NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Former NIDDK Clinical Director Balow Retires After 50 Years at NIH

Dr. Balow headshot
After 50 years at NIH, Dr. James “Jim” Balow has retired.

After 31 years as clinical director in the NIDDK Division of Intramural Research and 50 years total at NIH, Dr. James “Jim” Balow has retired. Balow stepped down as NIDDK’s clinical director in 2020 and has since remained in his position as acting chief and senior investigator in NIDDK’s Kidney Diseases Branch. 

“With his knowledge on topics affecting NIDDK, NIH and the broader medical community, Dr. Balow has earned enormous respect from his peers,” said NIDDK director Dr. Griffin Rodgers. “His reputation for fairness and objectivity has made him a frequent go-to person for those seeking sage advice, and he has provided invaluable counsel to NIDDK’s Office of the Director over the decades.”

After a fellowship in nephrology at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C., Balow began his NIH career with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in 1972 as a clinical associate with Drs. Anthony Fauci and Shelly Wolff and developed the first in-house nephrology patient consult service at the Clinical Center.

After joining NIDDK in 1977, Balow developed a world-class clinical research program on immunologically mediated glomerular diseases. He quickly rose through the ranks at NIH, becoming chief of the CC clinical nephrology service and chief of the kidney diseases section in NIDDK’s Kidney Diseases Branch in 1984, before becoming NIDDK clinical director in 1989. He has held many leadership positions at NIH and within the broader scientific community, including chair of the CC medical executive committee, ethics committee, consult review committee, credentials committee and the NIH information technology management committee.

Balow has published more than 260 scientific papers and book chapters. Along with his longstanding NIDDK colleague Dr. Howard Austin III, Balow led establishment of the NIH standardized classification of the pathology of lupus nephritis and, with colleagues from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, established the NIH regimen of pulse cyclophosphamide for treatment of lupus nephritis.

NIDDK has launched a national search for Balow’s replacement. Dr. Christopher Koh, NIDDK deputy clinical director and senior research physician in the Liver Diseases Branch, has been serving as acting NIDDK clinical director since October 2020.

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