Pre-Renal Initiative Faculty

The Pre-Renal Initiative Faculty in Nephrology, Urology, Stem Cell Biology, and Immunology are leaders in their respective areas of investigation, and many are nationally and/or world-renowned. These 17 faculty members hold primary appointments in multiple departments. In the figure below, faculty are grouped according to their research Focus Area: Basic Science, Translational Science, Patient-Oriented Research, and Health Services Research and Decision Science. 

Faculty Bios - Basic Science Mentors

Vivek Bhalla, MD

Vivek Bhalla, MD is Assistant Professor of Medicine, Director of the Stanford Hypertension Center, and Chair of the Kidney and Cardiovascular Disease Council of the AHA.  Dr. Bhalla is Director of the Science of Medicine – Renal Physiology and Pathophysiology pre-clinical course for second-year medical students. His laboratory-based NIH-funded research program focuses on mechanisms of hypertension and kidney disease in health and diabetes. He uses transgenic mice and molecular biology approaches to study:  (1) diabetic kidney disease, (2) mechanisms of hypertension in the setting of obesity and insulin resistance, (3) the regulation of potassium transport in obesity and insulin resistance, (4) the role of Clcnkb in ion transport, and (5) diuretic-induced tubular hyperplasia and hypertrophy. 

James D. Brooks, MD

James D. Brooks, MD is Professor of Urology and uses genomic approaches to discover and develop diagnostic and prognostic markers for urologic diseases.  A major focus of the Brooks Laboratory is to discover markers that reflect kidney damage in individuals with urinary tract obstruction. Dr. Brooks also has applied genomic approaches to understanding benign prostatic hyperplasia (NIDDK-funded P20).  He has extensive experience in mentoring PhD and clinical scientists in the laboratory. In addition, he will serve as a mentor to trainees and junior faculty members using his experience as Associate Dean in the Office of Academic Affairs to counsel them on developing their scholarly pathways and advancing their academic careers.

Calvin Kuo, MD, PhD

Calvin Kuo, MD, PhD is the Maureen Lyles D'Ambrogio Professor of Medicine and Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Medicine.  A major focus of his laboratory is the study of stem cell biology and relevant niches using in vivo models and in vitro organoid culture approaches, including development of novel organoid systems to grow adult kidney tissue.  During 17 years on the faculty at Stanford, Dr. Kuo has trained 30 postdoctoral fellows, amongst whom there are recipients of three NIH K08 awards, a Burroughs Wellcome Career Award for Medical Scientists, five AHA Postdoctoral Fellows, three oncology society Young Investigator Awards, as well as other postdoctoral fellowships from the American Cancer Society, Komen and diverse other sources. His trainees have gone on to careers in academics, industry and related fields. Furthermore, he has trained seven medical students and 20 undergraduates (subsequently accepted to Harvard Medical School x 3, UCSF Medical School x 2, Stanford Medical School, and numerous in MD/PhD programs), and several high school students including an Intel Science National Finalist. Although Dr. Kuo is not housed within Nephrology, he currently mentors a pediatric nephrology fellow on a project related to kidney organoids. Dr. Kuo will also provide the didactic lecture on tissue organoids.

Jonathan Maltzman, MD, PhD

Jonathan Maltzman, MD, PhD is Associate Professor of Medicine and Director of Basic Research in the Division of Nephrology.  The Maltzman lab studies immune responses relevant to solid organ transplantation using genetically modified mouse models and tissues from human transplant recipients.  Since his recent move to Stanford, he has developed an interest in understanding the immune response to latent viral infection in human transplant recipients with ongoing work evaluating the responses to cytomegalovirus and BK virus.  Dr. Maltzman’s clinical focus is in kidney transplantation, allograft rejection, and immunologic complications of transplantation.  In addition to laboratory-based studies, Dr. Maltzman has a strong interest in the education of undergraduates, medical students, medical residents and fellows, and PhD graduate students and post-docs. This includes involvement in MSTP and physician-scientist residency programs, didactic sessions and more importantly individualized training in the laboratory resulting in multiple first-author manuscripts in peer review journals from the trainees. Dr. Maltzman served as primary mentor for two T32 trainees. Dr. Maltzman will participate in didactic lectures on laboratory techniques relevant for kidney research.

