November 20, 2019—(BRONX, NY)—For Michal Melamed, M.D., mentoring means guiding people to do things they may not have thought they could do and helping them succeed at their highest level. During its annual Kidney Week meeting, the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) recognized Dr. Melamed, associate professor of medicine and of epidemiology & population health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and a nephrologist at Montefiore Health System, for her mentoring achievements and presented her with its Distinguished Mentor Award.
Just days later, one of her mentees, Wei Chen, M.D., assistant professor of medicine and a nephrologist at Montefiore, received the Young Investigator Award from the Chinese American Society of Nephrology for her work in vascular calcification in patients with chronic kidney disease. The award promotes the professional growth of nephrologists in North America of Chinese heritage.
“Dr. Chen is a force of nature,” Dr. Melamed said. “She’s very impressive – she knows what she wants and goes after it. She’s doing really well, getting funding and publishing papers.
“I had good mentorship when I was a resident, a fellow, and a junior faculty member,” continued Dr. Melamed, whose research interests include the epidemiology of, and ethnic and racial disparities in, chronic kidney disease, vitamin D deficiency, and the health consequences of metabolic acidosis, the buildup of acid in the body due to kidney disease or kidney failure. “I feel like I have to pay it forward. I try to push people to do the best that they can do.”
Dr. Melamed, who earlier this year received a mentoring award from the department of medicine, currently serves as mentor to two junior faculty members, four fellows, and two Einstein medical students.
I try to especially mentor women and people who may be underrepresented in medicine because I think that it’s important to get more people with diverse backgrounds into research.
Michal Melamed, M.D.
Several of Dr. Melamed’s colleagues nominated her for the ASN mentorship award. They lauded her reputation as a national expert in studying risk factors for chronic kidney disease progression and praised her drive, enthusiasm, patience, and advocacy for her mentees.
“I try to especially mentor women and people who may be underrepresented in medicine because I think that it’s important to get more people with diverse backgrounds into research,” Dr. Melamed said.
Dr. Melamed and Dr. Chen have common ground beyond nephrology research and clinical practice: Both have children and recognize the need to integrate personal and professional responsibilities.
Dr. Chen said that as a woman in science, Dr. Melamed “is an invaluable role model in terms of achieving a work-life balance. She has been there for me as a mentor since the very beginning of my research career.”
Researchers often experience failure more than success, she added; winning the Young Investigator Award “gives me new energy in tackling research questions and achieving career goals.”
Last year, Dr. Chen received a four-year, $791,000 grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases to investigate a method of using dynamic light scattering to measure calcification propensity in patients with chronic kidney disease. She plans to continue her own mentorship of several medical students and postdocs.
“Mentors like Dr. Melamed helped shape my professional and research career,” said Dr. Chen, who earlier this year was honored with the Department of Medicine Rising Star Award at Montefiore. “They have been extremely generous in sharing their resources and more importantly, time. As my career advances, I would like to contribute to this mentoring culture.”