“A Passion and Love for Nephrology” – Sister Center Partners Meet in Guatemala for 2nd Annual Update in Nephrology

From left: Drs. Alhamad, Li, Vijayan, and-Rothstein

A contingency of Washington University nephrologists led by Professor of Medicine Marcos Rothstein, MD, recently returned from the 2nd Annual Update in Nephrology Conference held in Guatemala City November 15-17, 2018.  The conference is an academic program that spotlights the battle against chronic kidney disease in Guatemala, in particular MesoAmerican Nephropathy (MeN), an unexplained epidemic of chronic kidney disease prevalent on the Pacific coast of Latin America.

The conference was sponsored by the International Society of Nephrology (ISN) and the Guatemalan Social Security Institute (IGSS).  The WU and the IGSS nephrology centers are officially recognized by ISN as a B-level Sister Renal Center Pair.  Attendees from the Division of Nephrology at WU included Drs. Rothstein, Anitha Vijayan, Tingting Li and Tarek Alhamad.

The conference highlighted a variety of topics in clinical and transplant nephrology.  Dr. Vicente Sanchez Polo, MD, Chief of Nephrology at the Guatemalan Institute of Social Security (IGSS), and local organizer of the conference, opened the program.

From left: Drs. Sanchez Polo, Rothstein, Alhamad, Li and Vijayan

Dr. Rothstein, a recent recipient of the Neville Grant Award for Clinical Excellence, was co-organizer of the conference.  He delivered presentations on new guidelines for hypertension, new therapeutic options for hyperkalemia, and an update on onconephrology.

“The International Society of Nephrology-sponsored Conference was an outstanding success,” says Rothstein, “and it’s increasingly evident how our educational contribution is making a difference in Guatemala.  The Washington University faculty attendants valued the interaction and dialogue with the local physicians and were immensely gratified by the reception we received.  Every experience in Guatemala enriches us with new perspectives about kidney care around the world.”

Associate Professor Medicine Tingting Li, MD, discussed lupus nephritis, ANCA vasculitis, and therapeutic plasma exchange in nephrology.  “Every part of this trip was amazing,” says Dr. Li.  “The conference was well-organized and provided unique opportunities for knowledge exchange between the two ‘Sister Centers’.  The nephrology training program is outstanding with dedicated, hard-working and enthusiastic faculty and trainees.  I was touched by everyone’s passion and love for nephrology and their intense desire to improve the care of their patients.”

Attendees of the 2nd Annual Update in Nephrology Conference

Assistant Professor of Medicine and Medical Director of Transplant Nephrology Tarek Alhamad, MD, discussed antibody-mediated rejection in renal transplant and the benefits of kidney and pancreas transplant.  “I was really inspired by the dedication of the nephrology division to expand their services to rural areas, outside of Guatemala City, despite limited resources,” says Dr. Alhamad.  “Their kidney care for their peritoneal dialysis service is outstanding, with lower peritonitis rates than many other hospitals in the US.”

From left: Drs. Alhamad, Li, Vijayan, and Rothstein

Professor of Medicine Anitha Vijayan, MD, presented an overview of acute kidney injury, discussed the use of biomarkers in acute kidney injury and the practical aspects of continuous renal replacement therapy in acute kidney injury.  “Guatemala is a beautiful country with wonderful people,” says Dr. Vijayan.  “I was extremely impressed by all the nephrologists that I met, but particularly struck by the fellows who attended the seminar.  They were dedicated, eager to learn, and their presentations were top-notch.”

Casa Areana Convention Center

The seminar concluded with three superb case presentations by fellows from IGSS – Drs. Deisy Caro, Jackeline Flores and Henry Sama.  “Their talks revealed an in-depth knowledge of the literature, and their use of visual abstracts and other graphics to convey their message was extremely impressive,” says Dr. Vijayan.

The goal of the collaboration between WU nephrology, IGSS, and Roosevelt Hospital in Guatemala City is to train and educate clinical staff, upgrade clinical services, perform clinical research, promote community orientation in Guatemala and spread knowledge through publication.  The conference provides Guatemalan medical residents, renal fellows and attendings the opportunity to attend an intensive and informative seminar led by international physicians.

Follow Drs. Rothstein @NephroMaven, Vijayan @VijayanMD, Alhamad @TransplantPulse, Vicente Sanchez Polo @visanpolo and WU Nephrology @WUNephrology on Twitter.  See more pictures of the conference on the Division of Nephrology’s Facebook page.

The Agua Volcano overlooking the city of Antigua, Guatemala