July 01, 2011
By Donna Peck
The internationally recognized Kidney Institute at the University of Kansas Medical Center now has a new director: Alan Yu, MD, joined the institute as its director on June 20. He is also the medical center's new division director of nephrology.
"We are truly delighted that Dr. Yu has come on board as the leader of nephrology and the Kidney Institute," said Barbara Atkinson, MD, executive vice chancellor at KU Medical Center and executive dean at the School of Medicine. "It is a great credit to the strength of our nephrology department and the Kidney Institute that Dr. Yu has come to KU."
Before his arrival at KU Medical Center, Yu was an associate professor of medicine, physiology and biophysics at the renowned Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. Before his tenure at Keck, he was an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Yu agreed that the Kidney Institute's reputation and its faculty were major factors in his decision to accept the position at KU Medical Center. "Very few nephrology divisions in the country have a multidisciplinary approach to kidney research like the one we have at the Kidney Institute."
Yu said he has been looking forward to working with some of KU Medical Center's internationally recognized kidney researchers, including Jared J. Grantham, MD, University Distinguished Professor of Nephrology, who this fall will receive the John P. Peters Award -- the highest honor that the American Society of Nephrology can bestow on a physician scientist/educator -- and James Calvet, PhD, professor of biology and molecular biology, who is the recipient of the 2011 Lillian Jean Kaplan International Prize for Advancement in the Understanding of Polycystic Kidney Disease.
"Working with my colleagues, I want to raise the profile of the institute in the national and international scientific communities," Yu said. "One of my first priorities is to recruit more highly accomplished investigators."
Yu said two new recruits will be coming to KU Medical Center later this summer. Pamela Tran, PhD, an instructor in medicine at Harvard University who specializes in kidney development, will arrive in July. Reena Rao, PhD, an assistant professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University, comes to KU Medical Center in August. Rao's research centers around glycogen synthase kinase-3 beta, a key cell signaling enzyme linked to several diseases, including diabetes and certain cancers.
Yu said there are four major areas he would like the Kidney Institute to focus on in the near future: polycystic kidney disease; glomerular disease and kidney development; bone and mineral metabolism; and transport physiology.
"The great thing about the Kidney Institute," Yu said, "is that, although these areas deal with very different facets of the kidney, there is such a synergy at the institute that we are able to overlap and work together to get better results ."