Renal Fellows Course Stronger Than Ever After 15 Years

Nephrology fellows recently completed a week-long summer course on renal physiology held at the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratories in Maine. Named the National Course for Renal Fellows: Origins of Renal Physiology, the course has been offered for 15 years and has proved valuable in helping fellows gain a deeper understanding of concepts of physiological homeostasis.  


“As a senior resident at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to attend the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratories even before I knew there a course for Renal fellows,” says Dr. Jeffrey William, the associate director of the Nephrology Fellowship Training Program. “It was there that I learned of the importance of comparative physiology in our understanding of the renal physiology we see every day as nephrologists.” 

Supported by the National Institutes of Health, the course offers trainees (who receive free tuition, room, and board) the opportunity to perform experiments involving both classical physiological models, as well as modern reductionist approaches and confocal microscopy to follow trafficking of transporter proteins in cultured cells.

Fellows benefit from close interactions with senior investigators in renal physiology (who guide them through the performance of experiments) and other fellows from different programs (who offer insights into renal research).

“The trainees were absolutely stellar and the course went off exceptionally well this year,” remarked Dr. Mark Zeidel, one of the course directors. “We followed tight COVID precautions, all participants were vaccinated and all tested negative. Everyone was screened for symptoms and screened with antigen testing on arrival, and everyone was masked in the labs and in all indoor meetings.”  

Comprised of several laboratory modules and one enrichment module in responsible conduct of research, the six-day course covers various topics, including glomerular filtration rate; proximal tubule function; salt balance and secretion; distal nephron sodium transport; water homeostasis; and acid-based homeostasis. The course requires three rotations and involves intensive experimental work and an analysis and presentation of the work to the entire conference group.

“I will always have a special place in my heart for the renal fellows course, where I learned more in one week about basic science, renal physiology, and how lucky I was to be a future nephrologist than I ever thought,” adds William. 

For more information about the National Course for Renal Fellows: Origins of Renal Physiology, visit