Researcher to Receive Homer W. Smith Award

Friedhelm Hildebrandt, MD

Acclaimed researcher Friedhelm Hildebrandt, MD, will receive the Homer W. Smith Award and deliver an address at Kidney Week on “Single-Gene Defects Elucidate Mechanisms of CKD.”

Dr. Hildebrandt is the Warren E. Grupe Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and chief of the division of nephrology at Boston Children’s Hospital. He is also an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

The Homer W. Smith Award recognizes those who have made outstanding contributions to understanding how kidneys function in normal and diseased states, and Dr. Hildebrandt’s research has increased this understanding in several areas.

His research is concerned with the identification and functional characterization of recessive single-gene causes of kidney diseases in children, including nephrotic syndrome, cystic renal ciliopathies, and congenital anomalies of the kidney. His group has identified more than 50 novel causative genes for chronic kidney disease and delineated the related pathogenesis.

Dr. Hildebrandt’s lab studies the function of newly identified disease genes in disease models of mice and zebrafish as well as in cell-based systems. His work contributed to the early development of efficient methods for gene identification by combining homozygosity mapping with total human exome resequencing. His group recently discovered that DNA damage repair plays a role in the pathogenesis of ciliopathies.

His lab has also shown that in a very high percentage of cases of chronic kidney disease of childhood, a single gene may be identified using high-throughput sequencing techniques.

His lab’s research has been supported solely by peer-reviewed research grants, mostly from the National Institutes of Health, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the March of Dimes, and the German Research Foundation. He has published more than 240 original articles.

Dr. Hildebrandt received his medical degree from Heidelberg University in Germany and his pediatric and nephrology training at Marburg University Children’s Hospital. He was a postdoctoral research fellow at Yale University Medical School. He has received many awards, including the E. Mead Johnson Award from the Society for Pediatric Research, Franz Volhard Award from the German Society of Nephrology, and Lillian Jean Kaplan Award for Polycystic Kidney Disease Research.

He is an elected member of the Association of American Physicians and the German National Academy of Sciences.

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Homer W. Smith

Homer W. Smith was chairman of physiology at the University of Virginia before moving in 1928 to New York University (NYU). As director of the Physiology Laboratories at NYU, he developed and refined the concepts of glomerular filtration and tubular absorption and secretion of solutes.

The clarity of Dr. Smith’s logic and the skill with which he explained his ideas transformed them into vivid and powerful concepts that are the cornerstones of our present understanding of normal and abnormal renal function. He attracted the best and brightest to the field, to NYU, and to the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory, where he spent many summers studying renal physiology in fish.

The Homer W. Smith award recognizes individuals who contribute to our basic understanding of how the kidneys function in health and disease.