Alan Pao, MD

Alan Pao, MD is Assistant Professor of Medicine and (by courtesy) Urology.  He co-directs Kidney Stone Centers at VAPAHSC (with Dr. Leppert) and Stanford.  Dr. Pao’s research focuses on how the kidney regulates electrolyte and water homeostasis to elucidate the pathogenesis of hypertension, hyponatremia, and kidney stone formation. Dr. Pao has trained eight postdoctoral fellows in Nephrology who together have published 10 original manuscripts. He currently trainees two female Nephrology fellows in clinical/translational research related to nephrolithiasis. Dr. Pao will provide lectures on nephrolithiasis for R25 trainees.

Paul J. Utz, MD, PhD

Paul J. Utz, MD, PhD is Professor of Medicine (Immunology & Rheumatology) and Associate Dean for Medical Student Research. The Utz Lab focuses on the immune system in healthy individuals and patients with immunodeficiency disorders, infections, and autoimmune diseases.  Major goals include: (1) to use bioinformatics methods to interrogate public datasets, then to validate these “dry lab” discoveries using traditional “wet lab” methods; (2) to understand the mechanisms by which highly-conserved, diverse molecules and complexes are targeted by T and B lymphocytes (3) to invent and validate novel technologies for high-throughput, multiplex proteomics; (4) to take advantage of the information provided by autoantibody profiling methods to develop antigen-specific tolerizing therapies for common autoimmune diseases; and (5) to determine the molecular mechanisms underlying the observation that women are much more susceptible to autoimmune diseases, while men are more susceptible to infections. 

Faculty Bios - Translational Science Mentors

Purvesh Khatri, PhD

Purvesh Khatri, PhD is Associate Professor of Medicine (Biomedical Informatics Research) and Biomedical Data Science.  Dr. Khatri has more than 15 years of professional experience in the areas of bioinformatics, computational biology, and translational medicine. He develops methods for the integration and analysis of high throughput genomics and proteomics data.  Dr. Khatri is broadly recognized for his work on the development of ontological and pathway analysis of high throughput molecular data, and leveraging publicly available data for integrated, multi-cohort analyses for identification of diagnostic and therapeutic biomarkers. Dr. Khatri will participate in didactic lectures on broad applicability of bioinformatic analysis of large-scale datasets (e.g. single cell RNA sequencing, genomics, electronic health records). Although Dr. Khatri is not housed within the Division of Nephrology, Dr. Khatri collaborates with other Nephrology Training Faculty (Bhalla, Maltzman) and their trainees on kidney-related research. Dr. Khatri also participates in the Basic Science Nephrology Trainee forum held quarterly for postdoctoral fellows to present their work.

Joseph D. Liao, MD

Joseph C. Liao, MD is Associate Professor of Urology at the Stanford University School of Medicine and Chief of Urology at the VAPAHCS.  Dr. Liao directs an NIH-funded research program that interfaces biology, engineering, medicine, and surgery.  Current areas of research interest include urine-based molecular diagnostics, biosensors, molecular imaging and image-guided surgery.  The Liao Laboratory has developed an integrated biochip for point-of-care diagnosis of urinary tract infections and new optical imaging technologies for the urinary tract.  He has mentored over 30 pre-doctoral students, postdoctoral fellows and clinical trainees in urology, many of whom have continued to pursue careers in academia and research. In addition to trainees in urology, he has close interaction with colleagues and trainees in Nephrology, both in clinical practice and in joint research group on urinary stone diseases.

