Today wrapped up the inaugural Origins of Renal Physiology course at Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory. It’s the first time this has been tried, and though there was significant uncertainty in my mind about what the course would entail, I am really glad that I had participated and I feel most consider it a definite success. I would highly recommend this course to other renal fellows–both those who are interested in a career in research as well as those with a more clinical bent.
In summary, the course included 6 modules on core topics in renal physiology, which included The Glomerulus, the Proximal Tubule, the Thick Ascending Limb, Understanding ENac, Water Metabolism, and (my personal favorite) a module on Salt Secretion using the shark rectal gland as a model system (allowing me to wrestle with an actual shark, as shown above). Each module is headed by a scientist (some nephrologists, some PhDs) with a special expertise in that area, and small groups are given the opportunity to design and carry out their own experiments. Each module was well-organized and in most cases, post-docs or lab technicians were readily available to help carry out experiments on a practical level. Every other day there is a large group meeting in which each module’s renal fellows describes their results in the form of brief presentations.
We worked pretty hard on many of the experiments, staying up well past midnight on some nights, but there is also adequate time allotted for exploring the amazing Maine outdoors. The lab is situated within a few miles of Acadia National Forest, and every other day there is some type of group outing planned, such as hiking, biking, or kayaking. This was a fantastic experience.