WU Nephrology and Guatemala Partnership Upgraded to Level A Status

Hard work and perseverance have paid off for the Sister Renal Center (SRC) pair of the Division of Nephrology at Washington University and the Guatemala Social Security Institute (IGSS) Renal Division.  The two nephrology centers were upgraded to an A-level status in the SRC program on January 1, 2019.  The SRC is a program of the International Society of Nephrology (ISN).

The scientific and educational interchange between the SRC pair is led by Marcos Rothstein, MD, Professor of Medicine at Washington University and Vicente Sanchez Polo, MD, of the San Carlos University Renal Division (at IGSS) in Guatemala.

ISN Sister Renal Center leaders – Dr. Vincente Sanchez Polo (foreground) and Dr. Marcos Rothstein.

The upgrade to A-level, the final stage in the program, is reserved for those few partnerships that show to be most promising in the development of centers of excellence in their region.  The ISN will continue to support the educational activities of the partnership for two years ($15,000 annually).  ISN SRC program helps improve how nephrology is practiced in emerging countries by linking emerging renal centers or units with established centers of excellence in the developed world.

“We consider this upgrade a great honor, as only a few ‘Sister Pairs’ have achieved such status in the Americas,” says Dr. Rothstein, who is a recent recipient of the 2018 Neville Grant Award for Clinical Excellence.

Unidentified Sugarcane Worker; photo credit PRESIDENCIA, Republica Oriental del Uruguay

The group of WU nephrology researchers, residents, fellows and staff, in partnership with the IGSS hospital system and Roosevelt Hospital in Guatemala City, has been studying MesoAmerican Nephropathy (MeN).  MeN is an unexplained epidemic of chronic kidney disease prevalent on the Pacific coast of Latin America, particularly Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Costa Rica.  The disease mainly affects young and middle-aged male laborers working in agriculture, specifically in the sugarcane fields, and in other occupations that involve strenuous work and heat stress.

The Sister Center partners recently met in Guatemala City for the 2nd Annual Update in Nephrology Conference, an academic program that focused on the battle against chronic kidney disease in Guatemala, MeN in particular.

WU and IGSS renal centers accepted into ISN SRC program in 2015.

The ISN officially welcomed the two nephrology centers into the introductory C-level stage in 2015, during which they received basic annual funds from ISN to help develop and support training links.  The SRC pair was upgraded to level B in 2017.

Once the SRC pair “graduates” after two years at Level-A, they are encouraged to establish an SRC Trio mentoring program to further enhance training and experience in the Guatemalan region.  For more on the ISN SRC program, see here.

Follow Dr. Rothstein @NephroMaven, Dr. Vicente Sanchez Polo @visanpolo, WU Nephrology @WUNephrology, and ISN @ISNkidneycare on Twitter.