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​Faculty A-C


Tomas Berl, MD

Distinguished Professor

Dr. Berl served as head of the Division of Renal Diseases and Hypertension for 16 years. Board-certified in internal medicine and nephrology, his laboratory rec eived continuous NIH funding for almost 40 years. He served as a member of the American Society of Nephrology, International Society of Nephrology, American Society of Clinical Investigation, American Association of Physicians, and American Clinical and Climatological Association, and is the recipient of several awards, including the National Kidney Foundation’s David Hume Award. Dr. Berl has also served on numerous committees, advisory boards and editorial boards, and is the author of more than 110 articles in peer-reviewed journals, 85 book chapters, and 50 reviews and editorials. Notably, Dr. Berl was the president of the American Society of Nephrology in 2005.

Clinical Profile

Research Profile

Birgit Bispham, RN


Hemodialysis Access Manager

Ms. Bispham has 28 years of experience working with dialysis patients. Her responsibilities in the Renal Division include, but are not limited to, new dialysis access planning for all end-stage renal disease and chronic kidney disease patients, assessment of access complications, and evaluation for the purpose of determining appropriate intervention. Ms. Bispham is a strong liaison between surgical and interventional radiology associates, and educates both staff and faculty on vascular access for dialysis patients. 

Research Profile


Judith Blaine, MD, PhD

Associate Professor

Medical Director, Fresenius South Denver Dialysis Unit

Dr. Blaine focuses her research on podocytes, which are key components of the kidney filtration barrier, and the damage to podocytes that leads to protein leakage in the urine and progressive kidney disease. The goals of Dr. Blaine's research are to understand two basic podocyte processes: (1) how podocytes handle serum proteins, including proteins that may modulate immune system/podocyte interactions, and (2) how podocytes communicate with one another. In understanding these processes, Dr. Blaine hopes to develop targeted therapies to protect podocytes and slow or halt both glomerular damage and progressive kidney failure.

Clinical Profile

Research Profile 


Kathleen Brady, MS, NP, ANPC

Senior Instructor

Kate Brady has worked primarily on chronic kidney disease and end-stage renal disease for the past 22 years. She believes that every individual needs to be an active participant in his or her own kidney care and works to make this belief a reality through education.

Clinical Profile

Research Profile

Godela M. Brosnahan, MD

Associate Professor

Director, Fresenius East Denver Dialysis Unit

Dr. Brosnahan has worked in clinical nephrology for over 30 years. This work began during her residency and fellowship training in Germany, where she holds an unlimited board certification in internal medicine and nephrology.  She came to the United States in 1992 for a research fellowship in Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease and published several original papers. After her marriage, Dr. Brosnahan repeated her training and started a professional career in America. After a few years in private nephrology practice, Dr. Brosnahan’s interest in teaching took her to the University of Arkansas, where she served as Nephrology Fellowship Director. While in this position, she worked to expand and improve the program and, in 2009, received the Nephrology Fellows Teaching Award. In July 2010, Dr. Brosnahan came back to the University of Colorado to help manage a large clinical trial in autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease, known as the HALT PKD Trial, at the Colorado site.  She continues to work in and appreciate many diverse clinical, teaching and research activities.

Clinical Profile

Research Profile

John Carson, MD 

Assistant Professor

Dr. Carson completed his fellowship training in nephrology at the University of Colorado after a residency in internal medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, PA. He joined our faculty in 2015 after a year of private practice with Western Nephrology in Boulder County. As a clinician educator, Dr. Carson focuses his attentions on patient care and teaching medical students, residents, fellows, and advanced practitioners. His scholarly activity involves quality improvement in patient care. He manages hospitalized patients with acute kidney injury, chronic kidney disease and ESRD, electrolyte and acid-base disorders, and glomerular disease. In the clinic, Dr. Carson is particularly interested in nephrolithiasis and onconephrology, and has established a kidney stone clinic at UCH.

Laurence Chan, MD


Michel Chonchol, MD 

Mats Wahlstrom Professor of Medicine

Mats Wahlstrom Professor of Medicine Director, Clinical Research

Director, Polycystic Kidney Disease Research Program

Medical Director, End Stage Renal Disease Program

Dr. Chonchol’s primary research interest is exploring traditional and non-traditional risk factors in patients with kidney disease that could explain high death rates and cardiovascular events and kidney disease progressions. In particular, Dr. Chonchol focuses on four risk factors: abnormalities of mineral metabolism, hypertension, fatty liver disease and vascular disease. 


Sara Combs, MD, MS

Assistant Professor

Director, Denver VA Henodialysis Unit, Nephrology Clinic and Palliative Care Clinic 

Dr. Combs attended medical school and completed her internal medicine residency at the University of Washington in Seattle, after which she completed a nephrology fellowship at CU with a research focus on palliative and end-of-life care for patients with advanced renal disease. While in this program, Dr. Combs participated in the development of Renal Supportive Care guidelines at the 2013 “Kidney Disease: Improving Global Outcomes” Conference in Mexico City. After completing her CU fellowship, she returned to UW for a second fellowship in palliative medicine. In 2015, Dr. Combs joined the Division as a faculty member.  She is now based at the Denver VA, where she is the director of the Outpatient Nephrology and Palliative Medicine Clinics, as well as the Outpatient Hemodialysis Unit. Dr. Combs remains active in trainee curriculum development, educational activities for nephrologists, generalists, and palliative care providers, and scholarly work in the fields of palliative nephrology and non-dialytic management of end-stage renal disease.

Research Profile

James Cooper, MD 

Associate Professor

Program Director, University of Colorado Renal Transplant Fellowship Program

Dr. Cooper is a clinical transplant nephrologist caring for kidney donors and transplant recipients at the University of Colorado Hospital.  His research focuses on the patterns of donor-specific antibody development before and after kidney transplantation, their effects on clinical outcomes following transplantation, and the effectiveness of various antibody treatment strategies in kidney transplant recipients.  He is also involved in renal fellow education and in student education as co-director for the first-year medical student pathophysiology course.