DHHS, NIH News  
National Institute of Diabetes and
Digestive and Kidney Diseases

For Immediate Release
Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Mary M. Harris

Kidney Expert Named Director of Kidney, Urology and Hematology Research

Robert A. Star, M.D., has been named director of the Division of Kidney, Urologic, and Hematologic Diseases at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, by Institute Director Dr. Griffin P. Rodgers. Star has been acting director of the extramural research division since September 2006 and was appointed director Feb. 26, 2008, after a nationwide search. As division director, Star will oversee a $400 million program of grants and contracts.

"Dr. Star is an exemplary and creative physician-scientist, leader, and manager. A scientific leader, not just a manager," said Rodgers. "He rolls up his sleeves; steps up to tough issues; and attracts problem-solving, talented scientists from within as well as outside NIH to craft solutions. His approach allows us to take full advantage of scientific opportunities and public and private resources to improve the health of Americans through research."

"Each of the division's three major areas has different needs. I'm excited about continuing to lead the division to create and nurture vibrant and sustainable research and training communities that advance medical discoveries and efficiently translate clinical discoveries and basic research to solve critically important health needs," Star said.

Star was a postdoctoral fellow at NIH in the mid-1980s before joining the faculty of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. In 1999, he returned to NIH as a senior scientific advisor for kidney disease and to run a lab studying acute kidney injury. In 2002, he became senior advisor for clinical research in the NIH Office of Science Policy and Planning. There he worked on NIH Roadmap for Medical Research initiatives to re-engineer the clinical research enterprise. The Roadmap aims to stimulate research and develop research resources for cross-cutting, large and complex projects with profound potential impact. He also led training and career programs for clinical researchers and helped develop the clinical and translational science awards (CTSA).

Especially interested in translational research, Star's own innovative intramural work on early identification, prevention, and pre-emption of sepsis and acute kidney injury will continue. His research has produced more than 100 published manuscripts, and he has written 8 textbook chapters and holds several patents.

Star graduated summa cum laude in applied mathematics from Harvard College and cum laude from the Harvard Medical School-Massachusetts Institute of Technology Joint Program in Health Sciences and Technology. His internship and residency in internal medicine were performed at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago.

Star has received honorary awards and research support from NIH, FDA, biotech, and the prestigious Young Investigator Award recognizing excellence in nephrology research, jointly awarded by the American Society of Nephrology and the American Heart Association. He currently serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, a component of the NIH, conducts and supports research in diabetes and other endocrine and metabolic diseases; digestive diseases, nutrition, and obesity; and kidney, urologic, and hematologic diseases. Spanning the full spectrum of medicine and afflicting people of all ages and ethnic groups, these diseases encompass some of the most common, severe, and disabling conditions affecting Americans. For more information about NIDDK and its programs, see www.niddk.nih.gov.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

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