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Russell Chesney, MD, Chair of Pediatrics, to Receive Ira Greifer Award


Russell Chesney, MD, professor and chair of Pediatrics for UTHSC, has been selected to receive the Ira Greifer Award, the top honor bestowed by the International Pediatric Nephrology Association (IPNA).

Russell Chesney, MD, professor and chair of Pediatrics for the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), has been selected to receive the Ira Greifer Award, the top honor bestowed by the International Pediatric Nephrology Association (IPNA). Dr. Chesney is also an endowed professor who holds the Second Le Bonheur Chair of Excellence in Pediatrics. The IPNA is recognizing him for the remarkable research he leads to improve the care of children with kidney disorders worldwide, and for his vision and leadership in educating and training future pediatric nephrologists. The IPNA is an alliance of the global community of pediatric nephrologists and selects recipients for the prestigious award every three years.

Dr. Chesney will receive the award on September 1 during the 15th Congress of the IPNA held in New York, N.Y. The award is named for Ira Greifer, MD, pediatrics professor at Yeshiva University’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, N.Y. Dr. Greifer is an internationally recognized leader in pediatric nephrology.

Dr. Chesney has practiced as a pediatric nephrology expert for 38 years. He has served as chair of the UTHSC Department of Pediatrics for the past 23 years. In this capacity, he leads a national pediatric nephrology research network, and is involved in teaching and patient care at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital and the Regional Medical Center at Memphis. He has built collaborations between basic and translational scientists for nearly every division within Pediatrics, which includes research activities at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Dr. Chesney has also been fundamental in the recruitment, mentoring and retention of more than 100 faculty members in the Department of Pediatrics.

“Dr. Chesney’s record of research, clinical care and instruction has a tremendous impact on the prevention and treatment of kidney disease in children around the globe,” said Steve Schwab, MD, chancellor of UTHSC.

Dr. Chesney specializes in acute kidney failure, growth disorders, kidney disease, kidney transplant, Vitamin D deficiency, hypocalcemia, hypoparathyroidism, nephrotic syndrome, osteomalacia, rickets and renal osteodystrophy in children. Among his current studies, he is chair of a national clinical trial examining pediatric vesicoureteral reflux, a condition involving the abnormal movement of urine from the bladder into the kidneys. The study, Randomized Intervention for Children with Vesicoureteral Reflux, includes pediatric nephrologists, urologists and general pediatricians from 22 children’s hospitals across the United States. The clinical trial is funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (a section of the National Institutes of Health).

Dr. Chesney has published more than 320 original peer-reviewed articles and 200 chapters and is a preferred visiting professor at numerous medical schools across the nation. He has received numerous awards over the years and was recently bestowed the Founders Award by the American Society of Pediatric Nephrology. He has served as editor of numerous scientific publications, including Pediatric Nephrology, the journal of the IPNA. Additionally, Dr. Chesney is an active member of several boards focused on the work of pediatric nephrologists. Among them, he has served as vice chair of the Future of Pediatric Education Task Force and is currently a diplomat and member of the American Board of Pediatrics, serving on its sub-board in Nephrology.

Lacey Smith, interim dean for the UTHSC College of Medicine, Memphis campus, called Dr. Chesney “a remarkable man with an extraordinary record of accomplishments over a long and distinguished career, demonstrating great clinical and academic leadership. He has always cared about his patients, his students and his faculty. As far as his contributions to the field of nephrology, I am extremely pleased to acknowledge this prestigious, international and well-deserved award. ”

A graduate of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Dr. Chesney is married to P. Joan Chesney, MD, a distinguished expert in pediatric infectious disease. Although he has announced plans to step down from his role as chair of UTHSC Pediatrics, he will remain in that capacity until a new chair is selected. Dr. Chesney will then continue his role as a UTHSC professor — teaching, providing patient care and performing research at Le Bonheur.

The International Pediatric Nephrology Association is comprised of 1,500 pediatric nephrologists and related professionals representing 89 countries around the world. The experts are dedicated to promoting optimal care of children with renal disease globally through advocacy, education and training.