Aylin Rodan, MD, Ph.D., FASN, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine in the Division of Nephrology and Hypertension and Associate Director of the Molecular Medicine Program at University of Utah Health, has been elected to the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI).
The American Society for Clinical Investigation is a nonprofit that seeks to support the scientific efforts, educational needs, and clinical aspirations of physician-scientists to improve the health of all people. Founded in 1908, it is composed of more than 3,000 physician-scientists from various medical specialties.
Rodan is a nephrologist specializing in disorders of the kidney, electrolytes, and high blood pressure. Her research focuses on how the kidney responds to the modern high-sodium, low-potassium diet in adaptive and maladaptive ways.
“The kidney plays a central role in maintaining homeostasis of ions and water in the body, which is essential for the functioning of our cells,” Rodan says. “Underlying the kidneys’ ability to regulate salt and water is the vectorial movement of ions and water across cell membranes through transporters.” Her lab studies how ions and water are sensed by the body and how that vectorial movement through transporters is regulated.
“Dr. Rodan is an outstanding physician scientist,” says Rachel Hess, M.D., M.S., Associate Vice President of Research at University of Utah Health. “Her scientific superpower is the ability to identify unanswered questions in human renal physiology and to use the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster to generate novel insights answering these questions. Her background allows her to grasp potential clinical implications of basic research—realizing our University of Utah goals of creating a glidepath from discovery to human health.”
Rodan received her undergraduate degree in Biology from Yale University. She completed M.D./Ph.D. training in the Medical Scientist Training Program at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), followed by an Internal Medicine residency at UCSF. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship and nephrology subspecialty training at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, where she remained on faculty for five years before coming to the University of Utah in 2016.
At the U, she continues to practice nephrology, serves as the principal investigator of a National Institutes of Health-funded laboratory, and enjoys mentoring and teaching clinical and scientific trainees. “Dr. Rodan is really the prototype of physician-scientists who is also an excellent clinician and teacher in the laboratory, classroom, and bedside settings,” says Alfred Cheung, M.D., Chief of the Division of Nephrology and Hypertension at University of Utah Health. “The nation needs more role models for young people like her.”
Being a physician-scientist is part of Rodan’s identity, and she is committed to fostering the role of physician-scientists in the biomedical enterprise. She has served on the M.D./Ph.D. Admissions Committee at the University of Utah and is active in undergraduate outreach. She has also served on the board of directors of the American Physician Scientists Association (APSA). “Physician-scientists have a unique perspective due to our deep understanding of both science and clinical medicine,” Rodan says. “We serve as a bridge between those worlds to advance health through our own and others’ scientific research.”
Rodan is one of 100 physician-scientists to receive the honor from the ASCI this year. She is also the first woman among 22 current members from Utah to be elected to the American Society for Clinical Investigation. Her induction will take place on April 21st in Chicago, Illinois.