Carolyn Abitbol, MD

Carolyn Abitbol

March 2017

I joined the faculty of the University of Miami in July 1983 after serving as the first Pediatric Nephrologist at the State University of New York, Stony Brook, Long Island. Since early in my career, I have been interested in the challenges of preterm birth and the long-term consequences of prematurity. During my residency in Pediatrics at Emory, parenteral nutrition was in the early phases of clinical use in low birth weight preterm infants. I designed a clinical study to provide intravenous protein and calories by peripheral vein to a series of LBW infants and measured amino acid patterns in collaboration with Dr. Dan Rudman, an endocrinologist at Emory. During fellowship at UCSF, I worked with the young rat model of chronic experimental uremia imposed by 5/6 nephrectomy in weanling pups. In effect, this renal ablation model is synonymous with “low nephron mass” in children and has served as the foundation of my research which has focused on low nephron endowment and “oligonephropathy of prematurity”. Subsequently, I published the first long term follow-up of preterm infants who experienced acute kidney injury (AKI) during the neonatal period. It is one of few publications to date that addresses the neonatal determinants of chronic kidney disease in preterm infants after AKI. An autopsy study with Dr. Maria Rodriguez and others in Miami, published in 2004, provided seminal evidence that being born preterm was an important independent risk factor for low nephron mass. Our study demonstrated that infants born during active nephrogenesis never achieved a full complement of nephrons. Low nephron mass is consistent with the developmental origins hypothesis with implications for lifelong cardiovascular and renal disease including hypertension and proteinuria. As the recipient of the Gerber Foundation Grant, I designed and coordinated the study that enrolled more than 150 neonates that were followed prospectively from 2011 to 2013. The results were published in 2 manuscripts in 2014 and 2015 with several ancillary projects still being completed. Most recently, I was awarded the 2015 Batchelor Foundation Award which will enable our team to expand our studies into the genetic and environmental causes of preterm birth.