Award Recognition

Dr. Monica Chang-Panesso First Recipient of the Endowed Roger M. Perlmutter Career Development Professorship

Congratulations to Monica Chang-Panesso, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Nephrology, who was selected as the first recipient of the Roger M. Perlmutter Career Development Professorship.

The endowed professorship was established through a generous, $2 million donation from the Merck Foundation and named for Roger Perlmutter, MD, PhD, a world-renowned physician scientist who trained at WashU and, later, served as Executive Vice President and President of Merck Research Laboratories.  Funds from the endowment are aimed at helping support aspiring physician scientists from backgrounds underrepresented in medicine and science to become independent investigators.

“I am deeply honored to receive this award,” says Dr. Chang-Panesso.  “I do not have enough words to express my gratitude!”

After emigrating to the United States from Colombia at the age of 18, Chang-Panesso went on to complete her undergraduate degree in biochemistry at the University of Texas at Arlington and then earned her medical degree from the Texas Tech University School of Medicine.  During this time, she received the Jacquelyn Hall-Werner Award, which recognized her outstanding humanities project based on patient-doctor relationships.

Chang-Panesso completed her internship and residency training in internal medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern.  Indicative of the admiration and respect of her peers, she was voted the “House Staff Officer of Excellence” by her fellow residents, an award that went to the best team player during challenging and intense rotations.

With an interest in nephrology, she worked extra hours to do elective research with Orson Moe, MD, a prominent academic nephrologist who studies proximal tubule sodium transport and acute kidney injury.  Her project examined the role of Klotho in acute kidney injury.  In 2014, her first-author paper describing this work was published in Kidney International and she was awarded the NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship to study the transcription factor Meis1 during kidney injury and aging. 

She was accepted to the combined Massachusetts General Hospital/Brigham and Women’s Hospital Nephrology Fellowship, where she excelled during her clinical year.  She was universally admired as a quiet leader by her faculty, and they voted her to receive the Nathan Hellman MD, PhD Memorial Award, which went to the one renal fellow (out of nine per year) who best represents Nathan’s qualities, including compassionate care, leadership and scientific inquiry.  

Since joining WashU Division of Nephrology in 2015, Chang-Panesso has demonstrated a passion for bench research in addition to her clinical duties.  As a member of the Humphreys Laboratory, she is co-author on multiple publications, as well as being first author of a manuscript published in American Journal of Physiology-Renal in 2018 and first author of the landmark article in the Journal of Clinical Investigation in 2019 entitled “FoxM1 drives proximal tubule proliferation during repair from acute kidney injury.”  Her review, “Acute Kidney Injury and Aging,” was just published in the October 2021 issue of Pediatric Nephrology.  She currently has a five year, K08 Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development Award to study tubular senescence and proliferative capacity of the aging kidney.

“We in nephrology have a tremendous need for highly trained physician-scientists to translate advances from the basic realm to the bedside,” says Benjamin Humphreys, MD, PhD, Joseph A. Friedman Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Nephrology.  “Dr. Chang-Panesso will serve as a future mentor for other women and under-represented in medicine and science trainees.  Role models like her in biomedical science are desperately needed.”

“I am extremely thankful for all the mentorship and support I have received from Dr. Humphreys and everyone in the Division,” says Chang-Panesso. 

See the WashU news release of the endowed Roger M. Perlmutter Career Development Professorship here.

Dr. Roger M Pulmetter (credit: Dominick Reuter)