Annual Meeting

WashU Nephrology/Transplant and IGSS Gather in Guatemala for 5th Annual Nephrology Symposium 

The 5th Annual Nephrology Symposium, a collaboration between Washington University Nephrology and Transplant and the Guatemalan Social Security Institute (IGSS) was held February 3-5, 2023, in Guatemala City.  The two centers, now in their 8th year of collaboration, are official “Sister Renal Centers” under the sponsorship of the International Society of Nephrology (ISN). 

Vicente Sanchez Polo (foreground) and Marcos Rothstein, organizers of the Annual Nephrology Symposiums.

The meeting, which provides an intensive update on topics ranging from basic science to clinical nephrology, was organized by Marcos Rothstein, MD, Professor of Medicine, WashU Nephrology, and Vicente Sanchez Polo, MD, Chief of Nephrology at the IGSS, who were delighted to again host the event in person in Guatemala this year, after a brief hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The last symposium, held in November 2020, was an international virtual-only event, reaching participants from Guatemala, the Caribbean, and other Central and South American countries. 

This year, approximately 50 attendees were at the symposium in person and another 50 or so attended on Zoom.  Seven faculty members from WashU Nephrology were there in person to present the latest developments in nephrology and transplantation (see topics below).  Two IGSS renal fellows, Drs. Ethel Acabal and Yulani Raquec, presented clinical case reports.

“This symposium was beyond wonderful,” says co-organizer Dr. Rothstein.  “The high-level talks were incredibly well-received.”  He was also excited to announce that the 5th Annual Symposium was a chance to celebrate the advancement of the WashU/IGSS “sister pair” to a “triad.”  The collaboration will now include the involvement of a Honduran “junior sister” headed by senior nephrologist Dr. Ovidio Calderon.

“The 5th Annual Nephrology Symposium was the largest, most attended ever,” says Medical Director of Transplant Nephrology at WashU, Dr. Tarek Alhamad. “Attendees were not only from Guatemala, but also from other Latin American and South American countries.  I hope to see the next year’s symposium grow even more with the development of the nephrology training in Honduras.”

“The trip to Guatemala was inspiring,” says Dr. Ignacio Portales Castillo.  “In only a few years, they created a new fellowship program in Guatemala that is academically strong and has now educated several nephrologists who are working in different communities of Guatemala, outside of the city, where people are more in need.” 

Portales Castillo said they learned of a case where a patient in a remote community was diagnosed with early kidney transplant failure by a nephrologist, which led to prompt referral and treatment.  “Neither the transplant nor the prevention of failure would have been possible without the new program, which has been greatly supported by WashU Nephrology.  I think that the exchange of experiences from people in WashU and Guatemala enriched us both.”

Another WashU participant, Dr. Gonzalo Matzumura, says, “It was a wonderful experience.  The passion and commitment that our colleagues in Guatemala have in caring for patients with renal disease in challenging conditions is inspiring.  It was a pleasure to be able to share and discuss with them ways that we can work together to improve health in Guatemala.” 

Going to Guatemala was an incredible experience. I was amazed and impressed how nephrology has evolved and developed there thanks to many angels, but especially Dr. Vicente Sanchez, who, through the nephrology fellowship, has been able to train many nephrologists and improve the care of so many patients with kidney diseases.  I told Dr. Sanchez he already has a spot in heaven. 

Dr. Massini Merzkani, transplant nephrologist, WashU.

The lectures, discussions, and witnessing the passion and motivations of his colleagues had a profound effect on Merzkani.  “It was an honor and pleasure to share and discuss with them,” he says.  “The phrase “Todo por la salud” is appropriate.  It means “All for Health.”

It should be noted that Drs. Alhamad, Rothstein, Merzkani, Portales Castillo, and Matzumura presented their lectures in Spanish.

WashU Nephrology attendees (from left): Drs. Tingting Li, Anitha Vijayan, Massini Merzkani, Ignacio Portales Castillo, Tarek Alhamed, Marcos Rothstein, and Gonzalo Matzumura.

Presentations by WashU attendees:

  • Massini Merzkani, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine and transplant nephrologist, presented “Long-term outcomes in living donor transplantation” and “Xenotransplantation.”
  • Ignacio Portales Castillo, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, presented “Vascular classification and calciphylaxis, pathophysiology and practical aspects of treatment” and “Clinical cases in the management of electrolytes: What is the proper management of hyponatremia?”
  • Tingting Li, MD, Professor of Medicine, presented “IgA Nephropathy: Update on Treatment” and “Out of the Shadows and Into the Spotlight: Monoclonal Gammopathy of Renal Significance.”
  • Anitha Vijayan, MD, Professor of Medicine, presented “When to start and stop renal replacement therapy in ARI? Is it as simple as it seems?” and “Expected and Unexpected Complications of Renal Replacement Therapy.”
  • Gonzalo Matzumura, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, presented “Radiological evaluation for the nephrologist – renal structure and function” and “Point of Care” Ultrasound in Nephrology.”
  • Tarek Alhamad, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine and transplant nephrologist, presented “Utility of Biomarkers in Transplantation” and “Long-Term Outcomes and FSGS Recurrence in Kidney Transplantation.”
  • Marcos Rothstein, MD, Professor of Medicine, presented “Hemodialysis as Expanded Therapy: a step closer to the Natural Kidney.”

On Twitter, please follow @NephroMaven (Rothstein), @visanpolo, @TransplantPulse (Alhamad), @Ting2li, @VijayanMD, @GMatzumura, @massini_me, @IGNACIOPORTALE4, @WUNephrology, ISN @ISNkidneycare, and @nefroigss.