Pioneering Researcher Jeff Sands to Receive Smith Award

Jeff M. Sands
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Jeff M. Sands, MD, FASN

Citation: Kidney News 14, 10/11

Prominent investigator Jeff M. Sands, MD, FASN, will be presented the Homer W. Smith Award on Saturday, November 5. This award recognizes outstanding contributions to understanding how kidneys function in normal and diseased states.

Dr. Sands will speak on “Urea Transport to Nephrogenic Diabetes Insipidus: Using Physiology to Develop Novel Therapy.” He is director of the Division of Renal Medicine and Juha P. Kokko Professor of Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. He has also served Emory as executive vice-chair of medicine and associate dean for clinical and translational research.

Dr. Sands’ research group has made major contributions to our understanding of the molecular physiology of urea transporters, aquaporins, and the urine-concentrating mechanism.

The researchers identified urea transporters and defined how they are regulated in ways that have revolutionized our understanding of how urine is concentrated. Dr. Sands’ team showed that vasopressin, a key hormonal regulator of the urine-concentrating mechanism, not only affects water transport within minutes but also stimulates urea transport using perfused rat terminal inner medullary collecting ducts. His group also investigated whether there are non-vasopressin-mediated pathways that increase urea and water transport as a potential strategy to treat congenital nephrogenic diabetes insipidus—work that led to the discovery of an investigational drug that increases urine-concentrating ability and the formation of a startup company to advance the work on this drug.

Among many examples of his professional service, Dr. Sands chaired an ASN Annual Meeting Program Committee and the American Heart Association Kidney Council and was a member of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Board of Scientific Councilors and president of the American Physiological Society (APS). He also served as editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Physiology-Renal Physiology.

Dr. Sands has received several honors, including the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Boston University School of Medicine, the Carl W. Gottschalk Distinguished Lectureship from the APS Renal Section, the Distinguished Achievement Award from the American Heart Association, the Barry M. Brenner Endowed Lectureship from ASN, and an honorary degree from Aarhus University in Denmark.

Dr. Sands is a graduate of Boston University School of Medicine. He completed an internal medicine residency at the University of Chicago, followed by research fellowships at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. He then completed a clinical nephrology fellowship at Emory University, which he joined as an assistant professor in 1989. He was promoted to associate professor in 1993 and to professor in 1998.