Co- Principal Investigators: James Lash, MD, Waddah Alrefai, MD
Dr. James Lash is the Robert Wood Keeton Professor of Medicine at UIC, Chief of the Division of Nephrology and an Associate Head of Research for the Department of Medicine. Dr. Lash’s research focuses on the epidemiology of CKD and interventional trials in the treatment of kidney disease, particularly in racial/ethnic minority populations in the United States. He has had continuous NIH funding as PI since 2001. He is the UIC Clinical Center PI for the NIDDK-sponsored Chronic Renal Insufficiency Cohort (CRIC) Study, which aims to define risk factors for progression of CKD and cardiovascular disease in patients with CKD. In addition, a major focus of his work is to gain a better understanding of the disproportionate burden of CKD in Hispanics living in the U.S. and Mexico. He is the PI for the Hispanic CRIC Study, which is the first study examining risk factors for progression of CKD in a large cohort of Hispanics living in the U.S. On the international level, Dr. Lash leads an ongoing collaboration with Instituto Nacional de Cardiología Ignacio Chávez in Mexico City, which is investigating CKD epidemiology in Mexicans with CKD. These studies offer excellent research training opportunities and several of his medical students have published manuscripts using data from these studies.
Dr. Lash is a deeply committed mentor with a strong track record of mentoring medical students, postdoctoral fellows, and junior faculty, many of whom have gone on to successful academic and research careers. In terms of medical student mentorship, Dr. Lash has successfully worked with first medical students supported by the Craig Fellowship, as well as the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois. Many of his students continued to be involved in research activities during medical school and were productive in terms of presentations at national scientific conferences and publications. In recognition of his experience in mentorship, Dr. Lash has an NIDDK Midcareer Investigator Award in Patient-Oriented Research (K24) which is focused on mentorship and training in the area of health disparities in CKD.
Dr. Waddah A. Alrefai, MD is a Professor of Medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology and an Associate Head of Research for the Department of Medicine. He has a strong track record as a well-funded basic scientist, a mentor, and an educator. Dr. Alrefai’s research focuses on investigating intestinal bile acid and cholesterol absorption with emphasis on understanding their roles in the maintenance of cholesterol homeostasis and in mediating gut-liver crosstalk. Specifically, his work is centered on studying the molecular regulation of the intestinal bile acid transporter ASBT and cholesterol transporter NPC1L1. For the past 14 years, Dr. Alrefai has been continuously funded by the NIH and VA. He is also a Research Career Scientist at the VA, which is a prestigious award for VA health researchers who are international leaders in their field.
In addition to having a strong track record, Dr. Alrefai plays a major role in medical student education. He is a member of the College of Medicine Curriculum-Phase 1 Chicago Faculty and the Co-Director of the Digestion and Homeostasis course. He has mentored the summer research for several medical students and has served as thesis supervisor for MD/PhD students.
SRTP Coordinator: Natalie Meza, MPH
Ms. Meza brings extensive experience as a research project manager and in the administration of training grants.