R25 Training Program

  • UVA Nephrology
  • UVA Nephrology
  • UVA Nephrology
  • UVA Nephrology
R25 Training Grant: Kidney Technology Development Research Education Program (VA K-TUTOR)

The NIH-funded UVA Nephrology R25 training grant (supported by NIDDK grant 1 R25 DK124918) will provide an immersive research and education experience for technology-oriented students to participate in cutting-edge research in nephrology to generate “out-of-the-box” solutions for promoting kidney health.

Program Directors:
Mark D. Okusa, MD
Rahul Sharma, PhD
William Guilford, PhD

Mark D. Okusa, MD, FASN
Division Chief and CIIR Director
Division of Nephrology
P.O. Box 800133
UVA Health System
Charlottesville, VA, 22908
Email: mdo7y@virginia.edu

Why Kidneys?

Kidney diseases are a major cause of health-issues related deaths. Chronic kidney disease is the most common cause of kidney failure affecting 1 in 9 Americans, surpassing deaths related to breast or prostate cancer. Worldwide over 850 M people have kidney diseases. With diabetes and hypertension as contributing factors, a third of Americans are at risk of developing chronic kidney disease.

Overview and Target Audience

The VA K-TUTOR program will provide a rich environment to excite and recruit young talent to foster innovative solutions to benefit the 40 million people in the US with kidney diseases. The VA K-TUTOR will be a partnership of the UVA Division of Nephrology, UVA School of Engineering and Applied Science, UVA College of Arts and Sciences, and Virginia Tech School of Engineering to recruit and train undergraduate students for identifying problems in kidney research and finding novel solutions.


  • a) The training program consists of 2 parts:
    • A 10-week summer program aimed at identifying a clinical problem in nephrology and that includes:
    • Introductory coursework to learn about kidneys in health and diseases
    • Daily Clinical Immersion Bootcamp to understand clinical problems associated with the care of kidney patients
    • Introduction to methodologies used in clinical and laboratory research
    • Rotations in research laboratories to identify and develop research projects
    • Professional development programs to enhance career skills
    • Each participant will get a mentorship team consisting of a Clinician, Scientist, and Engineer/Technocrat to help with phase 2 of the program
    • Identifying areas of development in clinical care, clinical investigations, laboratory research or engineering design solutions
    • Generous financial support during the summer to offset travel, housing, and cost-of-living
    • Ample social activities and networking opportunities with other UVA SRIP programs & trainees


  • b) A 6 to 12-month (1 or 2 semesters) program aimed at identifying a solution either through research or design to the problem identified during clinical immersion
    • Continued mentorship by the team of advisors for the extended program financial, technical and logistics support to perform the identified research/design program
    • The extended program could be applied towards for a thesis, capstone project or research credits at UVA or VA-Tech
    • The participants will be supported to present their work at the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) Kidney week – the largest international conference on kidney diseases
    • There are four thematic areas
      • Infectious Disease Mitigation & Human Factors Engineering
      • Biomedical Engineering
      • Nanotechnology & Biomaterials
      • Data Sciences


Five participants will be selected from applications that are submitted. The application process is altered this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The eligibility criteria for VA K-TUTOR include the following:

      • Must be a full-time undergraduate college student in good academic standing at UVA School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, or College of Arts and Sciences, or Virginia Tech School of Engineering
      • Must be a US citizen or hold a permanent resident visa
      • Submission of the online application and supporting materials by the application deadline

Applications will be open Fall 2020 for the program beginning summer 2021 (contact Dr. Mark Okusa for additional information).

The VA K-TUTOR program is fully dedicated to promoting diversity in STEM education and promoting the participation of all eligible candidates as outlined in the University of Virginia Commitment to Diversity.