ASN Announces Midcareer Award Winners

ASN’s Midcareer Awards recognize individuals who have made substantial and significant contributions in a variety of areas early in their professional lives. The awards recognize up to three winners in each of five categories: clinical service, education, leadership, mentorship, and research.

Distinguished Leader Award

Award Criteria

  • Has sustained achievements in leadership and advanced ASN’s mission to “lead the fight against kidney disease by educating health professionals, sharing new knowledge, advancing research, and advocating the highest quality of care for patients.”
  • Recognizes leadership in any number of areas of medicine, including clinical, educational, research, or administrative efforts.

Holly J. Kramer, MD, MPH

Dr. Kramer is professor of public health sciences and medicine in the division of nephrology and hypertension at Loyola University Chicago as well as being a clinical nephrologist. She is also the associate director for research at the Hines VA Medical Center. Dr. Kramer’s term as president of the National Kidney Foundation ended in October 2020. She has been a vice chair of the foundation’s Kidney Disease Quality and Outcomes program since 2009. Her research focuses on the intersections among kidney disease, nutrition, cardiovascular disease, and health disparities. She has done extensive research on obesity and kidney disease and on genetic variants for kidney disease. She is a co-investigator for the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Along with research, advocacy remains a major focus in her career as she pushes for increased research funding to find better therapies for kidney disease prevention and treatment and to foster the development of young investigators. Dr. Kramer completed medical school at Indiana University. She was chief resident during her internal medicine residency at Emory University and completed a nephrology fellowship at the Massachusetts General Hospital/Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She joined Loyola in 2002, where she became co-director of the clinical research methods and epidemiology program in 2005, developing several courses for the program. She became the program director for the master’s in public health program in 2009.

Kathleen D. Liu, MD, PhD, FASN

Dr. Liu is professor of medicine and anesthesia in the divisions of nephrology and critical care medicine as well as medical director of the apheresis/hemodialysis unit and medical intensive care unit at the University of California, San Francisco. She teaches medical students, residents, and fellows and has written core curriculum articles on acute kidney injury and critical care nephrology for the American Journal of Kidney Disease. Dr. Liu’s research has focused on acute kidney injury, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and critical care nephrology. She is a member of the National Institutes of Health acute lung injury clinical trials network and is involved in a clinical trial of mesenchymal stem cells for the treatment of trauma-associated acute respiratory distress syndrome funded by the U.S. Department of Defense. She is currently performing research focused on the pathways that mediate the relationship between acute kidney injury and subsequent cardiovascular disease in patients enrolled in the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases-sponsored ASSESS-AKI (Assessment, Serial Evaluation, and Subsequent Sequelae of Acute Kidney Injury) Study as well as studies of optimal strategies for renal recovery in patients with AKI that requires dialysis. Dr. Liu completed an MD/PhD program at the University of California, San Francisco. She then trained in internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and in nephrology/critical care at the University of California, San Francisco. She joined the faculty at the University of California, San Francisco, in 2006.

Distinguished Mentor Award

Award Criteria

  • Recognizes individuals who have made contributions to the kidney community through the mentorship and development of other clinicians or researchers. 
  • Inspires trainees to pursue nephrology and become leaders in the transformation of healthcare through innovations in research, education, and practice.

Sofia B. Ahmed, MD, MS

Dr. Ahmed is a professor at the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary and the vice chair for research in the department of medicine. As a nephrologist and clinician-scientist, she is one of Canada’s leading experts on sex and gender differences in human kidney and cardiovascular outcomes. Dr. Ahmed’s research interests are in the study of how women and men differ in terms of progression and complications of kidney disease, and how factors such as sleep apnea and nutrition play a role. She is an Alberta Innovates Health Solutions Investigator and is leading projects supported by the Kidney Foundation of Canada and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. Dr. Ahmed is an advisory board member for the Institute of Gender and Health of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the education chair for the Organization for the Study of Sex Differences, and is the sex and gender champion of the CIHR-funded Canadians Seeking Solutions and Innovations to Overcome Chronic Kidney Disease (Can-SOLVE CKD), a patient-oriented kidney research network. She completed her MD and internal medicine residency at the University of Toronto and a renal fellowship at Brigham and Women’s and Massachusetts General Hospital. She also completed a master’s in medical sciences at Harvard University.

