Mentorship in the Digital Age: NephMadness and Beyond

Joel M. Topf, MD; Matthew A. Sparks, MD


June 29, 2015

Editorial Collaboration

Medscape &

In This Article

In April 2015, NephMadness wrapped up its third year. The editors of the AJKDblog,[1] the official blog of the American Journal of Kidney Diseases, created NephMadness in 2013 as a way to highlight the latest advances and controversies in nephrology. We were eager to counter the notion that nephrology had drifted from innovation to paralysis. Based on the annual NCAA men's (and women's) basketball tournament, the contest covers 64 unique medical concepts from across the field of nephrology. The social media game has now introduced 192 topics with only a handful of repeats.

NephMadness began with an offhand comment on a planning call for World Kidney Day in 2013. The idea of a weeks-long blogging campaign with audience participation was an audacious goal given our limited experience in online collaboration and coordination. In the ensuing years, we have learned a lot about what works and what doesn't. It has been amazing to see this germ of an idea mature into an international experience that touches so many people in our chosen field.

And the Winner Is...

This year, apolipoprotein L1 (APOL1) was the medical concept that emerged victorious over a competitive field. If you are only vaguely familiar with the importance of APOL1, we encourage you to read the semifinals post[2] by Dr David Friedman about the molecular mechanisms of APOL1 and the champion's post[3] by Dr Barry Freedman about the implications of APOL1 in patient care.

This year, 342 players from 26 countries registered and filled out a bracket for NephMadness. Nearly one half of the participants were nephrology attendings, and one quarter were fellows. One third of participants were women. From this competitive field, the duo of Drs Manjula Tamura and Yiming Lit from Stanford University and the Palo Alto VA Medical Center emerged to win the contest. However, the real winner of NephMadness was nephrology as a field. NephMadness is nephrology's largest contribution to the FOAMed (free open-access medical education) movement.

NephMadness continues to mature each year. Our team has grown in size and scope. The addition of the blue ribbon panel of nephrology experts to determine the winners of each match-up finally gave us a compelling answer to the ongoing debate on how to choose the winners of each match-up between concepts.


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