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Division of Nephrology
  • Nephrology Group Photo

Division of Nephrology

Division Director: Joshua H. Lipschutz, M.D.
Division Administrator: Sandra Hurley

The Division of Nephrology at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in historic Charleston has a long and notable history in the study of and potential treatments for kidney disease. In 2018, the MUSC Health Nephrology team was ranked 46th in the U.S. News & World Report list of best nephrology programs, placing it in the top 1% of programs nationwide. Division faculty have worked diligently to foster this reputation by providing excellent clinical care, building a nationally prominent research program, and creating a stimulating educational environment for future Nephrologists. 

MUSC is the oldest medical school in the South (1824), and its Division of Nephrology is a nationally and internationally known academic program with excellence in patient care, investigation, and training. Several of our faculty members have been recognized recently for individual achievements. Rachel L. Sturdivant, M.D., received the Leonard Tow Humanism Award by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation for outstanding contributions to caring and nurturing in medicine, Daria Ilatovskaya, Ph.D., received an NIH R00 award as well as a Polycystic Kidneys Disease Foundation grant, and Deepak Nihalani, Ph.D., received a SmartState Chair and had his R01 renewed.

Patient Care

The physical environment of the Division consists of three hospitals (University Hospital, which houses the Division offices, Ashley River Tower Hospital, which specializes in cardiovascular diseases, gastroenterology, and hematology/oncology, and the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Hospital) and a number of satellite dialysis units, which are managed in partnership between the Division and the non-profit dialysis provider Dialysis Clinic Incorporated (DCI). Each year, MUSC nephrologists care for approximately 450 chronic dialysis patients in eight DCI outpatient hemodialysis units, the DCI home dialysis program, and the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Hospital (VAMC). The three hospitals are located in a four-block area of the MUSC campus which aids in facilitation of research collaboration, communication between faculty members, and in-depth fellowship training. Recently, chronic kidney disease clinics have expanded from the main MUSC campus to Mount Pleasant, West Ashley, North Charleston, and Beaufort. 


A number of our faculty members provide additional expertise in specialized areas: renal anemia, chronic kidney disease, education (Ruth C. Campbell, M.D., Rachel L. Sturdivant, M.D.), glomerular diseases, apheresis (Milos N. Budisavljevic, M.D.), global health (David W. Ploth, M.D., Zipporah Krishnasami M.D.), prevention of kidney stones and renal vasculitis (Tibor Fulop, M.D.), complex hypertension (Roberto Pisoni, M.D.), lipopheresis, peritoneal dialysis (Michael E. Ullian, M.D.), and polycystic kidney disease (Joshua H. Lipschutz, M.D. and Roberto Pisoni, M.D.).  All of our faculty members, 19 M.D.'s and 10 Ph.D.s, are active in research activities. Active collaborations between clinicians and basic scientists are ongoing, and collaborations with faculty from other divisions and departments are common. The faculty have expertise in clinical trials, whole animal models of renal disease, human and animal genetics, signal transduction, confocal microscopy, renal physiology, proteomics, biomarkers of renal diseases, glomerular disease, renal cystic disease, and the role of the renin-angiotensin system in renal disease. The Division holds five endowed chairs, including the Arthur V. Williams Chair (Joshua H. Lipschutz, M.D.), the Nephrology Research Chair, and the DCI Chair in Nephrology. Through the South Carolina Center of Economic Excellence, two additional SmartState chairs (basic science and translational) have been established for the study of renal disease biomarkers, and searches for nationally recognized scientists to hold these chairs are underway. Deepak Nihalani, Ph.D., holds the Brackett SmartState Chair, and the other is currently open and being actively recruited to. 


Our fellowship training program, under the guidance of Ruth C. Campbell, M.D., and Anand Achanti, M.D., (Associate Program Director) was recently reaccredited by the American College of Graduate Medical Education for five years with multiple commendations. The training program has 10 positions, and all five open positions in December 2017 (for 2018/2019) were filled in the match. Trainees have exposure to an extensive range of renal conditions and pathologies, including hypertension, fluid and electrolyte disorders, renal physiology, transplantation, acute renal failure, chronic kidney disease, hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis, and continuous renal replacement therapy across multiple settings: inpatient consultation services, outpatient clinics, and didactic conferences. Over 300 kidney biopsies are performed and read yearly at MUSC. Sally Self, M.D., is the dedicated renal pathologist that works with the Division. 

Kidney Transplant Program

Established more than 30 years ago, the kidney transplant program at MUSC has continued to expand. Under the direction of transplant nephrology section chief, Vinaya Rao, M.D., and transplant surgeon Derek DuBay, M.D., the renal transplant program performs nearly 300 transplants per year, rating it in the top 10 most active transplant programs nationally. This program now employs five full-time surgeons. The five transplant nephrology faculty members (Vinaya Rao, M.D., Maria Aurora Posadas Salas, M.D., Darius Lazarus, M.D., Karim Soliman, M.D., and Michael Casey, M.D., MS) are fully integrated with their surgical colleagues to optimize clinical care and research. We have an established advanced training fellowship in renal transplantation, which can accommodate one trainee per year. 


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