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Active Faculty

Joseph Abdelmalek, M.D.
HS Clinical Associate Professor, UC San Diego
Residency: UC San Diego
Fellowship: UC San Diego
Why nephrology? It’s the perfect blend of medicine and math. Every clinical problem has a logical solution. Nephrologists don’t just look at what’s wrong, we explain how things came to be.
What I like about my work: Being able to work with residents and fellows as we contribute to the care of patients across all settings including the ICU, the ward, and the dialysis unit. I feel privileged to have the opportunity to work with wonderful colleagues who are all dedicated to learning.
Interests: Electrolytes, Hemodialysis
Clinical Profile   Research Profile
Tomasz Beben, M.D.
HS Clinical Associate Professor, UC San Diego
Residency: UC San Diego
Fellowship: UC San Diego
Why nephrology? I have always enjoyed the physiology, chemistry, and math that form the basis of this field. I am interested in the systems that our bodies use to maintain homeostasis, the problems that arise when these systems fail, and the creative solutions that we employ to compensate for these problems.
What I like about my work: I greatly enjoy figuring out complicated cases while working with colleagues, fellows, residents, and medical students across many settings, ranging from the ICU to outpatient clinics. I enjoy the breadth of my work, which includes management of acute kidney injury, various forms of glomerulonephritis, acute and chronic dialysis, electrolyte problems, and immunosuppression in kidney transplant.
Interests: Electrolytes, Geriatrics, Transplant
Clinical Profile   Research Profile
Alexander L. Bullen, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine, UC San Diego
Residency: University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio-RAHC
Fellowship: UC San Diego
Why nephrology? Diversity of care from chronic kidney disease to dialysis, apheresis, and critically ill patients with acute kidney injury. I also like the challenge this field poses.
What I like about my work: Being able to contribute to the care of critically ill patients, establishing relationships with patients as well as making discoveries to improve the care of patients with kidney disease and interacting with experts in the field.
Interests: Assessment of risk of acute kidney injury and renal recovery.
Clinical Profile   Research Webpage
Dinna N. Cruz, M.D., MPH
HS Clinical Professor, UC San Diego
Residency: Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX
Fellowship: Yale University
Why nephrology? I always found numbers very interesting, and nephrology has the best ones: electrolyte and acid-base abnormalities, biomarkers, dialysis dose and adequacy.
What I like about my work: Teaching/mentor medical trainees, as well as learning from them; learning from great colleagues; helping support critically ill patients with extracorporeal therapies.
Interests: Acute kidney injury, CRRT, extracorporeal therapies.
Clinical Profile   Research Profile
Robyn Cunard, M.D.
HS Clinical Professor, UC San Diego
Residency: UC San Diego
Fellowship: UC San Diego
Why nephrology? I love mystery novels and puzzles and each patient is a mix of both. I am a number person and am intrigued by the many different numbers we follow in nephrology.
What I like about my work: I enjoy looking after patients who have many challenges, and trying to support them through their trying times. I worked for half of my career as a basic science researcher and I like to see the links from basic science to clinical medicine.
Interests: Glomerular disease, nephrolithiasis and any water sport.
Clinical Profile   Research Profile
Pranav Garimella, M.D., MPH
Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine, UC San Diego
Residency: Cook County Health
Fellowship: Tufts Medical Center
Why nephrology? The interaction between the kidneys, vasculature, blood pressure and electrolytes make nephrology the specialty closest to internal medicine and allows me to care for the whole patient rather than just individual organ systems. Further, I can participate in critical care, inpatient/outpatient consultations and dialysis care which in unique to the field.
What I like about my work: I have a great set of colleagues who often inspire me to do better. Clinical nephrology is both intriguing and challenging, and there are abundant research opportunities, some of which I currently work on. I get to mentor and teach medical students, residents and fellows and enjoy their successes. Being there for patients when they need you, that’s what ultimately matters to me.
Interests: Polycystic kidney disease, vascular disease in CKD and dialysis
Clinical Profile   Research Profile   Research Webpage
Charles Ginsberg, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine, UC San Diego
Residency: Barnes Jewish Hospital-Washington University School of Medicine
Fellowship: UC San Diego
Why nephrology? I got the nephrology bug early on. As a first year med student I enjoyed learning the physiology of the kidney and using concrete numbers and ideas to help diagnose and treat patients with disorders of the kidney. As I moved on in my training I learned more about research in nephrology and the complicated kidney-bone-vascular axis. This blend of clinical and research interests led me to choose nephrology.
Interests: Bone-mineral disease aspects of kidney disease.
Clinical Profile   Research Profile   Research Webpage
Chris Hasegawa, PA-C
Certified Physician Assistant, UC San Diego
PA Program: University of Southern California
Why nephrology? The kidney is an unsung vital organ that has so many functions many people don’t realize and it’s fascinating to see how it coordinates its job with the rest of the systems. There’s so much to learn about this one organ and it continues to amaze me.
What I like about my work: I get the opportunity to really know the patients and to develop relationships with them towards optimizing their care. I get to do this with the guidance from a great team of nephrologists and colleagues who are eager to teach and help me grow and learn as a provider.