Tammy Sirich, MD

Tammy Sirich, MD is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Stanford University and is housed at the VAPAHCS. She is an R01-funded investigator and has expertise in the use of mass spectrometry to study uremic toxins in the cerebrospinal fluid, plasma, and urine in kidney disease. She has expertise in identifying novel molecules and in measuring uremic toxins from biosamples from major clinical datasets including the HEMO study and CRIC. Dr. Sirich mentors several Nephrology fellows in translational studies of uremic toxins. Dr. Sirich will discuss the mechanics of renal replacement therapy for trainees.

Faculty Bios - Clinical (Patient-Oriented) Research Mentors

Shuchi Anand, MD, MS

Shuchi Anand, MD, MS is an Assistant Professor of Medicine  She initially focused her research on a series of studies related to physical health and function in end stage renal disease and later on projects related to global health and nephrology. In addition to conducting studies of chronic kidney disease epidemiology in India and Bangladesh, Dr. Anand has been working in Sri Lanka to develop a case definition for chronic kidney disease of unknown etiology (CKDu, also referred to as Mesoamerican Nephropathy) and has designed a case-control study testing multiple environmental and behavioral exposures.  She plays an active role in international efforts to promote research in CKDu and has served as mentor to several trainees to participate in her global health research.  Dr. Anand currently mentors two Nephrology fellows including an NIH F32 awardee (Garcia, Bradshaw).

Mary B. Leonard, MD, MSCE

Mary B. Leonard, MD, MSCE has devoted the majority of her effort to patient-oriented research and mentoring junior investigators.  Her research program is primarily focused on the impact of chronic diseases on bone metabolism and nutrition, with an emphasis on changes in body composition, bone mineral density, and bone architecture in the context of inflammatory diseases, glucocorticoid therapy, and chronic kidney disease.  In 2007, she was awarded the inaugural Faculty Mentor Award by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.  Dr. Leonard moved from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) to Stanford/Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital in 2014 as the Founding Director of the Stanford Assessment of Muscle and Bone across the Ages (SAMBA) Center and Associate Dean for Maternal and Child Health Research before being appointed Chair in 2016. Dr. Leonard’s mentees published over 20 first-author publications in the leading bone, endocrinology, nephrology, transplantation, and rheumatology journals. Many of her mentees have progressed to independence, having secured R-level or R-equivalent funding. 

Jane Tan, MD, PhD

Jane Tan, MD, PhD is an Associate Professor of Medicine. She has conducted NIH-sponsored research on renal senescence using older deceased donor kidneys and older living donors. This work led to several important publications and national leadership on living donor education initiatives, development of an educational toolbox for the American Society of Transplantation and ASN. Her current research is on improving access and outcomes in aging kidney transplant candidates.  She currently mentors an adult Nephrology fellow who received a T32 Diversity supplement.

Faculty Bios - Epidemiology, Health Services Research, Decision Science Mentors

Tara Chang, MD, MS

Tara Chang, MD, MS is an Associate Professor of Medicine. She is director of Clinical Research for the Division of Nephrology. For her research, she focuses on hypertension and cardiovascular disease in patients with chronic kidney disease. Dr. Chang was Co-Investigator at Stanford for SPRINT, and serves on the KDIGO Blood Pressure in Chronic Kidney Disease Workgroup.  She actively participates in several randomized clinical trials focused on hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and chronic kidney disease. Dr. Chang currently mentors two adult Nephrology fellows, including an American Kidney Fund Clinical Scientist Awardee.

