The annual dinner for nephrology trainees celebrates graduating fellows and recognizes one faculty member who has shown outstanding commitment and excellence in teaching. Erica Bjornstad, MD, MPH, announced this year’s Maestro Award winner at the recent dinner for 2019 graduates, and her speech reflected the collective thoughts and praises for Dr. Keisha Gibson, associate professor of medicine and pediatrics, chief of pediatric nephrology and director of the pediatric nephrology training program.
“On behalf of the clinical fellows, research fellows and post-docs at UNC Kidney Center, this year we are very proud and privileged to present the Maestro Award to an amazing teacher, a world-renowned researcher, a mentor to many, an astute nephrologist, and a strong advocate for social justice,” said Bjornstad.
“This nephrologist’s passion for nephrology and education are always quite apparent every winter as nephrology small group sessions break out into cheers, literally, and cheerleading maneuvers can be seen erupting from her classroom as medical students and fellows alike share in the fun of nephrology.
“Recognition for her dedication to teaching extends back to residency as she has been awarded multiple times for her excellence in teaching medical students. She can be difficult to pin down though, as she travels the world to advocate on behalf of children with kidney disease worldwide. She speaks at local, national, and international venues on behalf of children with kidney disease, advocating for improved access to research and pharmaceuticals for a population that is regularly left behind.
“Originally, from just down the road, she has been recognized as a true ‘Woman of the Triangle.’ She knows patients and families well. She can talk with them as if they were her own family, and her use of metaphors never cease to amaze us. For example, she describes how urinary stasis increases your risk of UTIs, ‘like a bucket of water sitting on a porch,’ or how albumin functions ‘like a sponge in your blood vessels to keep you from swelling.’
“A true role model, she was recognized by her former university, Winston-Salem State University, as one of the ‘40 Under 40’ awardee recipients. She sets an example for us all–women, minorities, and clinician-scientists alike–striving to improve medical care for all, breaking down barriers for all eager young minds to pursue their dreams, and pushing us all to be better than ourselves.
“It cannot be said better than a quote by a former student on her receipt of the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine award: ‘She truly sets an example for how we can all be better doctors and better people, and she is a bright light in every room she enters.’
“We present this year’s Maestro Award to our wonderful mentor, teacher, researcher, clinician, and friend, Dr. Keisha Gibson.”
The Maestro Award is given in honor of Professor Romulo Colindres, who has served as an outstanding mentor and role model for nephrology fellows throughout his career. Dr. Colindres is known for his craft in teaching the complex physiology of the kidney with great depth and precision, not unlike a legendary conductor leading a symphony orchestra, thus earning him the endearment “Maestro” from Dr. Joseph Aiello, a fellow at UNC from 1996-1998. Dr. Colindres has been a faculty member at UNC since 1972, and served as training program director for the nephrology fellowship from 1994-2009.