Margaret Ivanov, M.D.
Assistant Physician, UC San Diego
Residency: Thomas Jefferson University Hospital
Fellowship: UC San Diego
Why nephrology? Kidney physiology is so exquisitely intricate, which translates into remarkably interesting pathophysiology and clinical syndromes. I'm a very detail-oriented person and have always been drawn to master these complexities.
What I like about my work: I enjoy the variety that nephrology offers, being able to take care of a diverse patient population in different clinical settings with a wide array of disease processes. I also enjoy the continuity of care inherent in nephrology and find it rewarding to guide patients through the various aspects of their kidney disease.
Interests: Acute kidney injury, Chronic kidney disease, Glomerulonephritis, Electrolyte abnormalities, Urine microscopy.
Clinical Profile
Joachim H. Ix, M.D., MAS
Chief, Division of Nephrology-Hypertension
Vice Chair for Strategic Affairs, Department of Medicine
Professor, UC San Diego
Staff Physician, VA San Diego
Residency: UC San Francisco
Fellowship: UC San Francisco
Why nephrology? I had terrific mentors in nephrology as a medical student, and again in residency. As a resident, I became fascinated by the overlap between kidney and cardiovascular disease, and thought I could make more of an impact coming at these problems with the training and insight of a nephrologist rather than a cardiologist. There are so many clinical problems where my research and ideas could influence clinical practice in nephrology, which I found really appealing.
What I like about my work: My current position involves research, patient care, administration, and teaching. I like each of these for different reasons, but ultimately, the best part of the job is the variety each day brings. I might write an abstract in the early morning, see patients in clinic until noon, interview a faculty candidate in the afternoon, and have a teaching session with a fellow in the evening. Each hour provides something different, each with unique challenges.
Interests: Mineral metabolism, kidney related bone disease, biomarkers, characterization of kidney tubule dysfunction and injury.
Clinical Profile  Research Profile   Research Webpage
Moussa Jabbour, M.D.
HS Clinical Assistant Professor
Residency: NYU School of Medicine- Brooklyn campus
Fellowship: Nephrology-UC San Diego; Transplant Nephrology-UC San Diego
Why nephrology? My love for nephrology started during residency. I was fascinated by the renal physiology and solving acid-base problems.
What I like about my work: I enjoy working with medical students, residents and fellows across various settings. Also being able to transition patients off dialysis and continuing to care for them post transplant is very rewarding as well.
Interests: Immunosuppression management, infectious complications post transplant.
Clinical Profile
Bethany E. Karl, D.O.
Medical Director, UC San Diego Hemodialysis Unit
Medical Director, UC San Diego Urgent Start Peritoneal Dialysis
HS Clinical Associate Professor, UC San Diego
Residency: UC San Diego
Fellowship: UC San Diego
Why nephrology? Best mentors during my medical school and residency! Diverse specialty combining all my loves of physiology, critical care medicine, continuity of care for patients with chronic disease and educating others.
What I like about my work: Variety of patient care, working with my patients to find health, teaching patients and colleagues, collaborating with other physicians to optimize patient care and constantly learning.
Interests: Dialysis, home therapies, medical ethics, diabetic kidney disease, lupus nephritis
Clinical Profile   Research Profile
Adnan Khan, M.D.
HS Clinical Assistant Professor, UC San Diego
Residency: St Louis University School of Medicine
Fellowship: Nephrology - David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA/ LA County - Harbor UCLA Medical Center; Transplant Nephrology - Stanford University School of Medicine
Why nephrology? I believe that the kidneys are the 'smartest organs' in the body and nothing is more fascinating than, trying to understand the intricacies of the kidney. It is a very intellectually satisfying specialty; dealing with the complexities of the immune system, acid-base disorders, and electrolyte imbalances. Being a nephrologist; one also gets the opportunity to care for the most diverse and complex set of patients.
What I like about my work: I cherish my job of transitioning patients from dialysis towards transplant and enjoy the happy side of nephrology. I enjoy working with our multidisciplinary transplant team; and I think abdominal transplant is one of those rare areas where the surgeons and the physicians have a very collegial relationship and actually agree on most of the things!!
Interests: ABO incompatible transplants, BK virus nephropathy, Hep C donor transplants
Clinical Profile   Research Profile
Jennifer LeJeune, PA-C
Certified Physician Assistant, UC San Diego
PA Program: A. T. Still University, Arizona School of Health Sciences. Masters of Physician Assistant Studies
Why nephrology? My background working in kidney transplant sparked my interest in kidney disease/failure.
What I like about my work: What I like best about my work is getting to know my patients. Those with kidney disease have to modify many of their habits to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This means learning about patient interests. Finding out what motivates them plays a huge part in helping make the changes necessary to go on living life as normal as possible.
Interests: The outdoors; camping, running. Sports; playing basketball, swimming, biking, hiking. Travel. Spending time with my family and sweet dog, Daisy.
Etienne Macedo, M.D.
Adjunct Assistant Professor, UC San Diego
Residency: University of Sao Paulo, Brazil
Fellowship: University of Sao Paulo, Brazil
Why nephrology? I have always been intrigued by the science of kidney disease and the technology of dialysis. I had passionate and talented role models and mentors during my residency and fellowship who inspired me to want to learn and research in this field.