Glenn Chertow, MD, MPH

Glenn M. Chertow, MD, MPH, is the Norman S. Coplon/Satellite Healthcare Professor of Medicine and (by courtesy) Health Research and Policy (Epidemiology) and Chief, Division of Nephrology.  Over the past two decades, Dr. Chertow has developed and maintained a robust clinical research program focused on acute and chronic kidney disease, dialysis and kidney transplantation. Dr. Chertow was designated “Bay Area Mentor of the Year” in 2006. Nationally, Dr. Chertow has served as Senior Mentor for the NIDDK Network of Minority Research Investigators and on the NMRI Program Committee in 2017/18 and as Co-Chair of the West Regional NMRI meeting in November 2017. He serves as a Core Faculty member for Stanford’s internal medicine residency program, a member of Spectrum (Stanford’s CTSA) Council of Mentors, and a member of the School of Medicine Teaching and Mentoring Academy. Dr. Chertow has devoted a substantial proportion of his time and energy to mentoring young scientists.

John T. Leppert, MD, MS

John T. Leppert, MD, MS is Associate Professor of Urology and Medicine (Nephrology).  He completed an Endourology fellowship at UCLA before joining the Stanford faculty in 2008.  At Stanford, he received an NIDDK K23 (on which Drs. Brooks and Chertow were co-mentors) focused on the effects of kidney cancer surgery on kidney function and related complications.  In addition to his work in health services research and clinical epidemiology, Dr. Leppert manages a translational research program investigating novel blood, tissue, and urine based biomarkers of kidney cancer.  More recently, Dr. Leppert has been leading a multidisciplinary research program at Stanford on urinary stone disease and co-directs the Kidney Stone Center at VAPAHCS with Dr. Alan Pao (Nephrology). In total, Dr. Leppert has trained 17 residents and fellows. Dr. Leppert has served as a mentor for more trainees than any other Department of Urology faculty member over the past five years. These trainees have received internal Stanford grant funding, regional and national urology awards, presented at national meetings, and published 12 peer-reviewed first author publications.

Mitchell Lunn, MD, MAS

Mitchell R. Lunn, MD, MAS is an Assistant Professor of Medicine (Nephrology). Dr. Lunn graduated from Stanford University School of Medicine before completing a residency in internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA and a fellowship in Nephrology at UCSF. He also holds a master’s degree in clinical research (epidemiology and biostatistics) from UCSF. Dr. Lunn is an expert in sexual and gender minority health. He is co-director of PRIDEnet – a participant-powered research network focused on this LGBTQ+ health – and of The PRIDE Study (pridestudy.org) – a national, longitudinal cohort study of more than 17,000 LGBTQ+ adults. The PRIDE Study includes annual data collection related to kidney health, cardiovascular health, metabolism, sexual dysfunction (including erectile dysfunction), pelvic pain, and urinary function. In total, Dr. Lunn has trained eight residents and fellows, all LGBTQ+-identified. 

Manjula Kurella Tamura, MD, MPH

Manjula Kurella Tamura, MD, MPH is Professor of Medicine and Director of the Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center at VAPAHCS.  She serves on the Scientific Committee of Stanford’s Translational Research and Applied Medicine program.  Dr. Kurella Tamura has developed a research career focused on issues of aging in kidney disease.  She was recently Co-Director of the USRDS Special Study Center on Palliative and End-of-Life Care and serves as Associate Editor of CJASN.  Dr. Tamura actively participates in several randomized clinical trials focused on hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and chronic kidney disease.

Avnesh Thakor, MD

Dr. Thakor runs his own translational laboratory at Stanford University where his team has been investigating the use of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) based therapies (which includes both the parent cell and their extra-cellular vesicles (EVs)), for disease states given their anti-inflammatory, pro-angiogenic and immunomodulatory properties. In particular, Dr. Thakor’s team has been focusing on kidney regeneration and on understanding the genomic and proteomic profiles of different sources of MSCs and their derived EVs, developing novel strategies to deliver and home these MSC-based therapies to the acutely injured kidney.  His team also uses focused ultrasound to optimize the injured tissue microenvironment for these therapies and then imaging the biodistribution of MSCs with novel imaging probes.  By translating stem cell therapies into patients using minimally invasive strategies, his team is leading the efforts in a new emerging field called “Interventional Regenerative Medicine (IRM)”.