Division of Nephrology

Patient Oriented Research

Most kidney disorders are currently diagnosed based on clinical assessment alone, and late diagnosis or misclassification often causes uncertainty in identifying the etiology of kidney diseases, as well as preventing timely diagnosis and treatment. Even within traditional clinical diagnostic categories, inter-individual variation in clinical presentation, disease progression and therapeutic response has long suggested heterogeneity that may be resolved with new molecular tools. Only recently, advances in high throughput genomic, proteomic, metabolomic and data sciences have begun to provide a more precise delineation of the molecular etiologies of kidney diseases, allowing reclassification based on primary molecular pathogenesis, and sometimes enabling targeted approaches to diagnosis and therapy. These new advances emerging in basic science laboratories frequently require rigorous clinical studies to enable their translation into clinical practice. The Division of Nephrology understands the significance of providing a more precise delineation of the molecular etiologies of kidney disease and is actively engaged in such efforts. The following are those faculty members conducting patient-oriented translational research in this area:

Andrew Bomback, M.D., M.P.H. is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center. Dr. Bomback’s research interests are focused on the epidemiology and treatment of rare immune-mediated or inflammatory glomerular diseases. He is either Principal or Co-Investigator in trials evaluating new agents for lupus nephritis, membranous nephropathy, IgA nephropathy, Alport syndrome, and C3 glomerulonephritis. He is a Co-Investigator in the NIDDK-sponsored CureGN study and multi-Principal Investigator in a NIMHD-sponsored R01 grant to study the role of genetic ancestry in the epidemiology and prognosis of membranous nephropathy, IgA nephropathy, and lupus nephritis in a multi-ethnic cohort of patients.

Dr. Sumit Mohan is an associate professor of medicine & epidemiology at Columbia University. Dr. Mohan’s clinical and research career has been focused on understanding the health disparities in kidney disease with a goal of improving access to care and outcomes for patients with kidney disease – especially those with end stage kidney disease (ESKD) and kidney transplantation. His research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), the American Society of Transplantation (AST) and several foundation awards. He is the principal investigator for awards studying the application of renal replacement therapies in acute kidney injury, understanding chronic kidney disease of uncertain etiology (CKDu), improving organ donation, application of transplant genetics, ethics in transplantation, as well as improving quality metrics in ESKD and kidney transplantation. His research findings have directly informed federal policy related to reimbursement of dialysis for acute kidney injury, elimination of outcomes as a regulatory measure for transplant centers as well as efforts to lower the discard of deceased donor kidneys and improve kidney transplantation rates in the United States. His research findings have been featured on NPR and the Freakonomics, MD podcast. He is also the founding Deputy Editor for Kidney International Reports.

Thomas Nickolas, M.D., M.S. is an Associate Professor of Medicine. Dr. Nickolas’ research interests are in the skeletal effects of kidney disease and in the identification and development of biomarkers of acute and chronic kidney disease (AKI and CKD respectively). He has shown that fracture rates are more than 2-fold elevated in patients with CKD prior to being placed on dialysis. He then identified that in CKD, the predominant bone abnormality lies within the cortical compartment and that the cortical bone abnormality progressively worsens over time and is the main determinant of decreases in bone strength. He identified mechanisms of bone loss in kidney transplant recipients managed with early corticosteroid withdrawal. He is Principal Investigator of a double blinded placebo controlled randomized clinical trial to determine whether calcitriol mitigates bone loss during the first year of transplantation that is funded by the Coplon Foundation. Concurrently, he conducted the first clinical trials demonstrating that Neutrophil Gelatinase-Associated Lipocalin (NGAL) predicted acute kidney injury, dialysis and death of the patient within 7 days of sampling. He also demonstrated that NGAL was associated with rapidly progressive chronic kidney diseases that are associated with tubular disorders, such as HIV. He is Co-Investigator on an R01 to determine the effects of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis for HIV prevention on the development of subclinical AKI and osteoporosis.

Our transplant team is proud to be part of the APOL1 Long-term Kidney Transplantation Outcomes (APOLLO) Network, a national study supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that is working to address racial disparities in kidney transplant outcomes.