What I like about my work: There are many facets of my work that I enjoy and are fulfilling. Each patient is a unique challenge that keeps the work stimulating. It is both an honor and a pleasure to be present for the patients and to help teach students. I enjoy the diversity of the work: transplant or CKD patients at clinic, ICU patients in CRRT and those in chronic dialysis.
Interests: Assessment of kidney function, Acute kidney injury, CRRT and renal recovery.
Clinical Profile   Research Profile   Research Webpage
Sushil K. Mahata, Ph.D.
Adjunct Professor, UC San Diego
Training: Comparative Endocrinology at the University of Calcutta, Kolkata, India
Why nephrology? I have been working on hypertension in Chromogranin A and Catestatin knockout mice. Since kidney plays crucial roles in the development of hypertension I'm associated with the Division of Nephology.
What I like about my work: UCSD is a great place for collaborative research. I have been collaborating with many scientists belonging to different Divisions and Departments at UCSD.
Interests: My research interests include the following: Hypertension, Obesity, Insulin resistance, Immunometabolism, Gut motility, Gut barrier function and ultrastructural biology.
Research Profile   Research Webpage
Rakesh Malhotra, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine, UC San Diego
Residency: Rutgers New Jersey Medical Center
Fellowship: Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Why nephrology? Many people look back in time to find the moment of their initial inspiration. For me this moment was when pursuing MPH, I was fortunate enough to become acquainted with Dr. Ravi Mehta at UCSD and later Dr. Peter Kotanko at Renal Research Institute, New York. Working with these world-renowned investigators introduced me to the vast world of ongoing research in the field of nephrology, investigating new topics, treatments, and techniques in the diagnosis of kidney disorders. During residency, I found clinical nephrology to be scientific, analytical and intellectually stimulating. I fell in love with nephrology and what started as a passion became a lifelong ambition.
What I like about my work: I like the combination of research, clinical responsibilities and engagement in the training and education of the next generation of doctors.
Interests: Acute kidney injury, biomarkers, and dialysis.
Research Profile   Research Webpage
Cynthia M. Miracle, M.D.
Fellowship Program Director, UC San Diego
HS Clinical Professor of Medicine, UC San Diego
Renal Clinic Director, VA San Diego
Staff Physician, VA San Diego
Course Director, Clinical Transitions Week, UC San Diego School of Medicine
Co-creator/co-director NBLU (Nephrology Business Leadership University)
Residency: Long Island Jewish Medical Center
Fellowship: UC San Diego
Why nephrology? It is the field that has it all. Daily use of physiology, long term connections with patients, ability to work with a multi-disciplinary team, and perfect balance of outpatient and inpatient medicine.
What I like about my work: I enjoy doing my clinical work for all the reasons listed above. Between seeing patients at UC San Diego and the VA I encounter the full scope of nephrology. There is always something new to learn. It is wonderful to be at an academic center as it allows for me to interact with students, residents and fellows. In addition, there are so many opportunities to challenge yourself. As the TPD I enjoy constantly trying to improve the program and ensure our fellows are getting the best experience.
Interests: Medical Education
Clinical Profile   Research Profile
Amanda Mohamed, PA-C
Certified Physician Assistant, UC San Diego
PA Program: Towson University/CCBC-Essex physician assistant program
Why nephrology? During my clinical rotations as a PA student I was always intrigued with the diverse range of medicine in nephrology. I was drawn to the profession by the complexities of acid/base disorders, electrolyte abnormalities, and volume status. Nephrology is a field where you can significantly improve the lives of patients through life-saving procedures such as dialysis and kidney transplants.
What I like about my work: As a Nephrology PA, I have many patients who I care for over a very long period of time. This continuity of care is important to me and for the quality of care provided to my patients.
Interests: Chronic kidney disease, acute kidney injury, and dialysis. Personal- traveling, hiking, weight training, and spending time with friends and family.
Scott R. Mullaney, M.D., MBA
Clinical Service Chief- Nephrology
Associate Dean for CME and Faculty Teaching Development
HS Clinical Professor, UC San Diego
Residency: University of Alabama Birmingham
Fellowship: UC San Diego
Why nephrology? Seduced by the physiology and complexity of the nephron. In medical school and residency I had great mentors with a passion for understanding and teaching the why and how of kidney pathology while always focusing on the patients and their needs. Would also be lying if I didn't mention the math, I do like math.
What I like about my work: A day that starts by providing collaborative care in the ICU for patients with complex multi-organ disease, teaching residents why the water and each sodium (and potassium) went as it did as they struggle with hyponatremia and ends rounding in the outpatient dialysis unit and seeing a patient I have known for more 15 years and seen through many stages of life to discuss their upcoming transplant.
Interests: Acute kidney injury, CRRT, electrolyte abnormalities, healthcare systems, patient-centric care
Clinical Profile   Research Profile
Janice Park, M.D.
