Tariq Shafi hopes that his research on improving care for people with advanced kidney failure treated with dialysis will be a game-changer. Already he and his colleagues have demonstrated -- for the first time – that residual kidney function (RKF), which is associated with improved survival in dialysis patients, can be assessed using blood tests rather than collecting urine. As urine collections are burdensome for patients and dialysis staff, and are prone to errors leading to incorrect estimation of RKF, this is a sizeable step forward in patient care.
Tariq received his medical degree from Dow Medical College in Karachi, Pakistan in 1990; his residency in Internal Medicine at Detroit’s Wayne State University followed. After several years in leadership roles at the Detroit Medical Center, Tariq decided to change direction and pursue his passion in nephrology research. Having witnessed how the advent of dialysis has changed the outcome for patients diagnosed with kidney disease, he wanted to contribute to this evolution of care.
In 2008, Tariq completed a Nephrology Fellowship at Johns Hopkins Hospital and an MHS in Clinical Epidemiology at the Bloomberg School of Public Health (BSPH). He then joined the Nephrology Division in the Department of Medicine. Now an Associate Professor, he holds a joint appointment in Epidemiology in the BSPH; he is Medical Director of Johns Hopkins’ Home Hemodialysis program and leads Point-of-Care Ultrasound (POCUS) research for Hopkins Center of Innovative Medicine.
Tariq’s current research focus includes Sudden Cardiac Death, the most common cause of death in dialysis patients. Through an NHLBI funded grant, he is studying arrhythmias contributing to this outcome by using implanted cardiac monitors that record electrocardiograms continuously for 3+ years. Recruitment is currently underway in Baltimore.
Also on Tariq’s research agenda is identifying uremic toxins, which cause uremic symptoms and heart disease in patients with kidney failure treated by dialysis. Using metabolomics, a laboratory technique which measures small molecules in the blood, Tariq hopes to identify these currently unknown toxins, which will change how doctors manage patient care.
In the education arena, Tariq has developed a curriculum for nephrology fellows to learn POCUS skills. These small handheld ultrasound devices that look (as Tariq says) like something out of Star Trek, are now considered highly innovative and are poised to change medical practice. Tariq is investigating how POCUS can improve patient care.
As the number of people with kidney disease increases, so does the urgency to improve their treatment and care. With researchers like Tariq at the helm, innovation and improved outcomes will not be far behind.