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Gregory Hundemer, MD, MPH

Award: KRESCENT New Investigator award
Institution: Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, University of Ottawa
Year: 2019-2022

Study title:  Characterizing Renal Outcomes in Overt and Subclinical Aldosterone Excess​

Dr. Greg Hundemer is a nephrologist and clinician-scientist at The Ottawa Hospital/University of Ottawa. He completed his nephrology training at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Massachusetts General Hospital Joint Fellowship Program in Boston, Massachusetts. During his fellowship, Dr. Hundemer was awarded the 2017 Young Investigator Award by the International Aldosterone Society, the F32 National Research Service Award and the K23 Research Career Development Award from the National Institutes of Health in support of his research under the mentorship of Dr. Gary Curhan and Dr. Anand Vaidya.
Dr. Hundemer’s research focuses on the effects of overt and subclinical forms of aldosterone (a hormone which stimulates absorption of sodium by the kidneys and so regulates water and salt balance) excess on renal and cardiovascular outcomes. Primary aldosteronism, a form of secondary hypertension defined by autonomous aldosterone secretion from the adrenal glands, is increasingly recognized as a common, yet vastly under-diagnosed, form of hypertension. Primary aldosteronism results in disproportionately higher rates of renal and cardiovascular disease compared with other forms of hypertension. The goals of Dr. Hundemer’s research are: 1) to identify treatment strategies to improve health outcomes in patients with primary aldosteronism; and 2) to study the long-term consequences of subclinical forms of primary aldosteronism on renal and cardiovascular health.
Lay Summary
Dr. Hundemer is a Clinician-Investigator in the Division of Nephrology at the Ottawa Hospital, an Assistant Professor at the University of Ottawa, and an Associate Scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. His research focuses on hormonal causes of renal and vascular disease, in particular overt and subclinical forms of aldosterone excess. His non-traditional background has been instrumental in preparing for a career in clinical research. Following medical school, while serving multiple combat deployments as a United States Air Force flight surgeon for the U-2 high altitude spy plane, he helped manage an outbreak of decompression sickness among the pilots through clinical investigation. The findings resulted in a government expenditure of $8.7 million in 2013 to increase the U-2 cockpit pressurization; no further episodes of decompression sickness have occurred since.
This unique experience sparked a passion for clinical research, resulting in obtaining a Master of Public Health degree from Johns Hopkins University concurrent with his military service. Following his service, he returned to medicine completing his internship and residency in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital (2012-15) and his fellowship in nephrology at the joint Massachusetts General Hospital/Brigham and Women’s Hospital training program (2015-18). During his fellowship, he developed a keen interest in the renal and cardiovascular effects of aldosterone excess.
Under the mentorship of Dr. Gary Curhan, he was the lead investigator for multiple high-impact studies demonstrating that the current guideline-recommended treatment approaches to primary aldosteronism are inadequate at mitigating adverse renal and cardiovascular outcomes. However, utilizing renin as a biomarker to guide therapy could dramatically improve outcomes in the future. The degree of renin suppression serves as a biomarker for subclinical primary aldosteronism, a condition affecting a large, but currently unrecognized, population.