To help combat diabetic kidney disease through both treatment and research, Jefferson has taken innovative action by opening a new Center for Diabetic Kidney Disease.
Diabetic kidney disease is the number one cause of kidney failure in the United States and is also a risk factor for high cardiovascular mortality. From 1980 to 1994, the number of patients in Pennsylvania with end-stage or life-threatening diabetic kidney disease rose sharply, from 457 in 1980 to 2,048 in 1994.
In providing both treatment and research to check this disturbing rise, the new center draws on a new interdisciplinary team approach. Thomas Jefferson University Hospital's Divisions of Nephrology and Endocrinology collaborate to run the center.
Kumar Sharma, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Nephrology, JMC, and a basic science researcher in diabetic nephropathy, directs the center and helps supervise the clinical research studies.
Beckie Michael, DO, Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine, Nephrology, JMC, is center co-director, and Jeffrey L. Miller, MD, Clinical Director, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases, and Clinical Professor of Medicine, JMC, leads the endocrinology team.
"Our goal is to deliver state-of-the-art, coordinated care to diabetic patients with kidney disease as well as to perform clinical and basic research studies on how the disease develops and progresses," says Dr. Sharma.
"We coordinate with the primary care physician to optimize blood pressure management and to attempt to reduce proteinuria in diabetic patients. What makes our center unusual is our multidisciplinary team of nephrologists, endocrinologists and nutritionists who work very closely together," he explains.
"Previously, a patient would have had to see a nephrologist and endocrinologist separately for such issues as blood pressure and glycemic control, dietary modifications and electrolyte management. Now, patients benefit from receiving these treatments in one team-oriented setting."
"In addition, our research studies focus on why diabetes leads to kidney disease, what factors cause the disease to progress and what genetic predictors may exist. From our research, we hope to find new ways to interrupt the disease pathways in early and advanced diabetic kidney disease," says Dr. Sharma.