HS Clinical Assistant Professor, UC San Diego Division of Hospital Medicine
Residency: UC Davis
Fellowship: UC San Diego
Why nephrology? I was fortunate to have early clinical exposure to nephrology as a medical student and I've been interested ever since. Renal physiology is fascinating. I feel that if you understand what the kidneys are doing, you can explain much of what the body is doing also. I'm grateful my nephrology training has made me a better overall physician.
What I like about my work: I get to experience the full spectrum of nephrology, meaning both outpatient and inpatient practice, chronic long-term dialysis, and apheresis. I have great colleagues and am always learning something new. It has been a very meaningful experience to build a long-term relationship with my patients in clinic and outpatient dialysis and exciting when I see them respond to treatment. I also get to work with fellows, residents, and medical students and it's always fun to teach them something new and see them grow as clinicians.
Interests: Everything, with an emphasis on inpatient nephrology.
Research Profile
O. Alison Potok, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine, UC San Diego
Residency: Pennsylvania Hospital, University of Pennsylvania Health System, Philadelphia PA
Fellowship: UC San Diego
Why nephrology? I had amazing mentors during residency, who made me discover how fascinating nephrology is. It is a specialty somewhat similar to internal medicine in the sense that we get to see patients of all ages, with a wide variety of diseases, that affect many organs other than the kidneys. And also, spinning urine is really cool.
What I like about my work: I like that it has many different aspects. I enjoy building a long term relationship with dialysis patients and clinic patients. I like caring for sick patients in the ICU, being able to provide a life saving therapy. I have been amazed to witness how pheresis can help patients with neurologic diseases feel better. I enjoy the challenges of fixing someone's sodium level. And I love doing research, inspired by relevant clinical questions.
Interests: Aging, Chronic Kidney Disease, ESKD Risk Prediction, Geriatric Nephrology
Clinical Profile
Dena E. Rifkin, M.D., MS
Clinical Foundations Course Co-Director, School of Medicine
Course Director, Renal Pathophysiology, School of Medicine
Adjunct Professor, UC San Diego
Associate Chief, Medical Service, VA San Diego
Residency: Yale New Haven Hospital
Fellowship: Tufts Medical Center
Why nephrology? I had amazing residency mentors who were thorough internists as well as subspecialist experts. I was fortunate to work with research mentors during fellowship who asked relevant clinical questions and found ways to improve clinical care with data driven approaches.
What I like about my work: I engage in clinical work at the Veterans' Affairs Medical Center, I conduct research on clinical care for hypertension and kidney disease, and I teach and lead courses at the medical school. Being in academics makes me happy because I enjoy being challenged to learn and I enjoy watching students transform into leaders and experts in their own fields.
Interests: Hypertension, care of older adults with kidney disease.
Research Profile   Research Webpage
Tamara Rubenzik, M.D.
Medical Director, Chronic Kidney Disease Clinic, UC San Diego
HS Clinical Assistant Professor, UC San Diego
Residency: UC San Diego
Fellowship: Nephrology at UC San Diego; Hospice and Palliative Medicine at UC San Diego/Scripps
Why nephrology? I was drawn to nephrology during residency due to the breadth and depth of the field. I learned from attending nephrologists who worked in the clinic, the dialysis unit, and the hospital caring for patients with a spectrum of kidney diseases, electrolyte disturbances, and acid base disorders. I found it all fascinating, and I loved the math.
What I like about my work: I work in clinical nephrology and palliative care at UC San Diego. With my unique position in both departments, I have the opportunity to build a renal supportive care clinic to provide symptom management and advance care planning support to patients with kidney disease and to teach these skills to the next generation of nephrologists.
Interests: Chronic kidney disease, end stage renal disease, renal palliative care
Clinical Profile  Research Profile
Amber Paratore Sanchez, M.D.
Medical Director, Therapeutic Apheresis Unit, UC San Diego
HS Clinical Associate Professor, UC San Diego
Residency: UC San Diego
Fellowship: UC San Diego
Why nephrology? I was drawn to nephrology as a medical student upon learning how intimately the kidneys are tied to the other organ systems of the body - from the regulation of blood pressure and anemia, to the interplay of the kidneys with bone health, to electrolyte and pH balance, to the critical balance of volume status when it comes to the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems. It is a field in which you can be a specialist, yet you still must have a thorough understanding of the whole patient.
What I like about my work: I enjoy the management of complex medical conditions and the long term relationships I establish with my patients in clinic, dialysis, and in apheresis, many of whom I have now seen regularly for over 10 years. I have always enjoyed the diversity the field offers to me, from caring for the "stable" clinic patient to the critically ill in the ICU setting. In nephrology, I enjoy teaching medical students, residents and fellows, but I also love the challenge of being a life-long learner myself, and the interactions with my expert colleagues in the field, both locally and internationally.
Interests: Clinical: apheresis, glomerulonephritis, vascular access, hypertension, and chronic kidney disease management Non-clinical: nature, travel, music, and raising good humans
Clinical Profile   Research Profile
Michael Sanchez, PA-C
Certified Physician Assistant, UC San Diego
PA Program: MCPHS University, Boston
Why nephrology? I became interested in nephrology while working in acute care with a hospitalist service. I found it interesting how the kidney impacts so many other body systems, and how important it is to take kidney function into consideration when making treatment decisions. I wanted to continue to expand my understanding and be able to apply this daily.
