The Vanderbilt Kidney Center in Nashville offers world-class care for a wide range of kidney diseases. We strive to offer personalized, compassionate care to every patient. We also provide educational opportunities and perform advanced research on new approaches to treat and cure kidney disease.

Vanderbilt Nephrology is among the top 10 programs in the country and the only top-ranked nephrology program in Tennessee, according to U.S. News & World Report. We are national leaders in research and treatment for kidney disease.

Our nephrologists are particularly skilled in the following areas:

  • Diagnosis and treatment of electrolyte imbalance
  • Evaluation and treatment of complex causes of high blood pressure
  • Evaluation and treatment of kidney function abnormalities
  • Long-term treatment of chronic kidney disease


Chronic kidney disease causes kidneys to lose their ability to filter and remove waste and extra fluids from the body. The hemodialysis process uses a synthetic membrane to:

  • Clear wastes, such as urea, from the blood
  • Restore the proper balance of minerals called electrolytes in the blood
  • Eliminate extra fluid from the body

Before a patient can undergo hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis, we must surgically create an access point that makes it possible to enter the patient's bloodstream.

The different types of access for dialysis include:

  • Hemodialysis catheter: We insert a catheter (tube) into a vein in the neck or chest when the patient requires hemodialysis quickly. For long-term hemodialysis, we create a permanent access point, usually in the lower arm.
  • Fistula. We create a large channel called a fistula by connecting an artery to a vein in the patient's lower arm. A fistula allows repeated access for dialysis.
  • Man-made fistula or graft: A synthetic channel called a PTFE or Gore-Tex graft is the most common type of access that we create for hemodialysis.

  • Peritoneal dialysis: This requires placing a catheter (tube) into the patient's belly. We do this 10 to 14 days before dialysis treatments start. Peritoneal dialysis uses a natural filter, a membrane inside the body, to clear wastes and extra fluid from the body and to normalize electrolyte levels. We train our patients to apply this method of dialysis by themselves.

We offer daytime and nighttime dialysis services in two locations.

Kidney Biopsy

During this diagnostic procedure, a small sample of kidney tissue is removed through a needle and examined under a microscope for signs of cancer, infection or other diseases.


Apheresis removes a specific part of a patient's blood, and returns the rest of the blood parts to the patient. This procedure can be ordered by many different specialists, but is performed by Vanderbilt nephrologists.

Clinical Trials

Click here for a current list of clinical trials.

We conduct multi-center clinical trials in the areas of kidney disease, hypertension, and diabetes. Our areas of study include:

  • Preventing the progression of kidney disease, especially hypertensive (high blood pressure-caused) nephrosclerosis and diabetic nephropathy (kidney disease)
  • Improving dialysis
  • Reversing and shortening the course of acute renal failure
  • Reducing effects of chronic renal failure
  • Testing new anti-rejection drugs for kidney transplant recipients

Julia Lewis, M.D. is the director of the Clinical Trials Center and is supported by a staff experienced in clinical trials research.

Kidney Transplant

For more than 50 years, Vanderbilt has offered excellent care to kidney transplant patients. We have cared for roughly 5,000 transplants and we are recognized as a leading referral center in the Southeast. Visit the Vanderbilt Transplant site to learn more.

Research and education

The Vanderbilt Center for Kidney Disease promotes cutting edge basic and translational research into the causes, therapies and cures for kidney disease. The center also works to inform and inspire patients, professionals, and the public about innovations in research, training, and personalized kidney care. To learn more about our academic and research programs, visit