Carmen A. Peralta, MD, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Nephrology at the UCSF School of Medicine, was recognized recently with a 2010 Nickens Faculty Fellowship. Peralta is also a researcher at the UCSF-affiliated San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) awarded several of the Herbert W. Nickens Fellowships during the AAMC Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, in November 2010. The awards honor individuals who assist medical schools to achieve their diversity objectives and work to eliminate health care disparities. The Herbert W. Nickens Faculty Fellowship is presented to an outstanding junior faculty member who has demonstrated leadership in the United States in addressing inequities in medical education and health care; who has made efforts to address the educational, societal and health care needs of minorities; and who is committed to a career in academic medicine. Peralta received her award in recognition of her outstanding work in the field of racial and ethnic differences in kidney disease detection, progression and complications. Peralta received her MD degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She then pursued training in internal medicine at Harvard Medical School’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She completed nephrology training at UCSF. In 2009, Peralta received a K23 Career Development Award from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases to support her research on “Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Kidney Function Decline: Genes or Environment?” Peralta also received a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program award for her study, titled “Novel Biomarkers of Kidney Injury to Detect Persons at Risk for Kidney Disease: A Shift to Primary Prevention.” With this award, Peralta hopes to use multidisciplinary approaches to detect persons at risk for the development of kidney disease, particularly among racial and ethnic minorities in the United States. In recent research, Peralta and colleagues found that among patients with kidney disease in the United States, certain racial and ethnic groups – including blacks and some Hispanics – get sicker faster than whites do. Moreover, these differences in progression of kidney disease appear very early, before chronic kidney disease is actually established. These findings open the door to work in prevention of kidney disease, a new frontier in the field of nephrology. “Racial/ethnic differences are present early, before chronic kidney disease has been established,” Peralta told US News & World Report. The observed differences were not fully explained by traditional risk factors, which include cholesterol levels, weight, tobacco use, diabetes and high blood pressure, she added. The researchers reached their conclusions after examining the medical records of almost 5,200 adults in the United States whose kidneys initially worked normally. Based on five years of follow-up data, the researchers used mathematical equations to estimate age-related changes in kidney function The kidneys of blacks declined faster on an annual basis than those of whites – about 60 percent faster, judging by one method, the study authors noted. The study was presented at the American Society of Nephrology’s annual meeting, held in Denver in November 2010.