What I like about my work: The everyday challenge of figuring out individual treatment plans and assisting with care for a variety of systems. Additionally, it is rewarding to be an advocate and support for my patients.
Interests: CKD and Hemodialysis. Nonclinical: Surfing, Scuba diving and Hiking.
Mita M. Shah, M.D.
Medical Director of Transplant Nephrology
Associate Medical Director of Lifesharing
HS Clinical Professor, UC San Diego
Residency: Oregon Health and Sciences University
Fellowship: UC San Diego
Why nephrology? I was always fascinated by the physiology of the kidney and had wonderful mentors who showed me that nephrology is fun. I really enjoy the diversity of the patient population as well as the diversity of settings in which we practice from stable chronic outpatient dialysis to ICU level care.
What I like about my work: As a transplant nephrologist I get to see one of the happy sides of nephrology, getting someone off dialysis! I love the multidisciplinary transplant team and caring for patients from the time of transplant to sometimes 40 years later. Transplant medicine not only involves knowing nephrology but also understanding immunology, some surgery, ethics and politics. It's really a fun subspecialty.
Interests: Kidney allocation, novel immunosuppression, accessibility to transplant, recurrent disease post-transplant.
Clinical Profile  Research Profile
Prabhleen Singh, M.D., MPH
Associate Professor in Residence, UC San Diego
Residency: University of Alabama, Birmingham and UC San Diego
Fellowship: UC San Diego
Why nephrology? It was a tough choice between nephrology and critical care, the commonality being the emphasis on underlying physiological principles applied to patient care. Nephrology won due to the variety in patient population and clinical settings, from acute episodic care for AKI in the ICU to the long-term association with patients with CKD, ESRD and renal transplant in the outpatient setting.
What I like about my work: Being a physician-scientist, I enjoy the diversity of things I get to do in my career. From lab meetings to discuss the exciting results of an experiment, staffing clinics or rounds with fellows and residents, teaching renal physiology to medical students- occasionally all in the same day-makes for a dynamic and fulfilling day at work.
Interests: Professional- Acute Kidney Injury, Chronic Kidney Disease, Mitochondria, Metabolism; Personal- Paddleboarding, Biking, Cooking
Research Profile   Research Webpage
Natalie Sweiss, M.D., FASN
Medical Director, Nephrology Clinics, UC San Diego
Medical Director, Dialysis Services, VA San Diego
HS Clinical Assistant Professor, UC San Diego
Residency: Scripps Clinic/Scripps Green Hospital
Fellowship: UC San Diego
Why nephrology? I love the detective work in nephrology. It can be from finding out why things occurred to what can be the most beneficial to the patient’s health and outcome. This is true for all aspects of nephrology in the clinic, in the ICU or in the dialysis unit.
What I like about my work: The patients make it fun, the numbers make it interesting. My patients come from all walks of life and learning ways to appreciate their life circumstances only allows me to care for them better. The numbers – Cr, urine protein, electrolytes, acid levels, blood pressure, etc. – all come together to give us a comprehensive picture of what is happening in the body and what we can potentially correct.
Interests: Chronic kidney disease, ESRD, HTN, GN, apheresis, my kids (not in any particular order)
Clinical Profile   Research Profile
Helen Tesfai, PA-C
Certified Physician Assistant, UC San Diego
PA Program: Western University of Health Sciences
Why nephrology? After working in primary/urgent care settings as well as diabetes research, the field of nephrology piqued my interest as so much of the patient population I normally worked with were affected by kidney related disease/failure.
What I like about my work: What I enjoy most about my work is having the ability to get to know my patients beyond a medical setting. Being able to understand and build a rapport with patients is necessary to help encourage changes/improvements in their daily lives that will ultimately lead to a healthier, better quality of life.
Interests: Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis. Personal interests include traveling, reading, and spending time with family and friends.
Scott C. Thomson, M.D.
Professor in Residence, UC San Diego
Residency: UC San Diego
Fellowship: UC San Diego
Why nephrology? During residency, I expressed to our Department Chair an interest in medical problems that are amenable to the concise logic of physics and engineering. That led to a physician- scientist grant to learn renal micropuncture in the UCSD laboratory of Roland Blantz, where I have remained since 1986.
What I like about my work: Not being forced to abandon medicine for science or science for medicine.
Interests: Glomerular hemodynamics, glomerulotubular balance, tubuloglomerular feedback, broad-based clinical practice in the clinic, dialysis unit, hospital ward, ICU, and emergency department. Outside of work, I play traditional Irish music sessions around town and ride cow horses.
Clinical Profile   Research Profile   Research Webpage
Sucheta Vaingankar, Ph.D.
