VCKD Members


J Harold Helderman M.D., FACP, MAST

Department: Medicine


My specialty is that of Kidney Transplantation for over 30 years.  I maintain out-patient transplant clinics and a pre-transplant evaluation clinic at Vanderbilt and I am the Medical Director of the Transplant Ward at Vanderbilt Hospital. I regularly care for patients with complex renal transplant problems.

My clinical research interests involve the development of new immunosuppressive strategies, the pathogenesis and treatment of chronic rejection, the pathogenesis and management of medical complications of transplantation including infection, neoplasia, metabolic disorders including diabetes and bone disease and cardiac disease. Other research interests include the basic investigation into the regulation and description of lymphocyte activation pathways with particular reference to growth factor and cytokine receptors on T-lymphocytes. Using the model of the non-constitutive activation marker, the insulin receptor, I have developed an understanding of antigen-driven activation signals for the synthesis of new immunomodulatory molecules. Our laboratory has discovered a monokine which regulates early lymphocyte activation cytokine and growth factor genes called Monocyte Receptor Regulatory Factor (MRRF) and has purified this substance to homogeneity and sequenced it. More recently I have been involved in the clinical research arena studying several new immunosuppressive drugs including Deoxyspergualin, Neoral Cyclosporine, Sirolimus (Rapamycin),  polyclonal rabbit anti-thymocyte globulin, and the adhesion blockade afforded by belatacept. I was recently involved in a NIH trial of steroid withdrawal in Mycophenolate treated renal transplant patients. Chronic rejection its pathogenesis and management is a major part of my research interest. A 5-year NIH funded multicenter trial on this topic has begun this year testing conversion from calcineurin inhibition to belatacept.

I was one of the first presidents of the Kidney Transplant Society (currently the American Society of Transplantation), served on the national board of the United Network of Organ Sharing, represented transplantation on the Council of the American Kidney Societies and I am currently the President of the North American Society for Dialysis and Transplantation.  I am also the Associate Editor of the American Journal of Kidney Disease and on the Editorial Board of multiple kidney and transplantation journals. I will receive the Life-Time Achievement Award at the World Transplant Congress in July, 2014.

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