His is the office of other Yale physicians go to when they are seeking guidance on how to care for a patient with kidney disease.
“Even the smartest of the smart will end up in his office because he has a critical-thinking mind, and he knows the medical literature better than anyone,” said Ursula Brewster, MD, professor of medicine (nephrology) in the Department of Internal Medicine at Yale School of Medicine. Brewster was speaking about her mentor and colleague, Mark Perazella, MDprofessor of medicine (nephrology), who during a 30-year career at Yale has achieved a national and international reputation as an educator in the field of nephrology.
In November, Perazella will be honored for his lifetime achievements in education when he receives the Robert G. Narins Award at the American Society of Nephrology’s annual meeting. The Narins Award is the society’s highest honour. Narins created the first educational programs for nephrology, which had been research-focused until then. Perazella describes Narins as “a visionary and pretty much a game changer. He was a person to look up to and to try, even mildly, to achieve what he accomplished for the American Society Nephrology and nephrology in general.”
As medical educators, “what we do is pass on knowledge to make sure patients get appropriate care,” Perazella said. “You can’t do that without educating the people who subsequently take the baton from you.”
Following in Footsteps
As a clinician, Perazella’s expertise is in treating patients with drug-induced kidney disease, allergic interstitial nephritis, and HIV-related kidney disease. He also has taught internationally for the American Society of Nephrology on the subject of onco-nephrology, which deals with cancer and kidney disease. Perazella also serves as director of the Acute Dialysis Unit and medical director for both the Yale Physician Assistant Online Program and the Yale Physician Associate Program.
Following in Narins’ footsteps, Perazella has developed a vigorous educational component for the section of nephrology at Yale.
“Even back when clinician-educators were rare breeds here, he set the standard of what one can be,” said Brewster, who succeeded Perazella as nephrology’s training program director, a position he had held from 2003-2014. “This excellence in clinical teaching made such a tremendous difference to generations of residents that came through here,” she added. “I think all of us recognized the difference having someone like him as a teacher made. He was a really devoted educator for us.”
As a mentor, Perazella met with newly hired faculty to help them plan their career trajectory. He also served as the senior author on the published papers that are so important for a faculty member’s career. Brewster calls Perazella “a one-man publishing house.” Of the 360 papers listed on his CV, 51% had a resident or a fellow, or a first-year faculty member, as the first author.
Nationally, Perazella was a nephrology subspecialty board member and item writer for the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM). He was co-chair for the National Kidney Foundation Annual Spring Clinical meeting in 2019 and chair for this meeting in 2020. He has served on educational committees for the American Society of Nephrology since 2008, and will be the co-chair of next year’s Kidney Week meeting in Philadelphia.
He also was chair of the onco-nephrology forum, a committee of the American Society of Nephrology. “We were able to start from a small group and turn it into a subfield of nephrology where there’s a journal dedicated to onco-nephrology,” he said. He is the co-editor of the Journal of Onco-Nephrology.
Perazella also has served as a co-medical director for the American Society of Nephrology’s board review course and updates. “This was a six-and-a-half day course for teaching nephrology and helping to prepare trainees, and those who were in the maintenance of certification phase of their certificates for the American Board of Internal Medicine,” he explained. “I helped to put together the coursework and gave many of the lectures. It was very satisfying for me.”
To be able to do this level of education depends on role models and mentors, Perazella said. At Yale, his mentors have been former nephrology Chief Peter S. Aronson, MD, CNH Long Professor of Medicine (nephrology) and Professor of Cellular And Molecular Physiology; Chief Stefan Somlo, MD, CNH Long Professor of Medicine (nephrology) and Professor of Genetics; John P. Hayslett, MD, a former faculty member who was widely known as an educator and for his work in lupus in pregnancy and kidney disease; and Margaret Bia, MD, professor emeritus of medicine (nephrology).
The Section of Nephrology has extensive programs in patient care, research, and education. We are committed to excellence in each of these three activities with the goal for both our faculty and our trainees to be national and international leaders in the field of academic nephrology. To learn more about their work, visit Nephrology.