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Faculty members in the Renal-Electrolyte and Hypertension Division engage in both basic laboratory research and leading-edge clinical research to further advance our understanding of and develop novel treatments for kidney disease.

Nephrology Clinical Research

Roy Bloom, MD

Roy Bloom, MD is the Medical Director of the Penn Transplant Institute Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program. He has served on KDIGO Work Groups related to the development of clinical practice guidelines for both managing hepatitis C virus in kidney disease, as well as for the management of kidney transplant recipients and has participated as a member of KDOQI Commentary Work Groups for the KDIGO Clinical Practice Guidelines related to both Care of the Kidney Transplant Recipient as well as for Lipid Management in Chronic Kidney Disease. His current research interest is focused in three major arenas. The first area of investigation involves clinical trials with contemporary and emerging therapies. Besides conducting studies with emerging immunosuppressive agents, his current clinical trial portfolio includes the assessment of both innovative strategies and regimens to reduce-transplant related complications such as ischemia-reperfusion injury, delayed graft function, new onset diabetes, as well as the use of novel non-invasive biomarkers as early diagnostic indicators of subsequent immune-mediated allograft injury. A second field of interest relates to pharmacokinetic evaluation of therapies in kidney recipients, specifically evaluating special subpopulations for whom available data on which to base dosing is relatively limited. A final investigational theme analyzes pre- and post-transplant outcomes related to viral infections, in particular hepatitis C virus, hepatitis E virus, CMV, HIV and BK virus.

Debbie Cohen, MD

Debbie Cohen, MD is a Professor of Medicine with an interest in clinical research in the areas of hypertension, CKD and neuroendocrine tumors. She was the co-Principal Investigator (PI) on the NIH funded Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT ) Study investigating different systolic BP goals in high-risk older adults, many of whom have CKD. She is a co-PI on the Chronic Renal Insufficiency Cohort Study (CRIC). She is the site PI on the renal denervation SPYRAL HTN-ON MED and OFF MED studies. She is also the co-director of the PENN Neuroendocrine Translational Center of Excellence, which has multiple clinical and translational ongoing studies in patients with pheochromocytomas or paragangliomas.

Jordana Cohen, MD, MSCE

Jordana Cohen, MD, MSCE, performs clinical and epidemiologic research in the areas of hypertension and chronic kidney disease. Her primary clinical interests are complex hypertension and chronic kidney disease. Her current research focuses on the pharmacologic management and measurement of blood pressure in high-risk patient populations. She is currently the PI of the Management of Hypertension in Obesity Study and BLOCK HFpEF Trial, and co-I of the Chronic Renal Insufficiency Cohort as part of the Scientific Data Coordinating Center at Penn.

Laura Dember, MD

Laura Dember, MD conducts patient-oriented research including clinical trials and mechanistic studies in chronic kidney disease with a particular focus on interventions to improve clinical outcomes in end-stage kidney disease. Her research is funded by NIH and PCORI. Dr. Dember is the Principal Investigator the for the Data Coordinating Center of the NIDDK Hemodialysis Novel Therapies Consortium, which is conducting early phase clinical trials targeting ESRD-associated inflammation, and for the Scientific and Data Research Center for the NIDDK HOPE trial, a 14-site randomized trial evaluating behavioral and pharmacologic approaches to chronic pain among patients treated with maintenance hemodialysis. She is the Principal Investigator the TiME Trial, a large, pragmatic cluster-randomized clinical trial conducted through the NIH Health Care Systems Research Collaboratory. The TiME Trial enrolled more than 7000 participants at >250 dialysis units throughout the United States using a highly centralized and efficient implementation approach that leverages the infrastructure of dialysis provider organizations. This model for clinical trial implementation is now being used for other dialysis trials including the NIDDK HiLo trial of phosphate targets for which Dr. Dember is a Co-Investigator. Dr. Dember is also a Co-Investigator for the Scientific and Data Coordinating Center for the NIDDK Chronic Renal Insufficiency Cohort study, a large observational study of individuals with chronic kidney disease that examines effects of a broad range of risk factors on the progression and health consequences of CKD. Other areas of investigation being led by current trainees/mentees of Dr. Dember include hemodialysis fistula maturation, fluid management in hemodialysis, self-management in chronic kidney disease, and informed decision-making in advanced kidney disease.

Nwamaka Denise Eneanya, MD, MPH

Dr. Eneanya is a clinical investigator with research interests that center on palliative care, informed decision making and racial disparities among patients with advanced chronic kidney disease and end-stage kidney disease. Her work has been supported by NIDDK (K23 career development award and loan repayment program), NIMHD (loan repayment program), and the American Society of Nephrology.

Harold Feldman, MD, MSCE

Harold Feldman, MD, MSCE is the George S. Pepper Professor of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, a Professor of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Medicine (Renal Electrolyte and Hypertension Division), and Medicine in Pediatrics, and the Director of Penn’s Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics (CCEB). Among his numerous national leadership roles, Dr. Feldman leads NIH's Chronic Renal Insufficiency Cohort Study (CRIC), the major national research effort making fundamental insights into the epidemiology, management, and outcomes of chronic kidney disease. Under his leadership, the CRIC Study has discovered numerous findings with great promise to advance the development of novel therapies to reduce morbidity in this population worldwide. Dr. Feldman also leads NIDDK's Hemodialysis Fistula Maturation Cohort Study and the Coordinating Center of its Chronic Kidney Disease Biomarkers Consortium.  Dr. Feldman is also the Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of Kidney Diseases, the highest ranked nephrology subspecialty journal devoted to clinical research and education.