Director, O’Brien Biomarkers Core Laboratory
Adjunct Associate Professor, UC San Diego
Training:Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India
Interests: Using a functional genomics approach, my lab studies genes involved in the pathophysiology of complex human traits of hypertension and kidney disease. Our study emphasis is on genes that regulate blood pressure and display genetic associations with cardiovascular and kidney disease traits. We study the granin family of genes and have focused on chromogranin A, the index member of this family and the hypotensive hormonal peptide catestatin derived by its proteolysis. In chronic kidney disease (CKD), a more proximate biological phenotype is diminished expression of catestatin whereas increased chromogranin A levels are associated with worse renal function and fibrosis in experimental CKD models. The long-term goal of this work is to identify novel therapeutic targets which are antihypertensive and renoprotective.
Research Profile
Volker Vallon, M.D.
Director, Renal Physiology, O’Brien Core Center for Acute Kidney Injury Research
Course co-Director, Renal Physiology, School of Medicine, UC San Diego
Professor in Residence of Medicine and Pharmacology, UC San Diego
Residency: Pharmacology, University of Tübingen, Germany
Fellowship: Nephrology Research, UC San Diego; Pharmacology, University of Tübingen.
Why nephrology? The first lab I started to work in to gain research experience after finishing Medical School was a renal micropuncture lab at the University of Tübingen. I readily became fascinated by the complex anatomy and physiology of the glomeruli and the tubular and collecting duct system and their role in body homeostasis and the handling of endogenous and exogenous compounds. And it is amazing how much there still is to discover and understand about the inner workings of the kidneys.
What I like about my work: As a basic science researcher I enjoy exploring new ideas related to the physiology, pathophysiology and pharmacotherapy of the kidney and collaborating with experts in the field in academia and industry. As a teacher and mentor I have the privilege to interact with talented students and young scientists.
Interests: My lab aims to better understand the integrative physiology of the kidney as well as the pathophysiology of the diabetic kidney and its links to acute kidney injury and chronic renal failure.
Research Profile   Research Webpage
Tyler Woodell, M.D.
Medical Director, UC San Diego Hemodialysis Community Outreach
HS Clinical Assistant Professor, UC San Diego
Residency: UC San Diego
Fellowship: Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU)
Why nephrology? Having amazing clinician educators and mentors throughout my training who showed me how wonderful nephrology is. I love the physiology and applying these physiologic principles to clinical care of patients with kidney disease while remaining grounded in internal medicine.
What I like about my work: The variety. Being in nephrology allows me to see patients in clinics, dialysis units, and ICUs over a short period of time. I also like working with students, residents, and fellows in these settings - their questions constantly challenge me to keep reading!
Interests: Acid-base, glomerular disease, dialysis
Clinical Profile  Research Profile
Francis Gabbai, M.D.
Vice Chair, Department of Medicine, UC San Diego
Professor Emeritus, UC San Diego
Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology, UC San Diego
Residency: Internal Medicine, Instituto Nacional de la Nutricion Salvador Zubiran, Mexico DF
Fellowship: Internal Medicine, Instituto Nacional de la Nutricion Salvador Zubiran, Mexico DF
Why nephrology? Started doing hypertension research as part of my community service as an undergrad. During that year, I was exposed not only to hypertension research but also many other areas including renal stones, diabetes. This in depth exposure to Nephrology generated a great interest in further pursuing Nephrology as a career
What I like about my work: In depth, pathophysiologic and holistic management of patients with hypertension and renal disease
Interests: ABPM, AKI, DM and experimental models of renal disease.
Research Profile
Carolyn J. Kelly, M.D.
former Associate Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs, UC San Diego
Professor Emeritus, UC San Diego
Residency: University of Pennsylvania
Fellowship: University of Pennsylvania
Why nephrology? I was fortunate to be taught by a number of nephrologists as a medical student and resident. Their analytic approaches and critical thinking resonated with my approach to medicine and patient care. I entered nephrology with an investigative interest in better understanding injury mechanisms of immune-mediated kidney disease, a nascent field in the early 1980's.
What I like about my work: I enjoyed the diverse activities of a career in academic medicine. It was remarkable to be able to do clinical work, research, teaching, and, later in my career, administration in medical education. Working with trainees at many levels was gratifying for me. In retirement, I continue to teach medical students, and advise students interested in careers in medicine.
Interests: Outside of medicine, I enjoy hiking, swimming, reading, cooking, gardening, and crochet.
Research Profile
Ravindra L. Mehta, M.D.
Professor Emeritus, UC San Diego
Residency: University of Rochester in Rochester New York
Fellowship: University of Rochester in Rochester New York
Why nephrology? I was attracted to nephrology during my residency in India watching my mentor Dr Kirpal S Chugh who was one of the first nephrologists in the country, demonstrate his broad based knowledge of physiology, internal medicine, problem solving and the critical thinking skills in managing patients. Dialysis was provided only to a few patients with ESKD and mainly for AKI and living related transplant was feasible for only a few. Training in India and subsequently in the US convinced me I had made the right choice as the specialty was one of the few that required me retain and build my skills as an internist and enhance them with more in depth knowledge, discovery and research. My clinical experience has taught me that you never stop learning as a nephrologist.
