Learn more about the Clinical Scientist in Nephrology (CSN) Program
For over 30 years, the American Kidney Fund Clinical Scientist in Nephrology (CSN) fellowship program has funded researchers whose work is designed to improve diagnosis, treatment and outcomes for patients living with chronic kidney disease and has promoted clinical research in nephrology. Our CSN fellows conduct prevention and outcomes research while receiving advanced training in essential skills such as medical ethics, biostatistics and epidemiology.
The Clinical Scientist in Nephrology program has trained some of nephrology's brightest scholars who have gone on to become leaders in the field and mentors to new generations of scientists studying kidney disease. Many former CSN fellows have conducted groundbreaking research that advances knowledge and treatment of kidney disease.
A Clinical Scientist in Nephrology fellowship may be granted yearly, with a maximum duration of two years for each fellowship. The maximum level of funding of $80,000 per year shall be used principally to support the candidate and his or her career development. This sum is expected to cover the individual fellow's salary (not to exceed $55,000) as well as training-related expenses.
Meet Our 2022 CSN Fellows
Dr. Jillian Caldwell
Jillian Caldwell, DO, is a nephrology fellow at Stanford University School of Medicine. Dr. Caldwell will examine the interplay between immunologic matching in kidney transplants and equitable access to transplantation. While immunologically matched kidney transplants demonstrate better outcomes in terms of patient and kidney survival, racial and ethnic minorities are less likely to receive fully-matched kidneys, a disparity historically attributed to the genetic makeup of the donor pool. Her project will examine the reasons for this disparity and evaluate alternative kidney allocation strategies that enhance access to well-matched kidney transplants.
Dr. Caldwell's long-term goals include devising better systems, including policy changes, to enhance access and equity in kidney transplantation.
"Kidney transplantation is a way to restore our patients' quality of life and health, and should be accessible to all. However, disparities still exist and many patients' transplants are compromised by systemic barriers to care, such as inability to afford immunosuppression. I am grateful to AKF for this opportunity and hope our work will advance policies that grant all patients equal access to well-matched, successful kidney transplants."
Dr. Caldwell earned her Bachelor of Science degree in neuroscience at McGill University and her medical degree at Midwestern University Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine. She completed her residency at the University of Illinois-Chicago and is now in a nephrology fellowship at Stanford University School of Medicine in Palo Alto, California.
Dr. Janewit Wongboonsin
Janewit Wongboonsin, MD, MS, is a clinical and research fellow in the Brigham and Women's Hospital-Massachusetts General Hospital Renal Fellowship Program conducting his post-doctoral research at Boston Children's Hospital. He will study the genetic signatures of nephrotic syndrome, a rare disorder with a group of symptoms that indicate a person's kidneys are losing essential proteins in the urine, through an existing electronic health record-linked biobank of 130,000 participants of the Mass General Brigham Biobank. Dr. Wongboonsin hopes to expand the understanding of the prevalence and clinical impact of nephrotic syndrome genetic variants and create a large, genetically mapped cohort of patients that will be valuable for current and future clinical genetic epidemiology studies. These discoveries may also be used to inform a precision medicine approach to kidney disease.
His professional goal is to become an independent investigator in kidney genetics, leading a translational kidney genomics research program.
"Genomic information has shown promise in assisting with diagnosis and management of multiple diseases. Nephrology is starting to integrate the use of genetic information to help our patients. My research aims to understand the impact of genetic forms of nephrotic syndrome on adults with this disease. Doing so will ultimately enable us to use genomic information more effectively to augment the care we provide."
Dr. Wongboonsin earned his medical degree from the Faculty of Medicine, Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University, in Bangkok, Thailand. After completing his residency, chief residency, and Master of Science in Clinical Research at the University of Minnesota, he is a nephrology fellow in the BWH-MGH Renal Fellowship Program and a research fellow at Boston Children's Hospital.
Meet our 2021 CSN fellows
Dr. Elizabeth Kermgard
Elizabeth Kermgard, MD, is a pediatric nephrology fellow at Children's Hospital Los Angeles. Dr. Kermgard will study the relationship between the gut microbiome, short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) and parathyroid hormone (PTH) resistance in patients on chronic dialysis. It is known that our gut microbiome and the production of SCFAs are important for normal bone regulation, but what is not known is if this relationship holds true for those with CKD. Better understanding this relationship could shed light on new possible interventions to treat bone and mineral disease in CKD patients. Her research will enroll 48 pediatric dialysis patients between the ages of six and 21. Her team will collect blood and stool samples to look at shotgun sequencing of the gut microbiome, conduct analysis of serum and stool SCFAs as well as PTH and PTH fragment levels, an important indicator of mineral and bone disease in CKD patients.
In parallel with her research, Dr. Kermgard will pursue a Master of Science in Clinical, Biomedical and Translational Investigations degree at the University of Southern California (USC). Dr. Kermgard completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and received her Doctor of Medicine degree from Saint Louis University. After medical school, she completed her pediatric internship and residency at CHLA, where she is currently completing her first year of fellowship in pediatric nephrology.
Dr. Christine Limonte
Christine Limonte, MD, is a nephrology clinical research fellow at the University of Washington. Dr. Limonte's research will utilize novel analytics techniques to determine if blood vessel disease in the back of the eye, or retinopathy, can reveal information about kidney function and kidney disease. The goal of the investigation is to better diagnose and treat diabetic kidney disease. In a two-part study, Dr. Limonte will first use machine learning on medical record data from 10,000 patients to look at associations between kidney function and eye disease. In the second part, she will work with the Kidney Precision Medicine Project, a consortium sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, to analyze kidney biopsy samples from 75 people, using genetic data to help decipher mechanisms of kidney disease.
Dr. Limonte graduated magna cum laude from Brown University, where she concentrated in Neuroscience and received her medical degree from the Perelman School of Medicine at University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Limonte completed her residency in internal medicine at Northwestern University, where she also participated in the Academy for Quality and Safety Improvement (AQSI) certificate program. During her residency, she spent one month volunteering at a community health clinic in Bolivia.
Meet our previous CSN fellows
For three decades we have supported clinical research, identifying emerging clinical researchers seeking to advance patient care and providing fellowships to fund their research.
The CSN fellowship program is an educational activity that is made in part by a grant from Akebia.
Help us build a research pipeline
Help AKF identify and fund the most promising researchers who will advance innovation in kidney disease treatment.