#NephMadness 2019: These Nephrons Know How to Party

NephMadness is a great way to learn about nephrology. And argue. Nephrologists love to argue. We also like to eat free snacks (more on that later). We want to share our experience completing the VCUrine group bracket and help other fellowship programs combine their love of learning, arguing, and eating.

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) is well-versed in March Madness. Our basketball team has been a stalwart in the NCAA tournament and made an improbable run to the Final Four in 2011 playing their aggressive “Havoc” style.

Team VCUrine after submitting NephMadness brackets in 2018. Photo by Niraj Kothari

Accordingly, VCU nephrologists are always a threat to win NephMadness. Just check out the bio of our Twitter handle @VCU_Nephrology: “Home of VCU Nephrology. Past and future NephMadness champions.”

We schedule the NephMadness party to occur during our weekly didactic session or instead of a case conference. Generally, we are able to complete the full bracket in about 90 minutes. Before the party, we ask the fellows and faculty to review all 8 regions on the AJKDBlog. On the actual day, our Bracket Master, Anna Vinnikova (@KidneyWars), presents the brackets and match-ups using these very useful materials provided by the NephMadness folks.

Then we discuss (argue) the merits of each match-up and vote—majority rules. We make sure our faculty experts on different topics are there to facilitate the discussion, but, in the spirit of friendly discourse, we do not take their votes for granted! The discussions have led to good journal articles for journal club and evidence to use during our discussions on consult rounds.

We encourage you to come up with contests within the contest, such as pitting fellows versus attendings or awarding a prize to the highest scoring individual bracket.

Oh, and speaking of food, here are highlights from last year’s party. In addition to being the VCU Bracket Master, @KidneyWars is also our chief party planner. For NephMadness 2018, we had an assortment of snacks based on different regions and topics:

Inspired by the Animal House region of NephMadness 2018

Inspired by the Animal House region of NephMadness 2018

Inspired by Team Proteinuria and the Transplantation Region of NephMadness 2018

Inspired by Teams SIADH and Cerebral Salt Wasting from 2018’s Hyponatremia Region

Inspired by the Contrast Region of NephMadness 2018

-Design and photos by Anna Vinnikova-

What about snack ideas for this year’s party? Well, we are not privy to the brackets until they are officially released on March 15. However, we did our best Carnac impersonation and tried to guess which topics will be featured…

Maybe the key to the NephMadness brackets is to follow the signs of the creators? Could this be a harbinger?

With that in mind, we threw out a few regions that could potentially be featured in NephMadness 2019, and provide the corresponding snack ideas for a hypothetical party below:

  • SGLT2 inhibitors are so hot right now. While amputating a fellow’s limbs in the spirit of NephMadness is not recommended, providing apple juice to represent the sweetness of glucose in your urine would be low hanging fruit and cleanse your palate for other delicious treats. We promise the subsequent drop in GFR is only temporary.

  • REPRISE was discussed last year and now Jynarque has been approved for ADPKD. Could we see a repeat? Depending on how liberal your chairperson is, you could have some frosty beers to remind you of the potential liver toxicity of this drug or maybe some polycystic kidney pretzel bites if you are fancy.
  • A nice assortment of caffeinated beverages or supplements could represent the AWAKEN study. Be easy with the Goody’s and BC powders…too much aspirin could make your ears ring.
  • Blood pressure reduction in barbershops was a beautifully done study of pharmacist-led intervention in this high-risk group. While we plan to shave the facial hair of various faculty members during our party, you could make any number of fine desserts with whipped cream representing that barbasol shave.

-Renditions of REPRISE, AWAKEN and Black Barbershops for hypothetical teams of NephMadness 2019. Design and photos by Anna Vinnikova.-


Have better ideas? The full bracket will be revealed March 15 – good luck trying to be the UMBC to topple this year’s #1 party seed, VCUrine!

– Post prepared by Jason Kidd @jkidd03 and Anna Vinnikova @KidneyWars, AJKDBlog Guest Contributors


If you missed our announcement in the NephMadness 2019 welcome post, we have a new Group Prize category this year: Best Party. Take a photo (or multiple) and tag #NephMadnessParty. We can’t wait to see all the creative ways you incorporate NephMadness into your curriculum! Details here.


Note: Updated March 19 with links to 2019 bracket, classroom materials, and region posts 


#NephMadness NephMadness 2019 | @NephMadness | #NephMadnessParty


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