2008 Award Recipients

Robert G. Narins Award

Mitchell L. Halperin, MD

Mitchell L. Halperin, MD. Dr. Halperin is an attending physician at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, Canada, and a professor at the University of Toronto.

Dr. Halperin is known for using creative methods to teach his students. By guiding his students to a conceptual understanding of renal physiology grounded in a passion for and command of the subject, Dr. Halperin inspires his students to go beyond the knowledge required to practice medicine, instilling a true love of learning for its own sake. His many contributions as a teacher include training 35 fellows in his laboratory, writing and helping to write 50 book chapters, and publishing three editions of Fluid, Electrolyte and Acid-Base Physiology, a comprehensive book that has strongly influenced the teaching of this difficult area to trainees and nephrologists throughout the world. Dr. Halperin is recognized internationally as an outstanding teacher; a fact evident by more than 300 lectures he has given at international meetings and universities.

John P. Peters Award

Robert Jay Alpern, MD

Robert J. Alpern, MD. A former ASN President, Dr. Alpern is Dean of the Yale University Medical School.

Dr. Alpern’s body of work is characterized by remarkable cohesiveness, as he has moved from mammalian micropuncture experiments to approaches that describe, in molecular detail, the specific transport operations in the apical and basolateral membranes in the proximal nephron involved in H secretion and HCO3 absorption, and his further studies have defined additional components and modes of salt absorption in the nephron, especially those involved in chloride and citrate reabsorption. Dr. Alpern’s research program has focused on several aspects of proximal tubule acidification transport. He was the first to measure intracellular pH in vivo, allowing him to define the coordinated responses of the apical and basolateral membrane transports of protons and bicarbonate in response to conditions that regulate acidification mechanisms.

Further studies by Dr. Alpern have centered, in great detail, on the signaling pathways that are activated by changes in intracellular pH. He discovered the important role of endothelium-1 in the pH-induced transport modifications, and also highlighted the role of non-receptor thyrosine kinases in the acid-activated signaling cascade. His most recent research efforts have successfully defined a circadian output gene as a further regulatory mechanism of acid excretion. Taken together, he has made and continues to make substantial research contributions to the discipline of nephrology.

Despite continuing his research and carrying a significant administrative burden as Dean, Dr. Alpern also played a major role in the successful organization of the Forefront Symposia Program of the International Society of Nephrology. Moreover, he has been a major educational and mentoring force in the field. He has trained a large number of post-doctoral fellows (many of whom are now independent scientists in their own right) and been recognized and respected by the nephrology community as an outstanding scientist and mentor.

Belding H. Scribner Award

Marshall D. Lindheimer, MD

Marshall D. Lindheimer, MD. Dr. Lindheimer is Professor Emeritus in the Departments of Internal Medicine, Obstetrics, and Gynecology at the University of Chicago.

Dr. Lindheimer, a physician noted to encompass many of the personal attributes that many came to admire in Dr. Belding Scribner, such as intense humanism and caring for others, has devoted himself to the study of renal disorders of pregnancy, and is probably the foremost authority in the world on these conditions. He and his associates have investigated the pathology and the prognosis of preeclampsia, the resetting of the osmostat that occurs in normal pregnancy, and the pathophysiology of proteinuria in normal and abnormal pregnancies. He is also lauded for his effort to collate, edit, and publicize advances in knowledge about renal disease and pregnancy. He has edited two authoritative books and several symposia on this subject.

By bringing the subject of the kidney and pregnancy to the attention of internists and obstetricians in a readable and comprehensible way, and by his own contributions to our collective base of knowledge, such as his seminal invited review in The New England Journal of Medicine in 1973 concerning the administration of diuretics during pregnancy, he has made an outstanding contribution that has directly impacted the care of patients with renal disease and changed the clinical practice of nephrology.

Homer W. Smith Award

Peter C. Harris, PhD

Peter C. Harris, PhD. Dr. Harris is Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Professor of Medicine at Mayo Medical School.

The field of polycystic kidney disease (PKD) research has advanced rapidly during the past decade. The key breakthrough in this area was the mapping and identification of the first disease gene for autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease, by Dr. Harris. He was also the first person to identify the disease gene for autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease. Thus, Dr. Harris made two separate landmark contributions to the molecular identification of disease genes causing the major forms of PKD.

Dr. Harris is also the international leader in characterizing mutation-phenotype correlations in these cystic kidney diseases. His work has also greatly contributed to identifying the central role of primary cilia in the molecular pathogenesis of this group of diseases.

Young Investigator Award

S. Ananth Karumanchi, MD

S. Ananth Karumanchi, MD. Dr. Karumanchi is Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and an attending physician in the Nephrology, Molecular, and Vascular Medicine Divisions at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He holds a second appointment as a Senior Scientist with the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Dr. Karumanchi began his research career by focusing on the characterization of circulating mediators of preeclampsia, one of the most common medical complications of pregnancy. During the past five years, he has made groundbreaking contributions to the field of preeclampsia that has catapulted him to international fame.

Although preeclampsia has been recognized for at least 2,000 years, its cause remained unknown. Dr. Karumanchi identified two proteins that appear about five weeks before symptoms become present. His research may soon lead to a treatment for preeclampsia.