Thu H. Le, MD

Thu Le.jpg

Dr. Le is the John J. Kuiper Distinguished Professor of Medicine and chief of nephrology at the University of Rochester. As a physician-scientist, she is dedicated to patient care, research, and teaching. Her research focuses on kidney mechanisms and genetic determinants of susceptibility to hypertension and kidney disease progression. She has made seminal contributions in the understanding of how the GSTM1 gene influences kidney disease progression in animals and humans, illustrating gene-gene and gene-environment interactions, and illuminating how the TMEM27 gene regulates blood pressure. In addition to publishing in leading journals, she has authored book chapters on the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone systems in Seldin and Giebisch’s The Kidney: Physiology and Pathophysiology. She has served on study sections for the American Heart Association, National Kidney Foundation, and National Institutes of Health. Dr. Le has demonstrated a strong commitment to mentoring. She was the associate program director for the NIH T32 kidney disease and inflammation training program at the University of Virginia for 8 years. She has mentored seven junior faculty and 15 trainees including graduate students, nephrology fellows, and postdoctoral fellows. She has received multiple awards for excellence in teaching and clinical training, including the attending of the year in nephrology at UVA, a UVA department of medicine excellence in mentorship award, and the Castle Connolly Exceptional Women in Medicine Award. A native of Vietnam, she earned her medical degree from George Washington University and completed her internal medicine and nephrology training at Duke University Medical Center. She was on the faculty at Duke from 2000 to 2009. She joined the UVA division of nephrology as associate professor in 2009, where she was awarded the Harrison Distinguished Endowed Chair in 2013 and promoted to Harrison Distinguished Professor of Medicine in 2017. She was recruited by the University of Rochester in 2018.

Distinguished Clinical Service Award

Award Criteria

  • Recognizes individuals who combine the art of medicine with the skills demanded by the scientific body of knowledge in service to patients.
  • Exemplifies leadership and excellence in the practice of nephrology and whose time is spent primarily in the delivery of patient care.
  • Has initiated or been involved in volunteer programs or has provided volunteer service post-training.

Derek M. Fine, MD

Dr. Fine is an associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He is the clinical director of the division of nephrology, having served as the Fellowship Program Director prior to his current role. His area of clinical expertise includes glomerular diseases, particularly lupus nephritis and HIV-related kidney disease. Dr. Fine’s research has focused on optimizing renal outcomes in patients with kidney diseases, particularly those related to HIV and systemic lupus erythematosus. He has published many original research articles and reviews related to these areas. He also published broadly on the natural history and clinical outcomes in HIV-infected individuals with kidney diseases in the era of highly active antiretroviral therapy. In addition, he has been a co-investigator on several National Institutes of Health grants and principal investigator on grants from the National Kidney Foundation Maryland Chapter. His other research interests include the study of rhabdomyolysis and safety and outcomes of kidney biopsy. He is a member of the Miller Coulson Academy of Clinic Excellence at Johns Hopkins and was named the 2018 Physician of the Year at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Dr. Fine received his MD from Johns Hopkins, where he also completed his residency in internal medicine and fellowship in nephrology.

Vandana Dua Niyyar, MD, FASN

Dr. Niyyar is professor of medicine in the division of nephrology at Emory University. Her main clinical interest is in end stage kidney disease, with specific expertise in dealing with vascular access for hemodialysis patients. She is proficient in dialysis access procedures and in kidney ultrasonography, and is active in promoting multidisciplinary collaboration in research and education in the field of vascular access. Dr. Niyyar serves the field in a variety of leadership roles, including as president-elect of the American Society of Diagnostic and Interventional Nephrology (ASDIN), and recently graduated as a fellow of the Woodruff Leadership Academy. She has represented ASN internationally through ASN Highlights and is a member of the ASN Continuous Professional Development Committee and the Kidney Week 2020 Reimagined Task Force. She is a co-author of the recent NephSAP Interventional Nephrology Update and has participated in workgroups including a vascular access task force, an interventional nephrology advisory group, and the Kidney Health Initiative. Dr. Niyyar has taught at numerous training workshops regionally, nationally, and internationally. She co-chaired the ASDIN 2018 and 2019 scientific meetings, the 2018 and 2019 ASN and ASDIN ultrasound workshops and the 2019 National Kidney Foundation hands-on course. She has authored numerous manuscripts and is a regular reviewer for several nephrology journals. After receiving her medical degree in India, she completed her internal medicine residency at the University of Louisville and her nephrology fellowship at Emory University.

Distinguished Researcher Award

Award Criteria

  • Recognizes individuals who have made substantial research contributions to the discipline of nephrology.
  • Displays innovation and excellence in research to advance the science and/or practice of nephrology.

Nisha Bansal, MD, FASN

Dr. Bansal is the Arthur Stach Family Endowed Professor in the division of nephrology at the University of Washington. She is also an investigator in the Kidney Research Institute, the associate director of the fellowship program, and the director of the kidney-heart service at UW. Dr. Bansal’s work has had a significant impact on clinical practice, policy, and the care of patients with kidney disease. Her research has advanced the understanding and treatment of cardiovascular disease among the high-risk population of patients with chronic kidney disease, for whom cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of morbidity and mortality. Her research focuses on clinical, patient-oriented studies to understand the pathophysiology, diagnosis, and treatment of hypertension, cardiac arrythmias, and heart failure in patients with chronic kidney disease. She has published extensively in top journals and her work has been cited in clinical practice guidelines and at national meetings. She has also played an important role in mentoring locally and nationally through multiple leadership positions. She has been an active contributor to ASN, including her recent appointment as an associate editor for Kidney360. Dr. Bansal received her medical degree from the University of Connecticut and her master’s degree in clinical research from the University of California, San Francisco. She completed her internship and residency in internal medicine at Tufts Medical Center, followed by a nephrology fellowship at UCSF. Dr. Bansal was an assistant professor at UCSF prior to joining the University of Washington in 2013.

