Core Investigators

Perelman School of Medicine at The University of Pennsylvania Scientific & Data Coordinating Center

Laura M. Dember, MD

Dr. Dember is a nephrologist and clinical investigator with a major focus on interventions to improve outcomes in end-stage kidney disease. She is a national leader for multicenter clinical trials and observational cohort studies including the Dialysis Access Consortium trials, the Hemodialysis Fistula Maturation Study, and the HiLo trial, all funded by the National Institutes of Health. She was the Principal Investigator for the Time to Reduce Mortality in End-Stage Renal Disease Trial (TiME), a large cluster-randomized pragmatic trial conducted in partnership with two large dialysis provider organizations as one of the initial trials of the NIH Health Care Systems Research Collaboratory. She is the Principal Investigator of the Data Coordinating Center for the NIDDK Hemodialysis Novel Therapies Consortium, Principal Investigator of the Scientific and Data Research Center for the NIH HEAL Initiative HOPE Trial, and Principal Investigator of the Scientific and Data Coordinating Center for the NIDDK Chronic Renal Insufficiency Cohort Study (CRIC). Dr. Dember has led projects for the Kidney Health Initiative, a public-private partnership between the American Society of Nephrology and the FDA to facilitate innovation in kidney disease treatments, is Deputy Editor for the American Journal of Kidney Diseases and is the Director for the Penn CCEB Certificate Program in Clinical Research. Dr. Dember is a graduate of Yale University School of Medicine and completed her internal medicine residency training at the University of Pennsylvania and nephrology fellowship training at Penn and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

J. Richard Landis, PhD

Dr. J. Richard Landis is Professor of Biostatistics at the Perelman School of Medicine at The University of Pennsylvania, and holds a secondary appointment as Professor of Statistics in the Wharton School. Dr. Landis serves as Director of the Biostatistics Unit within the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics (CCEB), and Co-Director of the Clinical Research Computing Unit (CRCU), a designated core research facility providing clinical research informatics collaboration and services for a growing number of clinical and translational research investigators at Penn. He is PI of the Data Coordinating Core for the NIH/NIDDK Multidisciplinary Approach to Pelvic Pain (MAPP) Research Network, and serves as Co-PI for the Scientific and Data Coordinating Center for the CRIC Research Network. Dr. Landis also serves as Co-Director for the CTSA-funded Center for Biomedical Informatics in Translation, promoting clinical research informatics best practices, and as the Director of the Biomedical Data Coordination Core (BDCC), a new core within the Abramson Cancer Center NCI Core grant. Dr. Landis has been actively involved in collaborative biomedical research, and the development and evaluation of methods for the analysis of categorical data. His publications are in the areas of statistical methods for repeated measurement and longitudinal categorical data, epidemiological studies, complex sample surveys and applications to cardiovascular, ophthalmology, respiratory, psychiatric, renal and urological research.

University of Pennsylvania-Renal Research

Raymond R. Townsend, MD

Dr. Raymond R. Townsend is a Professor of Medicine in the Renal Division at the Perelman School of Medicine at The University of Pennsylvania; the Director of the Penn Hypertension Program, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania; and an Associate Director of the Clinical & Translational Research Center component of the University of Pennsylvania's CTSA award. His principal research interests focus on the role of hypertension and in particular mechanisms of kidney damage that are related to pulse wave travel and pulse wave reflection in the circulation; and in the role of metabolism, specifically the linkages between insulin resistance and kidney disease progression in people with chronic kidney disease. These two areas (arterial stiffness and metabolism) link the role of hemodynamics (as reflected in both blood pressure and vascular stiffness) to a variety of outcomes in CKD including heart failure, cognitive function changes, retinopathy, CKD progression and vascular calcification. He is the Principal Investigator of the Pulse Wave Velocity in CKD ancillary project in the Chronic Renal Insufficiency Cohort Study (CRIC), and also the Principal Investigator of the Penn Clinical Center in the CRIC Study.

Johns Hopkins University ProHealth

Lawrence Appel, MD, MPH

Dr. Lawrence Appel is Director of the Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology and Clinical Research, a joint program of the School of Medicine and the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Appel is a Professor of Medicine with adjunct appointments in Epidemiology and International Health. The focus of Dr. Appel's investigative career is the conduct of clinical, epidemiologic and translational research pertaining to the prevention of hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and kidney disease.

