September 5, 2008

Pair lands Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grants

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Pair lands Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grants

Two Vanderbilt Medical Center physicians have received grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Uchechukwu Sampson, M.D., assistant professor of Cardiovascular Medicine, was selected for the Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program, a four-year postdoctoral research award.

Kim Smith, M.D., clinical fellow in Nephrology, was named to the Clinical Scholars Program, which provides postdoctoral training for young physicians interested in research and leadership careers in health policy and academic medicine.

Sampson, who is based at Meharry Medical College and VMC, will perform studies of inflammation in abdominal aneurysms.

The Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program was created to increase the number of faculty from historically disadvantaged backgrounds who can achieve senior rank in academic medicine.

Sampson is a native of Nigeria and attended medical school there.

“I got into the U.S. with lots of dreams, but they were almost impossible because I was not a graduate of a U.S. medical school,” he said. “Fortunately, this grant complements the wonderful support I have received from Vanderbilt, expands my pool of career coaches and mentors, and provides adequate protected time.”

Twelve Amos Scholars are selected each year.

They receive an annual stipend up to $75,000 plus a $30,000 annual grant toward support of research activities.

Sampson's mentors include Valentina Kon, M.D., associate professor of Pediatrics, Sergio Fazio, M.D., professor of Cardiovascular Medicine, and John Gore, Ph.D., director of the Vanderbilt Institute of Imaging Sciences. Dominique Delbeke, M.D., Ph.D., and Marvin Kronenberg, M.D., oversee his clinical imaging research efforts.

Smith is one of 29 physicians named Clinical Scholars. Next July she will begin training at the University of Michigan and will obtain a masters degree in research methodologies as well as mentorship through the program.

Smith is interested in improving the quality of care for patients with chronic kidney disease.

“Over 26 million adults in the United States are estimated to have chronic kidney disease, and current benchmarks suggest that there is substantial room for improving their care,” Smith said.

She is currently getting a head start by working with Kerri Cavanaugh, M.D., assistant professor of Nephrology, to explore the barriers that hemodialysis patients face in adhering to prescribed fluid restrictions.