WashU Nephrology welcomes our 2022-2024 fellows. We are proud to introduce:
Taha Mohamed Djirdeh, MD, earned his medical degree from International American University College of Medicine in Saint Lucia and completed his residency at Mercy Health GME Javon Bea Hospital Rockford, IL.
Taha helped found the Clinic Committee in the Internal Medicine Residency. “We were the first class of a newly formed residency, and I assisted in representing the residents’ viewpoints while providing personal input in helping develop, modify, and improve a the structure of the resident clinic.”
He was first author of the poster titled “Ischemic Stroke Following Starting Hypertension Medication,” presented remotely (due Covid restrictions) at the American College of Physicians Northern Illinois meeting in 2020, and the poster titled “Triglyceride-Induced Pancreatitis Secondary to Suspected Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis,” also presented remotely at the American Journal of Gastroenterology meeting in 2020.
The experience of living in six nations in three continents has provided Taha a strong flexibility in dealing with various situations and working in new, unfamiliar areas. “I grew up in countries where access to healthcare was woefully less available than here. This, I believe, has afforded me a humility in appreciating the severe stress that those who live in underserved communities may experience.”
The clinical aspect of the practice of medicine – the interaction with patients – is of utmost importance to Taha. “I intend to continue my career with a focus in clinical care. I have very little doubt that while the future is always unclear with regard to locale, style of hospital, etc., my path lies within a practice with emphasis on patient care.”
When not working, Taha enjoys sports and physical exercise (in high school, he was on soccer and basketball teams). He likes to read, keep up with current events, and is interested in the humanities including history, philosophy, and political science. With an interest in learning languages, he has a basic fluency of French, Spanish and Arabic.
Swathi Velagapudi, MD, earned her medical degree from NRI Medical College, Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, India, and completed her residency at The Brooklyn Hospital Center Brooklyn, NY.
“While internal medicine is my passion, nephrology is where I truly belong,” says Swathi. “The complex physiology piqued my interest academically – it seems simple initially, but you soon learn how little you actually know.” A personal example of this occurred when, as a medical student, Swathi experienced an antibiotic-induced acute kidney injury. “At the time, being a medical student, I thought I understood what had transpired, but little did I know the complexity behind it. Despite my lack of knowledge, I was unknowingly drawn towards the renal system and its physiology but, it wasn’t until late that I heard my calling.”
Swathi is first author of a case report “Syndrome with Clival Enchondroma in Nasopharynx: A case report,” published in Indian J Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg (2019, Suppl) and is co-author on “Inherited systemic hyalinosis: Role of surgery” published in Ann Indian Acad Otorhinolaryngol Head Neck Surg (2018).
When not working, Swathi enjoys reading novels and is an avid traveler. She would love to visit Japan and it is next on her list. Being physically active is also important. She has won multiple swimming competitions and has a particular interest in MMA and kickboxing. In medical school she has won medals for various sports competitions and was Captain of the throwball team. She is fluent in Hindi and Telugu.
Shelden Selas Rodrigues, MBBS, earned his medical degree from the Government Medical College in Thrissur, India, and completed his residency at Loyola Medicine MacNeal Hospital, Berwyn, IL.
Mentors played a crucial role in developing Shelden’s passion for nephrology. “The two-month internal medicine rotation during my internship, and the many rotations I had with my nephrology mentors during residency cemented my interest in nephrology,” he says.
After moving to the US for residency, Shelden experienced first-hand how “exciting and rewarding” a career in nephrology could be. His rotations at hemodialysis centers and access centers opened his eyes as to how difficult life could be for someone with kidney disease. “I realized how much of a difference I could make in their lives. These experiences reinforced in me the belief that nephrology is where I should be.”
Shelden has worked on multiple quality improvement projects, posters, case reports, and oral presentations during his residency and led a quality improvement project to increase advance care planning documentation in patients admitted to the hospital. He participated actively in multiple hospital committees: Internal Medicine Quality Improvement Committee, the Program Evaluation Committee, and the Resident Recruitment Committee. He believes that the WashU Nephrology Fellowship program will help him fulfill his goal of contributing more to nephrology research.
Shelden loves to travel in his off-hours. “Road trips are my favorite, and I hope to travel to all 50 states in the US; currently, I’m at 18/50!” He is an ardent soccer fan and takes effort to watch his favorite team play. “I want to travel to Milan one day to watch a game live at our legendary home stadium.” He and his wife enjoy cooking and experimenting with new recipes. “We discovered a new interest in gardening during the pandemic and are almost halfway towards filling our apartment with greenery!”
Follow @SheldnRodrigues on Twitter.
