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Nephrologist wants to personalize healthcare

Dr. Chike Nzerue credits his grandmother for getting him into nephrology.

“She suffered and eventually died from kidney failure,” he said. “She inspired me to go into medicine to help others not suffer like she did.”

One in four people in the United States have risk factors for kidney issues.

Prevention and screenings is what Nzerue wants to emphasize. Nzerue joins Dr. Quarrat Shamim at Cookeville Regional Medical Center’s nephrology clinic.

“When issues are diagnosed early, they can be treated,” he said. “Every patient is different. I want to know the person behind the disease and not lose that person to the disease.”

Nzerue earned his medical degree from the University of Nigeria Medical Center in 1988. He then went on to do his internship at the University of Nigeria Hospital, a residency at the Department of Internal Medicine at Texas Tech, and a renal fellowship at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.

He completed additional training at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, and Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona.

His professional experience includes a mix of clinical and academic positions.

“I feel like I did everything I could in the academic realm,” he said.

His research includes kidney disease in pregnancy, substance abuse and how lupus affects the kidneys.

“I want to keep an open mind in approaching the patient and the disease,” he said.

He has been working in a temporary position with Shamim in the nephrology clinic over the past year and has become actively invested in the community.

“I like this hospital and staff,” he said. “I’ve worked in Washington, Wyoming, and Georgia, and each place has its uniqueness, but Cookeville is different. It’s a good community here.”

One advancement he has seen progress over the years is dialysis.

“It’s more mobile now,” he said.

Nzerue is accepting new patients. Call 931-783-2902 to set up an appointment.


Kidney disease increases the risk of heart attacks. So how can people be more knowledgeable about what signs to look for and prevention?

Control your blood pressure. High blood pressure can constrict and narrow the blood vessels, which eventually damages and weakens them throughout the body, including the kidneys.
Visit your primary care physician. Talk to them about any issues you may have.
Get your urine tested. A urinalysis picks up protein levels in urine, which is a sign of kidney problems. If abnormal levels of protein is picked up in these tests, then it’s time to talk to your doctor. Kits can be purchased at any pharmacy.
Genetic tests can also shed light on possible kidney problems. Genetic disorders can cause kidney failure. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, chronic kidney disease heritability is estimated to be high (30-75 percent).
Watch what you eat. Your diet plays an important role in kidney health. Foods high in salt are high in sodium, which can increase blood pressure and harm your kidneys. Processed foods are also significant sources of sodium and phosphorus. Also stay hydrated, don’t eat too much meat and don’t drink large quantities of alcohol.
Make sure your diabetes is in control. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease. Poorly controlled diabetes can cause damage to blood vessel clusters in your kidneys that filter waste from your blood. Combined with high blood pressure, this can cause further kidney damage. About 1 out of 3 adults with diabetes has kidney disease.


What are some of your hobbies? I like to play golf, the saxophone and tennis. Fun fact: I’ve been to every U.S. Open until 2019. I also enjoy writing. I have two books published and I’m working on a play based on events that took place in Murfreesboro years ago.

What is your favorite place to travel? In the United States, I love going to Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area. Out of the country, I enjoy traveling to Jamaica.

Do you have kids? Yes. My son is at Georgia Tech studying computer science. My daughter is a med school student in Augusta, so I’m not too far from them.