Division of nephrology

Division of Nephrology

Interim-Division Director:  Michael Ullian, MDDivision Administrator: Richard Lee              
Nephrology FacultyNephrology Staff

MUSC Nephrology History► Nephrology Training► Nephrology Research

The Division of Nephrology, Hypertension, and Transplantation at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in historic Charleston has been selected as a "top performing" kidney program by US News and World Report magazine.   Our faculty have worked diligently to foster this reputation by providing excellent clinical care, building a nationally prominent research program, and creating a stimulating educational environment for future Nephrologists. 

Although MUSC is the oldest medical school in the South (1824), its Division of Nephrology was a regional program until the recruitment of David W. Ploth, MD from the University of Alabama Birmingham in 1987.  Since then, the division has grown rapidly into a nationally and internationally known academic program, with excellence in patient care, investigation, and training. Several of our faculty members have been recognized recently for individual achievements.  Rachel L. Sturdivant, MD received the Leonard Tow Humanism Award by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation for outstanding contributions to caring and nurturing in medicine.  She was also selected as a Fellow of the National Kidney Foundation.  P. Darwin Bell, PhD received the Carl Gottschalk Award from the American Society of Nephrology.

The physical environment of the Division consists of 3 hospitals (MUSC Hospital, which houses the Division offices; Ashley River Tower Hospital, which specializes in cardiovascular diseases, gastroenterology, and hematology-oncology; and the Ralph H. Johnson Veteran’s Administration Hospital) and a number of satellite dialysis units, which are managed in partnership between the Division and the non-profit dialysis provider Dialysis Clinic Incorporated (DCI), based in Nashville, Tennessee.  MUSC nephrologists care for approximately 450 chronic dialysis patients in 7 DCI outpatient hemodialysis units, the DCI home dialysis program, and the Veteran’s Administration hospital.  The 3 hospitals are located in a 4-block area of the MUSC campus, facilitating research collaboration, communication between faculty members, and in-depth fellowship training.  Recently, chronic kidney disease clinics have expanded from the main MUSC campus to Mount Pleasant and North Charleston.

A number of our faculty members provide additional expertise in specialized areas: renal anemia, chronic kidney disease, education (Ruth C. Campbell, MD, Rachel L. Sturdivant, MD); glomerular diseases, apheresis (Milos N. Budisavljevic, MD); renal ultrasound, annual kidney disease symposium (Juan Carlos Q. Velez, MD); lipopheresis, peritoneal dialysis (Michael E. Ullian, MD); and nephrolithiasis (Svetozar V. Tomov, MD, in collaboration with the Department of Urology).

All of our faculty members, 12 MDs and 7 PhDs, are active in research activities.  Active collaborations between clinicians and basic scientists are ongoing, and collaborations with faculty from other divisions and departments are common.  The faculty have expertise in clinical trials, whole animal models of renal disease, human and animal genetics, signal transduction, confocal microscopy, renal physiology, proteomics, biomarkers of renal diseases, glomerular disease, renal cystic disease, and the role of the renin-angiotensin system in renal disease.  The Division holds 5 endowed chairs, including the Arthur V. Williams Chair (David W. Ploth, MD, the Nephrology Research Chair (P. Darwin Bell, PhD), and the DCI Chair in Nephrology (John M. Arthur, MD/PhD).  Through the South Carolina Center of Economic Excellence and the efforts of Dr. John Arthur, 2 additional chairs (basic science and translational) have been established for the study of renal disease biomarkers, and searches for nationally recognized scientists to hold these chairs are underway.  

Our fellowship training program, under the guidance of Ruth C. Campbell, MD, was recently reaccredited by the American College of Graduate Medical Education for 5 years with multiple commendations. The training program accepts 2 to 4 trainees each year in a 2-year clinical track.  We also accept 1 or 2 trainees each year in the 3-year research pathway (2 years in the laboratory supported by an NIH T-32 award and 1 year of clinical training).  Trainees study normal renal physiology, hypertension, fluid and electrolyte disorders, transplantation, acute renal failure, chronic kidney disease, hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis, and continuous renal replacement therapy in multiple settings: inpatient consultation services, outpatient clinics, and didactic conferences.  

The kidney transplant program at MUSC, the only kidney transplant program in South Carolina, continues to grow, such that more than 200 renal transplants were performed in 2011, placing it in the top 20 in volume nationally.  This program now employs 5 full-time surgeons.  The 4 transplant nephrology faculty members are fully integrated with their surgical colleagues to optimize clinical care and research.   We have established an advanced training fellowship in renal transplantation, which can accommodate 2 trainees.

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