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Eric G. Neilson, MD

A headshot of Dean Neilson

Eric G. Neilson, MD, is the Vice President for Medical Affairs and the Lewis Landsberg Dean at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. A medical graduate of the University of Alabama in Birmingham, he trained in internal medicine and nephrology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. After 23 years at the University of Pennsylvania as the C. Mahlon Kline Professor of Medicine, chief of the Renal-Electrolyte and Hypertension Division, and director of the Penn Center for Molecular Studies of Kidney Diseases, he moved to the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine to serve for 13 years as the Hugh Jackson Morgan Professor and Chairman of the Department of Medicine.

Neilson is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians, the American Clinical and Climatological Association, the Interurban Clinical Club, the Association of Subspecialty Professors, and the Association of Professors of Medicine. He has been a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of Biostratum Inc., and NephroGenex, Inc., and is the holder of two patents. Neilson is also a past recipient of the Young Investigator Award, the Barry M. Brenner Lecture, the Robert Schrier Lecture, the President’s Medal, the John P. Peters Award from the American Society of Nephrology, and a MERIT Award from the National Institutes of Health. In 1998, he was the recipient of an A. N. Richards Distinguished Achievement Award from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and, in 2003, he received the Distinguished Professor Award from the Association of Subspecialty Professors, now renamed the "Eric G. Neilson, M.D., Distinguished Professor Award." In 2006, Neilson received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Alabama Medical Alumni Association, and, in 2010, he was awarded the Robert H. Williams, MD, Distinguished Chair of Medicine Award from the Association of Professors of Medicine. He is a 2016 fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2021, he was awarded a Mastership from the American College of Physicians.

Neilson is an active teacher of clinical medicine and has trained numerous graduate students and post-doctoral fellows in his laboratory. He has a special interest in the training of physician-scientists, has edited a book entitled What’s Past is Prologue—The Personal Stories Of Women In Science At The Vanderbilt University School of Medicine to help mentor women interested in biomedical research, and has helped initiate the Vanderbilt Prize for women scientists. Twenty-four of his former laboratory students and fellows have become professors of medicine, twenty-seven of his former fellows and faculty are now department chairs, eighteen are associate/assistant deans, vice-chancellors, or provosts, and eleven have been elected to the National Academy of Medicine. 

Neilson’s earlier research program was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association, and the March of Dimes, and he has made important contributions to understanding the cell fate of fibroblasts in fibrogenesis, the expression of the nephritogenic immune response, and the biochemical characterization of nephritic antigens. He has published more than 300 scientific articles, reviews, commentaries, editorials, and books, and has edited, in collaboration with William Couser, MD, a major medical textbook entitled Immunological Renal Diseases. From 2007-2013 he served as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN), the leading kidney journal in the world.

Selected Bibliography

Strutz F, Okada H, Lo C, Danoff T, Tomaszewski J, and Neilson EG: Identification and characterization of a marker for fibroblasts: FSP1. Journal of Cell Biology 130:393-405, 1995.

Friedman JR, Fredricks WJ, Jensen DE, Speicher DW, Huang XP, Neilson EG, and Rauscher FJ: KAP-1, a novel co-repressor for the highly conserved KRAB repression domain. Genes and Development 10:2067-2078, 1996.

Iwano M, Okada H, Plieth D, Xue C, Danoff TM, and Neilson EG:  Evidence that fibroblasts derive from epithelium during tissue fibrosis. Journal of Clinical Investigation 110:341-350, 2002. 

Bhowmick NA, Chytil A, Plieth D, Gorska A, Dumont N, Shappell S, Washington K, Neilson EG, and Moses HL: TGFb signaling in fibroblasts modulates the oncogenic potential of adjacent epithelia. Science 303:848-851, 2004.

Bhowmick N, Neilson EG, and Moses HL: Stromal fibroblasts in cancer initiation and progression. Nature 432:332-337, 2004.

Venkov CD, Link AJ, Jennings JL, Inoue T, Plieth D, Dimitrova YN, Rauscher FJ, and Neilson EG: A proximal activator of transcription in epithelial-mesenchymal transition. Journal of Clinical Investigation 117:482-491, 2007.

Zeisberg EM, Tarnavski O, Zeisberg M, Dorfman AL, McMullen JR, Gustafsson E, Chandraker A, Yuan X, Pu WT, Roberts AR, Neilson EG, Sayegh MH, Izumo S and Kalluri R: Endothelial to mesenchymal transition contributes to cardiac fibrosis. Nature Medicine 13:952-961, 2007.

Zeisberg M and Neilson EG: Biomarkers for epithelial-mesenchymal transitions. Journal of Clinical Investigation 119:1429-1437, 2009.

Pedchenko, V, Bondar, O, Fogo, AB, Vanacore, R, Voziyan, P, Kitching, AR, Wieslander, J, Kashtan, C, Borza, DB, Neilson, EG, Wilson, CB & Hudson, BG: Molecular architecture of the Goodpasture autoantigen in anti-GBM nephritis. N Engl J Med 363343-54, 2010

Zeisberg, M & Neilson, EG: Mechanisms of tubulointerstitial fibrosis. J Am Soc Nephrol 211819-34, 2010

Rowe, RG, Lin, Y, Shimizu-Hirota, R, Hanada, S, Neilson, EG, Greenson, JK & Weiss, SJ: Hepatocyte-derived snail1 propagates liver fibrosis progression. Mol Cell Biol 312392-403, 2011

O'Connell, JT, Sugimoto, H, Cooke, VG, Macdonald, BA, Mehta, AI, Lebleu, VS, Dewar, R, Rocha, RM, Brentani, RR, Resnick, MB, Neilson, EG, Zeisberg, M & Kalluri, R: VEGF-A and Tenascin-C produced by S100A4+ stromal cells are important for metastatic colonization. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 10816002-7, 2011

Venkov, C, Plieth, D, Ni, T, Karmaker, A, Bian, A, George, AL, Jr. & Neilson, EG: Transcriptional networks in epithelial-mesenchymal transition. PLoS One 6: e25354, 2011

Bhave, G & Neilson, EG: Body fluid dynamics: back to the future. J Am Soc Nephrol 22: 2166-81, 2011

Song, K, Nam, YJ, Luo, X, Qi, X, Tan, W, Huang, GN, Acharya, A, Smith, CL, Tallquist, MD, Neilson, EG, Hill, JA, Bassel-Duby, R & Olson, EN: Heart repair by reprogramming non-myocytes with cardiac transcription factors. Nature 485: 599-604, 2012

Chen Jian Kang, Nagai Kojiro, Chen Jianchun, Plieth David, Hino Masayo, Xu Jinxian, Sha Feng, Ikizler T. Alp, Quarles C. Chad, Threadgill David W., Neilson Eric G., Harris Raymond C.. Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase signaling determines kidney size. Journal of Clinical Investigation. Jun;125(6), 2015

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