Currently, Dr. Appel has three large, complementary research programs:

  • large-scale trials of dietary changes to prevent disease
  • behavioral intervention trials that test novel strategies to accomplish lifestyle modification, often focused on obesity
  • trials and observational studies to understand risk factors for chronic kidney disease progression and its complications

A particularly notable feature of this research is the focus on conditions and diseases that disproportionately afflict minorities and on interventions that have the potential to substantially reduce racial disparities.

Dr. Appel has been actively involved in health care policy. He was a member of the 2005 and 2010 U.S. Dietary Guidelines Scientific Advisory Committees. For the American Heart Association, he has been a member of its Nutrition Committee for over 10 years and a past chair. He has also served on several Institute of Medicine Committees and chaired the committee that set dietary reference intakes for sodium, potassium and water. He has served on numerous advisory committees for the National Institutes of Health.

University of Maryland

Jeffrey Fink, MD, MS

Dr. Jeffrey C. Fink is a Professor in the Department of Medicine with a secondary appointment in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. He serves as the Division Chief of General Internal Medicine at that institution. He founded and coordinates the Early Renal Insufficiency (ERI) program offering patients several opportunities for participation in clinical research at 2 clinical sites (one each at the Baltimore VA and University of Maryland Medical System). Dr. Fink's research background is as both a clinical investigator and a clinical epidemiologist with interest in all aspects of chronic kidney disease. His activities as a clinical investigator include serving as a site investigator for the NIH/NIDDK Chronic Renal Insufficiency Cohort Study (CRIC) and Principal Investigator of the Safe Kidney Care and Safe Kidney eCare studies. As a clinical epidemiologist he has conducted several secondary analyses of existing databases including the USRDS and national VA data and he is currently PI of the NIDDK-funded CRIC-Safety study, which is an ancillary to the core CRIC examining the influence of safety events on adverse outcomes among CRIC participants.

University Hospitals Case Medical Center

Mahboob Rahman, MD, MS

Dr. Mahboob Rahman is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University, and a staff nephrologist at University Hospitals Case Medical Center and the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center. His areas of research interest include hypertension, chronic kidney disease, and cardiovascular risk in patients with chronic kidney disease.

MetroHealth Medical Center

Edward J. Horwitz, MD



The Cleveland Clinic Foundation

Jonathan J. Taliercio, DO

Dr. Taliercio received his medical degree from New York College of Osteopathic Medicine in Long Island, NY. He completed his Internal Medicine residency and Nephrology and Hypertension fellowship at The Cleveland Clinic Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute, where he has been on staff since 2010. He is Associate Professor for the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine. Dr. Taliercio is the Associate Program Director for the Nephrology Fellowship Program and the Specialty Education Coordinator for the Internal Medicine Residency Program. His clinical interests include chronic kidney disease, resistant hypertension, and glomerulonephritis.

University of Michigan Hospital and Health Systems

Panduranga Rao, MD



Wayne State University School of Medicine

James H. Sondheimer, MD

James H. Sondheimer, MD is Associate Professor of Medicine at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, Michigan, where he is Interim Division Chief of Nephrology. Dr. Sondheimer is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and the American Society of Nephrology and is certified in Clinical Hypertension (ASH). He is a graduate of Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and completed his Medicine and Nephrology training at North Shore University Hospital and Memorial Hospital in New York. His research interests revolve around ESRD, CKD, and measurement of renal function, as well as trace element metabolism. He has been associated with CRIC at Wayne State since 2004.