What I like about my work: The ability to continuously learn, innovate and mature as a clinician scientist collaborating with colleagues in intensive care, nephrology and data science from across the world. I have had the privilege of working with brilliant scientists, compassionate physicians, supportive nursing and pharmacy colleagues and most of all my patients all of whom have taught me the value of caring, building and maintaining relationships and continuous learning. The rich environment at UCSD has enabled me to pursue entrepreneurship and I have established a startup company focusing on predictive analytics for optimizing extracorporeal organ support applications in critically ill patients.
Interests: Although I am not clinically active, I continue to direct the Masters in Clinical Research Program, organize an annual conference on AKI and CRRT techniques and participate in several ongoing research studies in AKI and critical care nephrology. I am developing algorithms to improve patient care in the ICU that I hope to deploy in the near future. I enjoy travel, walking, reading, spending time with family and friends and am working on reducing my golf handicap.
Research Profile   Research Webpage
Robert J. Parmer, M.D.
Professor Emeritus, UC San Diego
Residency: UC San Diego
Fellowship: UC San Diego
Why nephrology? The wide variety of cases and disease processes that we see (e.g., AKI, CKD, fluid and electrolyte disorders, hemodialysis, CRRT, renal transplantation, essential and secondary forms of hypertension, renal stone disease, glomerular disorders, renal cystic disease).
What I like about my work: Being able to combine clinical work, teaching and research. Working closely with students, residents, fellows, postdocs, and colleagues both in the clinics and in the lab.
Interests: Clinical- Diagnosis and management of essential and secondary forms of hypertension, acute and chronic kidney disease, diabetic nephropathy, hemodialysis, general and ICU nephrology; Research- The plasminogen activation system and its role in sympathoadrenal, renal, adipose, and immune function; functional roles of the plasminogen receptor, Plg-RKT.
Research Profile   Research Webpage
Robert W. Steiner, M.D.
Professor Emeritus, UC San Diego
Residency: Cambridge City Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital
Fellowship: Massachusetts General Hospital, UC San Diego with Dr. Roland Blantz
Why nephrology? I like fluid and electrolytes, clearances, and other basic physiology and the logical way that it must be approached. Teaching and learning in that area can be challenging, but it is essential material for every competent nephrologist. I find caring for renal patients inspiring. Specializing in transplantation in mid career has been a joy. Our tools, concepts, and outcomes have greatly improved since I trained. As more or less of a side line, I have become a specialist in living donor risk. I am active part time on the wards and in clinics and as an Associate Editor for the American Journal of Transplantation.
What I like about my work: At UCSD we continue to be a happy and productive division with gifted faculty and fellows.
Clinical Profile   Research Profile
David M. Ward, M.D.
Professor Emeritus, UC San Diego
Residency: University of Glasgow, Royal Infirmary, Glasgow, Scotland
Fellowship: Nephrology - University of Glasgow, Royal Infirmary, Glasgow, Scotland; Renal Immunopathology - The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California
Why nephrology? The top intellectual specialty, underpinned by more different types of basic science than any other, yet in practice the home of the greatest general internists.
What I like about my work: Although in large part retired, I still relish the unique diversity of nephrology practice, from the wonderful long-term patient relationships to the most acute ICU interactions, and from common things like hypertension to the most complex multisystem challenges. And I love teaching at all levels, and the friendship of brilliant and compassionate colleagues.
Interests: The pathogenesis of glomerulonephritic diseases. Immunological therapies, including apheresis modalities. Lecturing nationally and internationally. Discoveries in all branches of science. Travel, and exploration of the world's wild places. Wildlife photography, and wildlife conservation. Mountaineering, backpacking and skiing. Competitive rowing at national championship level. Writing and puzzle-making. Orchestral music. My family, friends and grandchildren.
Clinical Profile   Research Profile
Michael G. Ziegler, M.D.
Professor Emeritus, UC San Diego
Residency: University of Kansas, University of Chicago
Fellowship: NIH Pharmacology Research Associate Training Program, Laboratory of Irwin J. Kopin and Julius Axelrod
Why nephrology? I am the non-nephrologist M.D. in the Division of Nephrology and Hypertension. I have carried out research on blood pressure control for over 40 years.
What I like about my work: My work allows a full view of blood pressure from the genome to the clinic. My research on the sympathetic nervous system gives insight into subconscious regulation of mood and the cardiovascular system that relates to normal daily activities. I generate most of my research hypotheses from observations of friends and patients so my research helps me understand the life around me both in and out of the lab.
Interests: My current research projects involve regulation of the cardiovascular system and kidneys in zero gravity. We use astronaut subjects as well as ground based models of zero gravity such as prolonged head down tilt. My second main area of interest is the effect of long-term stresses on cardiovascular and renal health. Current stress models we use are obstructive sleep apnea, caregiving for spouses with Alzheimer’s disease and stress reduction exercises in vulnerable populations. For recreation I surf, ride with a local bike club (the Recyclers) and hike California mountains.
Clinical Profile   Research Profile   Research Webpage

Adult-Pediatric Nephrology Faculty

Caitlin E. Carter, M.D.
Associate Physician of Medicine and Pediatrics, UC San Diego
Residency: UC San Diego, Internal Medicine and Pediatrics
Fellowship: UC San Diego, Adult and Pediatric Nephrology
Why nephrology? I chose a career in nephrology because I wanted the depth of specialty medicine, but was not willing to sacrifice breadth. I enjoy the acute physiology of critical care nephrology just as much as I enjoy the long term care of my patients with less severe illness.
