Robert Geoffrey Nelson, M.D., Ph.D.

Senior Investigator

Chronic Kidney Disease Section, Phoenix Epidemiology & Clinical Research Branch


Building PECRB, Room 604
1550 E Indian School Rd
Phoenix, AZ 85014

+1 602 200 5205

Research Topics

Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease worldwide and is a major cause of death and disability. Our research goal is to find the causes and identify new and effective treatments to slow the progression or prevent the development of diabetic kidney disease.

Current Research

Our lab has worked with the Pima Indians in Arizona since 1986, focusing primarily on the kidney complications of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Current activities include identifying biomarkers and underlying mechanisms for diabetic kidney disease and characterizing the structural and functional changes within the kidneys that occur with the development and progression of diabetic kidney disease. Gene expression in kidney tissue and epigenetic modification of gene expression is also a major focus of our work.


  • Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles, 1998
  • M.P.H., Harvard University, 1986
  • B.S., M.D., Loma Linda University, 1978

Selected Publications

  1. Schaub JA, AlAkwaa FM, McCown PJ, Naik AS, Nair V, Eddy S, Menon R, Otto EA, Demeke D, Hartman J, Fermin D, O'Connor CL, Subramanian L, Bitzer M, Harned R, Ladd P, Pyle L, Pennathur S, Inoki K, Hodgin JB, Brosius FC 3rd, Nelson RG, Kretzler M, Bjornstad P. SGLT2 inhibitors mitigate kidney tubular metabolic and mTORC1 perturbations in youth-onset type 2 diabetes. J Clin Invest. 2023;133(5).
  2. Bjornstad P, Chao LC, Cree-Green M, Dart AB, King M, Looker HC, Magliano DJ, Nadeau KJ, Pinhas-Hamiel O, Shah AS, van Raalte DH, Pavkov ME, Nelson RG. Youth-onset type 2 diabetes mellitus: an urgent challenge. Nat Rev Nephrol. 2023;19(3):168-184.
  3. Stefansson VTN, Nair V, Melsom T, Looker HC, Mariani LH, Fermin D, Eichinger F, Menon R, Subramanian L, Ladd P, Harned R, Harder JL, Hodgin JB, Bjornstad P, Nelson PJ, Eriksen BO, Nelson RG, Kretzler M. Molecular programs associated with glomerular hyperfiltration in early diabetic kidney disease. Kidney Int. 2022;102(6):1345-1358.
  4. Mitrofanova A, Fontanella A, Tolerico M, Mallela S, Molina David J, Zuo Y, Boulina M, Kim JJ, Santos J, Ge M, Sloan A, Issa W, Gurumani M, Pressly J, Ito M, Kretzler M, Eddy S, Nelson R, Merscher S, Burke G, Fornoni A. Activation of Stimulator of IFN Genes (STING) Causes Proteinuria and Contributes to Glomerular Diseases. J Am Soc Nephrol. 2022;33(12):2153-2173.
  5. Nelson RG, Grams ME, Ballew SH, Sang Y, Azizi F, Chadban SJ, Chaker L, Dunning SC, Fox C, Hirakawa Y, Iseki K, Ix J, Jafar TH, Köttgen A, Naimark DMJ, Ohkubo T, Prescott GJ, Rebholz CM, Sabanayagam C, Sairenchi T, Schöttker B, Shibagaki Y, Tonelli M, Zhang L, Gansevoort RT, Matsushita K, Woodward M, Coresh J, Shalev V, CKD Prognosis Consortium. Development of Risk Prediction Equations for Incident Chronic Kidney Disease. JAMA. 2019;322(21):2104-2114.

Related Scientific Focus Areas

This page was last updated on Wednesday, September 6, 2023