University of Illinois at Chicago

James P. Lash, MD

Dr. James Lash is Professor of Medicine in the Division of Nephrology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Lash's research focuses on the epidemiology of chronic kidney disease and interventional trials in the treatment of kidney disease, particularly in racial and ethnic minority populations in the United States. In addition to being the Principal Investigator of the University of Illinois CRIC Clinical Center, he is the Principal Investigator for the Hispanic CRIC Study and the Fogarty-sponsored Mexican Chronic Renal Insufficiency Cohort Study based at the Instituto Nacional de Cardiología Ignacio Chávez in Mexico City. Dr. Lash is also the recipient of a Midcareer Investigator Award in Patient-Oriented Research (K24) which is focused on providing mentorship and training for new physician-scientists in the area of health disparities in chronic kidney disease. Dr. Lash has had considerable experience in recruitment and retention for clinical trials, including the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT), and African American Study of Kidney and Hypertension (AASK) Cohort Study, and the Angiotensin II Receptor Antagonist Losartan (RENAAL) Study.

Tulane Office of Health Research

Jing Chen, MD, MMSc, MSc

Kaiser Permanente of Northern California

Alan S. Go, MD

Dr. Alan S. Go is Chief of the Cardiovascular and Metabolic Condition Section and Director of the Comprehensive Clinical Research Unit at the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research. He is also Regional Medical Director of Clinical Trials for Kaiser Permanente Northern California and Associate Professor in the Departments of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Go is Principal Investigator of the Kaiser Permanente Northern California/UCSF CRIC Clinical Research Center. Dr. Go's research interests include characterizing the epidemiology of acute, chronic and end-stage renal disease; optimizing treatment and outcomes of cardiovascular and renal disease; prevention and treatment of acute and chronic kidney disease; epidemiology, management of atrial fibrillation, heart failure and ischemic heart disease; and genetic and other biomarker predictors of cardiovascular complications.

University of California, San Francisco

Chi-yuan Hsu, MD, MSc

Dr. Chi-yuan Hsu graduated from Yale University in 1989 with simultaneous B.S. and M.S. degrees. He obtained his M.D. from Harvard Medical School and completed his internal medicine residency at Boston's Beth Israel Hospital. Dr. Hsu went on to a nephrology fellowship at the Massachusetts General Hospital and graduated from the Harvard School of Public Health with a M.Sc. degree in epidemiology. Dr. Hsu has been at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Division of Nephrology since 1999 where he is now Professor and Division Chief. His research has been supported by the National Institutes of Health and focuses on the epidemiology of acute, chronic and end-stage renal disease. He is a member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation.

National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive, & Kidney Diseases, NIH

Afshin Parsa, MD, MPH

Dr. Parsa is Program Director in the Division of Kidney, Urologic and Hematologic Diseases, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health. As program Director, Dr. Parsa oversees research portfolios associated with the Program in Kidney Genetics and Genomics, translational and clinical aspects of Polycystic Kidney Disease, and a broad array of translational and clinical CKD related research. Dr. Parsa’s professional activities also include overseeing the design, analysis, and interpretation of clinical trials; and both genetic and traditional epidemiologic studies. Dr. Parsa is also involved in science and program management of various multi-institutional studies including: the Chronic Renal Insufficiency Cohort Study (CRIC); Preventing Early Renal Function Loss (PERL) allopurinol trial, Kidney Precision Medicine Project (KPMP) and the APOLLO consortium.

Tracy Rankin, PhD, MPH

Dr. Tracy Rankin is the program director for career development and training in the Division of Kidney, Urologic and Hematologic Diseases, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). She manages a portfolio of career development and fellowship awards encompassing all aspects of renal and benign urologic disease. Additionally, she manages a research portfolio focused on urologic complications of diabetes and molecular endocrinology of the lower genitourinary tract. She also serves as the program official for the O’Brien Urology Centers program. Prior to coming to the NIDDK, Dr. Rankin served as the program official for the Reproductive Medicine Network and the Specialized Cooperative Centers Program in Reproduction and Infertility Research (now called the National Centers for Translational Research in Reproduction and Infertility) at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. 


CRIC Scientific Discoveries

FGF23 elevation has been linked to greater risks of left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) and mortality in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD), but whether these risks represent causal effects of FGF23 is unknown. Here, we report that elevated FGF23 levels are independently associated with prevalent and incident LVH among CRIC Study participants.
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CRIC Collaborations

The CRIC Scientific and Data Coordinating Center at Penn receives data and provides ongoing support for a number of Ancillary Studies approved by the CRIC Cohort utilizing both data collected about CRIC study participants as well as their biological samples.
Learn more about collaborating with CRIC >>
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