Marco Bruno Thierry, MD, earned his medical degree from Windsor University School of Medicine in Saint Kitts and Nevis, and completed his residency at University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley-Doctors Hospital at Renaissance (UTRGV-DHR) McAllen, TX.
Marco compares the clinical management of complex kidney pathologies to solving the Rubik’s cube. “I must have been 7 years old when I first saw a Rubik’s cube. That small, colorful, fantastically confusing cube intrigued me so much that I spent hours trying to solve it. I was unsuccessful, never able to get more than one face completed at a time. It was not until many years later that I realized there was a set of rules, algorithms, that if followed would solve it every time.” During his medical training, he saw a similarity regarding the kidneys. “At the start of my residency, I struggled with the clinical management of common kidney pathologies. However, what started out as a confusing subject, soon became an obsession and a very entertaining challenge.”
Volunteerism and community work were an important part of Marco’s life during his medical studies on St. Kitts and Nevis, a British Commonwealth island country in the West Indies. As a member of Students for Health he routinely set up stations for health checks, and as a volunteer for St. Kitts Children’s Home he organized fund raisers, food drives and clothing donations for the orphanage.
During his residency, Marco was elected by his peers as PGY-1 and PGY-2 Class Representative and subsequently became Chief Resident. He was also a clinical skills instructor for UTRGV medical students.
Off-hour activities and interests include powerlifting (he competed in the AAPF intro to Powerlifting in Lombard, IL) and Fantasy Football (he was league winner in 2016 and 2020). He is currently the starting prop for the McAllen Knights Rugby team. Marco is fluent in Spanish.
Looking forward to his time in WashU Nephrology Fellowship Program, he says: “And so, just like that magical colorful cube that fascinated me as a child, I am looking to learn the keys to master the management, or solution if you will, of kidney problems.”
Follow @MarcoThierry1 on Twitter.
Juan Eduardo Sanchez, MD, earned his medical degree from Universidad de Guayaquil Facultad de Ciencias Médicas, Ecuador, and completed his residency at Cook County Health and Hospitals System Program Chicago, IL.
A medical school nephrology professor is credited with inspiring Juan’s interest with the field of nephrology. “His ability to explain even the most complex acid base disturbances and electrolyte imbalances and their repercussions captivated me,” says Juan. “I was instantly hooked.”
He has worked on multiple research projects during his residency and has studied the impact of delay in kidney biopsy on prognosis and treatment in patients with Lupus nephritis. Juan plans to continue to be involved in research and wants to mentor and teach students who choose a similar path. “Perhaps I can pay tribute to my professor who ignited this same passion in me.”
In his down time, Juan enjoys play sports, particularly tennis and soccer. He plays the saxophone, is into fitness, nutrition, and video games. Juan is fluent in Spanish.
Abdullah Jalal, MD, earned his medical degree from St. George’s University School of Medicine Grenada and completed his residency at Overlook Medical Center Summit, NJ.
First introduced to – and intrigued by – the complex nature of the field of nephrology during his medical school internal medicine sub-internship, Abdullah remained captivated by the field during his residency. He was drawn to the strong emphasis on problem-solving and critical-thinking skills needed, as well as the opportunity to develop meaningful patient–physician relationships. “Given the complexity of patients with advanced kidney disease, nephrologists often become de facto primary care providers and their patients’ strongest advocates,” he says.
Advocacy and mentorship play an important role in Abdullah’s life. Early in his education, he was elected as one of the directors of the Mississauga-Brampton South District Association, a grassroots organization that serves as a link to the Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP). He went on to become involved in major electoral campaigns and community-based activism and advocacy organizations in Canada.
More recently, Abdullah has been active with several academic committees. As a member of the American College of Physicians (New Jersey) Resident Committee, he was involved in healthcare policy advocacy with state legislators in addition to facilitating community health projects. He was a member of the Research in Clinical Education Committee (Atlantic Health System), a multi-hospital committee that identifies potential barriers to academic research, facilitates greater involvement by residents and medical students, and improves access to resources. “Membership in this committee demonstrated to me the importance of creating a supportive environment through mentorship.” As an Overlook Medical Center Program Evaluation Committee member, Abdullah participated in the development of a mentorship program for incoming interns and worked to improve patient care transitions.
Future plans include teaching and serving as a mentor for others.
In his down time, Abdullah enjoys participating in sports (he recently won his residency fantasy football league). With his prior experience working on electoral campaigns, he pays keen attention both to domestic and foreign affairs. Finally, he enjoys traveling and experiencing different cultures. “While the COVID pandemic has prevented me from traveling during residency, I often watch travel videos in anticipation of my next journey abroad!” He is fluent in Bengali.
Keep up to date with our division @WUNephrology.