Blog entry by mohammad katout
The biggest problem facing around 13,000 kidney professionals attending this huge annual meeting of the American Society of Nephrology was to decide which talks and sessions to attend among the very rich program where too many interesting sessions were running in parallel.
In her address at the opening plenary session, the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) President Sharon M Moe, MD crafted a road map "BUILDING NEW PATHS TO KIDNEY HEALTH" in light of the changing healthcare landscape and rapidly advancing science. She pointed out that nephrology is now almost facing a mid-life crisis and that focusing on kidney health instead of disease would get it back on the glamorous path it once was on; giving it a face lift.
State-of-the-Art Lecture “Stem cells to understand and treat diabetes” by Douglas Melton, PhD, Professor from Harvard merely reflects enhancing the basic science content of this meeting where he presented the pioneering work of his lab in studying the genes and cells that differentiate into functioning islet beta cells to treat diabetes. Also, Eske Willersslev, DSc an expert in ancient DNA and evolutionary biology unveiled some secretes in his interesting talk “What we can learn from the genetic past”.
To further emphasize the pivotal role of basic research and genetic studies in kidney health and disease, the acclaimed researcher received the Homer W. Smith Award Professor Friedhelm Hildebrandt, MD from Harvard and delivered an address “Single gene defects elucidating the mechanisms of CKD”. He smoothly introduced the huge audience into the fascinating and exciting world of monogenic kidney diseases. He also presented that his group identified more than 50 novel causative genes for CKD and delineated the related pathogenesis.
Given the above, I have to respectfully disagree with Dr. Moe. I am not very enthusiastic about the nephrology middle age crisis and face lift theory. On the contrary, I believe nephrology is yet to mature and grow up with the rapidly accumulating data on molecular basis of kidney health and disease. We will grow when we conquer all the challenges ahead. As researchers continue to unravel basic pathogenic mechanisms of many, yet enigmatic, kidney diseases, our therapeutic options would undoubtedly change heading strongly towards a whole new era of personalized medicine