Program History

A brief history of pediatric renovascular disease research and treatment at University of Michigan Health

1940s – For more than a half-century, Michigan Medicine has been a leader among physicians and scientists studying and treating hypertensive vascular diseases. In 1946, University of Michigan Health established the nation’s second ever dedicated hypertension clinic and, since that time, thousands of adults and children with complex and difficult-to-control hypertension received their care here. 

Internist Jerome Conn, M.D.  Surgeon Marion (Bill) DeWeese, M.D.

Left: Internist Jerome Conn, M.D. Right: Surgeon Marion (Bill) DeWeese, M.D.

1950s – In 1954, U-M internist Jerome Conn, M.D., discovered a curable form of hypertension caused by adrenal gland tumors producing the hormone aldosterone. And three years later, in 1957, the first aortorenal bypass was performed by surgeon Marion (Bill) DeWeese, M.D., successfully treating a second curable form of high blood pressure, renovascular hypertension caused by renal artery obstructions. 

In 1957, the University of Michigan hosted a seminal meeting of the world’s experts in the field of hypertension. This gathering on “Basic Mechanisms of Arterial Hypertension” included Irving Page, M.D., and Eduardo Braun-Menendez, M.D. who independently had discovered the protein released from kidneys causing blood pressure elevations. At that conference, they agreed to name that substance “angiotensin,” the critical element in renovascular hypertension. Michigan Medicine had become a magnet for those contributing to the understanding and management of this latter form of hypertension, especially that occurring in children. 

1970s – The University of Michigan Health’s experience at treating pediatric arterial diseases, including renovascular hypertension, was chronicled in 107 peer-reviewed publications and chapters, beginning in 1973 and most recently in 2021. These reports address renovascular disease genetics, cellular pathology, gross anatomic nature, renal renin production, drug therapies, catheter-based endovascular procedures, and open surgical therapy.

Vascular surgeon James Stanley, M.D.
Vascular surgeon James
Stanley, M.D.

1980s – In 1984, U-M faculty published the first monograph in the English language on renovascular hypertension, with scientists and clinicians from throughout the nation contributing to its more than 390 pages. Michigan Medicine was at the forefront of defining the causes and treatment of renovascular hypertension.

1990s – In 1994 the University of Michigan established the nation’s first multispecialty Pediatric Renovascular Hypertension Program. This formalized a large working group of clinicians who cared for children with renovascular diseases. Central to this group’s earlier efforts were vascular surgeon James Stanley, M.D., pediatric nephrologist Robert Kelsch, M.D., pediatric radiologist John Holt, M.D., and interventional angiographer Joseph Bookstein, M.D. The current program involves eight medical disciplines, nursing specialties, and basic sciences. 

Vascular surgeon Dawn Coleman, M.D.
Vascular surgeon Dawn Coleman,
M.D.

2020s – Children from throughout the world have been treated at Michigan Medicine, including those from hospitals in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, South America, and every major children’s medical center in North America, from Boston and New York to Seattle and San Diego. In 2020, Michigan Medicine initiated a Patient-Centered Outcome Research Program. Led by vascular surgeon Dawn Coleman, M.D., this effort involves direct participation of children and families affected by renovascular hypertension, as well as physicians from throughout the globe treating this complex disease. The University of Michigan’s knowledge of renovascular hypertension has its origin in its history of more than a half-century.