What I like about my work: There is not a day that I do not feel challenged and motivated by my colleagues, my patients, and the trainees with whom I work.
Interests: Familial kidney disease, transition of young adults with kidney disease, quality improvement, medical education.
Research Profile
Noureddin Dean Nourbakhsh, D.O.
HS Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics, UC San Diego
Residency: Stony Brook University Medical Center, Med-Peds
Fellowship: Nephrology at UC San Diego; Pediatric Nephrology at Rady Children’s Hospital, San Diego
Why nephrology? Your brain has no downtime and you are in a field with like-minded, extremely analytical people.
What I like about my work: Being in the unique position to bridge the gap between pediatric nephrology and adult nephrology from many aspects, whether practical, theoretical, social or related to transitional care.
Clinical Profile   Research Profile

Affiliate Faculty

Kamal Ahmed, M.D.
Volunteer Faculty, UC San Diego
Residency: IM Medical College of Pennsylvania, now Drexel University, Philadelphia
Fellowship: Thomas Jefferson University Philadelphia
Why nephrology? It is a discipline that covers many aspects of clinical Medicine, an emphasis on numbers, data, and ability to interact with many professionals
What I like about my work: Focusing on empathy for patients and their families, seeing their smiles and appreciation for a good effort.
Interests: Travel, Reading, Running
Cheryl Anderson, Ph.D., MPH, MS
Dean, UC San Diego Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science
Director, Center of Excellence in Health Promotion and Equity, UC San Diego
Member, U.S. National Academy of Medicine
Chair of the American Heart Association (AHA) Council of Epidemiology and Prevention
Joint Appointment in the Department of Medicine Division of Nephrology and Hypertension, UC San Diego
Professor, UC San Diego
Training: University of Washington, Seattle
Interests: Nutrition and chronic disease prevention with a goal of equitably improving human health; including development of nutrition policy strategies for prevention of cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, and diet-related cancers; and promotion of health behavior and elimination of health disparities by personal and environmental factors.
Research Profile
Linda Awdishu, Pharm.D., MAS
Professor of Clinical Pharmacy
Chair, Division of Clinical Pharmacy
UC San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Training: BScPhm from University of Toronto, PharmD from University of Colorado, Masters of Advanced Studies in Clinical Research
Why nephrology? As a pharmacy student, I worked with dialysis patients when they filled prescriptions at the hospital discharge pharmacy and I was struck by the complexity of the medication regimen. I immediately saw the potential impact a pharmacist could have on their medication related outcomes. That sparked my interest and I went on to work as a clinical pharmacist on the inpatient nephrology ward and then created a position in the outpatient hemodialysis unit at Sunnybrook and Women’s College Health Sciences. After moving to San Diego, I have had the opportunity to create several proposals for clinical pharmacists in CKD, transplant and hemodialysis.
What I like about my work: I love working alongside nephrologists to optimize drug therapy. I feel continuously challenged by advances in the field of biomarkers for AKI, estimating kidney function, appropriately selecting and dosing medications to achieve optimal outcomes, optimizing adherence and studying how pharmacogenomics can be used to predict nephrotoxicity. I love teaching and using simulation to develop the advanced provider skills of our pharmacy trainees as well as promote interprofessional teams in healthcare.
Interests: Hiking, cycling, yoga, painting and sketching, listening to music, dancing in secret.
Research Profile   School of Pharmacy Webpage
Michael E. Baker, Ph.D.
Emeritus Research Scientist, UC San Diego
Fellowship: Stanford University and The Salk Institute
Why nephrology? Recruited by Dr. Darrell Fanestil to study the mechanism of action of aldosterone, which is the steroid that allowed amphibians to colonize land.
What I like about my work: Evolution is as much philosophy as it is science. We are a lot closer to elephant sharks than we wish to admit.
Interests: Where did we come from? How did we get here? Where are we going?
Research Profile
Maple Fung, M.D.
Volunteer Faculty, UC San Diego
Residency: UC San Diego
Fellowship: UC San Diego
Why nephrology? So intellectually challenging.
What I like about my work: Getting to work with a great group of people.
Interests: Treating serious kidney diseases, hypertension.
Haiyan Zhang, M.D., Ph.D.
HS Assistant Clinical Professor, UC San Diego Division of Anatomic Pathology
Residency: Pathology at University of Southern California, and Los Angeles County Medical Center
Fellowship: Surgical Pathology at University of Texas Medical Branch; Renal Pathology at University of Texas Health Science at Houston
Why nephrology? Unique clinical pathological correlation in renal pathology is challenging and also interesting. In addition, my previous clinical nephrology experience makes me have more common language and better communication with nephrologists.
What I like about my work: Interaction with nephrologists and transplant team, delivering the timely diagnosis, helping the treatment direction and improving patient outcome. Meeting the nephrologists and patients need is my greatest pleasure.
Interests: Diabetic nephropathy, Renal fibrosis
Research Profile