Lesley Inker, MD

Dr. Inker is an associate professor at Tufts University School of Medicine as well as an attending physician in nephrology and medical director of the kidney and blood pressure center at Tufts Medical Center. Dr. Inker’s primary research interests are in kidney function measurement and estimation, alternative endpoints for clinical trials of kidney disease progression, and epidemiology and outcomes related to chronic kidney disease. She is an investigator on several trials of kidney disease progression. She was the co-principal investigator of the Chronic Kidney Disease Epidemiology Collaboration. This effort pooled individual patient data to address central questions in the epidemiology of CKD and led to development of improved glomerular filtration rate estimation equations. She is currently investigating novel filtration markers, including low molecular weight proteins, beta trace protein, and beta-2-microglobulin. Dr. Inker has led or collaborated in several research studies to evaluate kidney function in special populations, including HIV-positive patients, elderly patients, patients with severe liver disease, and patients with cancer. She is an investigator in the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases’ effort to discover new markers for CKD. Dr. Inker is also interested in research and policy related to implementation of CKD guidelines. She is the inaugural chair of the steering committee for the National Kidney Foundation patient network, which is the first national kidney disease patient registry. She also serves on the NKF scientific advisory board and co-chairs the clinical oversight committee of the Kidney Early Education Program. She is a member of the National Kidney Disease Education Program of the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Inker received her MD from McMaster School of Medicine, in Hamilton, Ontario, and completed an internal medicine residency there. She completed clinical nephrology and research nephrology fellowships at the University of British Columbia. She received an MS in clinical research from Tufts.

Shuta Ishibe, MD

Dr. Ishibe is associate professor of medicine in nephrology, director of the undergraduate summer research program for nephrology, and director of the research fellowship at Yale School of Medicine. He is interested in defining the mechanism of proteinuria by studying podocytes. His team identified a network of proteins that human genetic studies have implicated to be causal for nephrotic syndrome. Dr. Ishibe’s laboratory identified the critical role of the clathrin-coated endocytic processes and cell matrix regulation in the podocytes in maintaining a functioning glomerular filtration barrier. The researchers used animal models with genetic knockout of genes implicated for endocytosis and cell matrix regulation to provide a framework to understand how slit-diaphragm proteins and receptors are recycled in the podocytes and how key focal adhesion proteins link integrins to actin. Further study of these knockout mice—which develop severe proteinuria, kidney failure, and foot process effacement—has allowed the researchers to identify potential targets for therapeutic interventions that may have human applicability to mitigate the progression of proteinuria-induced chronic kidney disease. For ASN, he serves as an associate editor of Kidney360 and a reviewer for Kidney Week Abstracts and was a Kidney Week program committee member. He serves as a reviewer for a variety of journals. Dr. Ishibe received his MD from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School and completed an internship and residency at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas.

Distinguished Educator Award

Award Criteria

  • Honors individuals who have made substantial and meritorious contributions in clinical or research education as it relates to nephrology on both the local and national levels.
  • Has made significant contributions to the education and training of trainees and/or junior faculty.
  • Has acquired special knowledge and keeps abreast of the latest advances in clinical care or research through participation in lifelong learning.

John Sperati, MD

Dr. Sperati is associate professor of medicine in the division of nephrology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He directs the nephrology fellowship training program, and previously was associate program director of the medical residency training program for 7 years. He has directly mentored more than 200 residents, fellows, and graduate students in the past 11 years. Dr. Sperati has focused his clinical and educational efforts on thrombotic microangiopathies, hypertension, and fibromuscular dysplasia. He has lectured widely at national meetings and international institutions, in addition to helping to create care pathways and professional guidelines in the United States and abroad. He has served the National Kidney Foundation as a member of its spring clinical meetings planning committee and its education committee. He is on the editorial board of Advances in Chronic Kidney Disease and a section editor of Current Hypertension Reports. He is a member of the American Board of Internal Medicine exam task force for nephrology. He developed an education seminar for large national and international companies that cultivates executive leadership using medical scenarios grounded in the Socratic method. Dr. Sperati has received funding for clinical trials research in glomerular disease from the National Institutes of Health and industry. He received his MD from the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine and a master’s in clinical epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He completed an internal medicine residency and nephrology fellowship at Johns Hopkins.

  October-November 2020 (Vol. 12, Number 10 & 11)