As a pediatric resident with an interest in Neonatology I never truly considered a fellowship or research in Nephrology. However, during my first few months of Neonatology fellowship at the University of Virginia one of my mentors recommended meeting with Dr. Jennifer Charlton to see what type of projects she had on-going. This happened to be a week before PAS abstracts were due- so we picked a chart review she had been hoping to perform and one week later we had our first abstract submitted together exploring the relationship between caffeine use in preterm patients and AKI.
With Dr. Charlton’s guidance and enthusiasm, I quickly developed a passion for all things related to neonatal kidneys. Since that time, we have published those results on caffeine and AKI and are currently working to publish a sub-analysis of the AWAKEN data exploring the same relationship between AKI and caffeine but also including theophylline use. Working with the NKC has been very valuable for me- providing me with multiple mentors and most importantly allowing me to build significant research connections and relationships with other faculty from around the country and world.
My primary project of fellowship was exploring the childhood effect of AKI in preterm infants dubbed ‘FANCY- Follow-up of AKI in Neonates during Childhood Years’. In this small prospective study I was able to recruit 34 former VLBW preterm patients with an average age of 5 years to return for a kidney-screening visit. In this study we found that preterm patients with a history of AKI in the NICU were four times as likely to have signs of early CKD (either hypertension, proteinuria or reduced eGFR) when compared to those without a history of AKI in the NICU. Hopefully this study provides the preliminary results necessary to organize a large multicenter prospective longitudinal study looking at the long-term effects of AKI in the NICU.
Fellowship at UVA and Dr. Charlton’s mentorship certainly provided me with the research tools necessary to be successful as an assistant professor now at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Since coming to Madison I have organized a small group of urologists, nephrologists, neonatologists and infectious disease specialists (URINN- UW Renal Investigative Neonatal Network) and we are currently looking at the diagnosis of UTI in the NICU with the goal of reducing antibiotic usage in the NICU. I also have a project pending grant funding to utilize NIRS (Near Infrared Specrtoscopy) in infants < 33 weeks attempting to correlate tissue oxygenation changes to classical markers used to diagnose AKI. I am always looking for other projects and collaborators so please do not hesitate to get in touch!