieke, Program Manager, or call (615) 343-5400.