Simin Goral, MD

Simin Goral, MD is the Director of Renal Transplant Fellowship and the Director of the PKD (Polycystic Kidney Disease) clinic at Penn. She has research interests in the areas of polycystic kidney disease, diabetic nephropathy, sensitization due to transplant nephrectomy, recurrent diseases such as lupus nephritis and FSGS after kidney transplantation, and BK infection after kidney transplantation. In her outpatient practice, she sees patients with PKD as well as patients for kidney transplant evaluation and patients after kidney transplantation (kidney transplant recipients). Dr. Goral has been the Principal Investigator and Co-investigator in numerous completed as well as ongoing clinical trials, including studies in PKD patients, patients with history of FSGS, and patients with proteinuria and chronic kidney disease. She has authored numerous articles in various journals and is a  presenter at many national and international meetings.

Lawrence Holzman, MD

Lawrence Holzman, MD is a C. Mahlon Kline Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Renal-Electrolyte and Hypertension Division at the University of Pennsylvania. His clinical research work focuses on glomerular diseases of the kidney. These are a large group of rare diseases that in aggregate account for a large fraction of patients whose kidney disease ultimately results in kidney loss, requiring dialysis or transplantation. Dr. Holzman co-founded NEPTUNE, an international consortium of academic medical centers for the clinical investigation of patients presenting with nephrotic syndrome, including patients with steroid-resistant nephrotic syndrome, focal and segmental glomerulosclerosis and membranous nephropathy. This organization conducts an NIH-sponsored multi-year longitudinal observational study that is following a large number of patients with glomerular disease, collecting clinical data and biological samples that should allow a comprehensive understanding of these diseases. By applying a variety of scientific approaches including genetics, systems biology, biomarker discover and validation, and epidemiology NEPTUNE expects to make rapid progress during the coming few years. By participating as a principal investigator in a newly created NIH-supported consortium called CureGN, Dr. Holzman is helping lead a second complementary national consortium studying glomerular disease.

Yonghong Huan, MD

Dr. Huan has research interests in hypertension, chronic kidney disease and vascular access. She is a board certified Nephrologist and a certified Hypertension Specialist by the American Society of Hypertension. She is involved in the two NIH sponsored SPRINT and CRIC studies. She is also the site PI for a study that uses a novel agent aimed to improve the clinical outcomes of vascular access.

Dan Negoianu, MD

Dr. Negoianu is a member of the steering committee of the AVOID-HF trial. This a national multicenter trial that plans to enroll 800 patients hospitalized for heart failure and fluid overload. The trial will compare fluid removal with an ultrafiltration machine (also sometimes called an aquapheresis machine) versus fluid removal via loop diuretics (the class of medications typically used to treat fluid overload). The primary outcome of the study consists of the rate of both hospital re-admissions and unscheduled treatments for fluid overload in the first 90 days after discharge.

Peter Reese, MD, MSCE

Peter Reese, MD, MSCE is an NIH-funded transplant nephrologist and epidemiologist. His research focuses on: a) developing effective strategies to increase access to kidney transplantation; b) improving the process of selecting and caring for living kidney donors; c) determining outcomes of health policies on vulnerable populations with renal disease, including the elderly; d) testing strategies to improve important health behaviors such as medication adherence; and e) transplant ethics. He is the recipient of a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers at the White House. He is a past chair of the Ethics Committee for the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), which oversees organ allocation and transplant regulation in the U.S. and is an Associate Editor for the American Journal of Kidney Diseases. He co-leads multiple pilot trials of transplantation using hepatitis C-infected organs from deceased donors into uninfected recipients, for which his group received the Innovation Award from the American Society of Transplantation.

Dr. Reese has written specifically about the ethical implications of accepting live kidney donors with risk factors for kidney disease, outcomes for living donors and individuals declined for donation, the effects of organ allocation policy on vulnerable subgroups including children and the elderly, and better strategies to promote the careful use of higher-risk organs.

Dr. Reese's mission encompasses energetic support of talented and motivated young researchers at all stages of training.

Dr. Reese's research support has included funds generously provided by:

  • The National Institutes of Health
  • A T. Franklin Williams Award in geriatric research (co-sponsored by the Association of Specialty Professors and the American Society of Nephrology) to examine the effects of emerging organ allocation proposals on older kidney transplant candidates
  • The American Society of Transplantation to study outcomes among older live kidney donors

A Greenwall Faculty Scholars Grant to examine the ethical implications of novel methods to increase organ donor registration 

Additional information about Dr. Reese's current research can be found here.

Michael Rudnick, MD, FACP

Dr. Michael Rudnick is an internationally recognized expert on Acute Kidney Injury from contrast media. In addition, Dr. Rudnick is interested in the relationship between heart failure and renal function, so-called Cardiorenal Syndrome, and has published several papers in this area including the effect of artificial hearts (left ventricular assist devices) on the kidney. Finally, Dr. Rudnick is investigating a possible relationship between a specific group of laxatives called PEGs (polyethylene glycol) and acute kidney injury.

Raymond Townsend, MD

Raymond Townsend, MD, is a Professor of Medicine and an Associate Director of the Clinical and Translational Research Center at the University of Pennsylvania. He performs research in the role of vascular compliance in CKD, progression and incident CVD events in CKD. He is PI for the Philadelphia Center of the Chronic Renal Insufficiency Cohort (CRIC) study. He is the Director of the Penn Hypertension Center, an ASH-certified Level 1 Hypertension Center, and was the AHA Physician of the Year awardee for 2016. Dr. Townsend's NCBI Bibliography.

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