Benjamin Cowley, Jr., MD

  • Position: Nephrologist
  • Primary Specialties: Nephrology, Transplant
  • Languages Spoken: English
  • Practice Started: 1/1/1987
  • Gender: Male

About Benjamin Cowley, Jr.

Benjamin D. Cowley, Jr., MD, FACP, FASN is currently Professor of Medicine and Chief of Nephrology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center (OUHSC). Dr. Cowley received his MD from Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX in 1981. He then completed an Internal Medicine Residency followed by a Nephrology Fellowship at the University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS, training with Dr. Jared Grantham, who was establishing a collaboration with Dr. James Calvet in Biochemistry. Dr. Cowley served as a Post-Doctoral Fellow in Dr. Calvet's lab, performing some of the earliest studies of gene expression in the hereditary disease, polycystic kidney disease (PKD). He then served as a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the NIH in Bethesda, Maryland, before returning to the University of Kansas in 1989 as a faculty member and resuming studies of PKD. In 2002, he was recruited to OUHSC as Chief of Nephrology and John Gammill Professor in Polycystic Kidney Disease.

PKD is the most common, potentially fatal hereditary disease in humans affecting over 600,000 individuals in the U.S. and millions worldwide. PKD causes renal failure in half of those affected. Dr. Cowley's longstanding research interest in PKD lead him to membership on the Independent Data Monitoring Committee (IDMC) for the TEMPO 3:4 trial of tolvaptan as a treatment for PKD. As a result of this trial, tolvaptan was approved as a treatment for PKD in Japan, Canada, and Europe. Dr. Cowley was then Chair of the IDMC for the subsequent REPRISE trial of tolvaptan. As a result of this trial, in March 2018, tolvaptan was approved by the U.S. FDA as a treatment for PKD. Thus Dr. Cowley played a pivotal role in the development of the first therapy specifically designed to slow the progression of PKD.

Dr. Cowley has played key roles in the non-profit PKD Foundation, which funds more research on PKD that any organization other than the NIH. Dr. Cowley was on the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) for the PKDF, ultimately serving as Vice-Chair and Chair of the PKDF SAC. He subsequently was on the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the PKDF, ultimately serving as Vice-Chair and Chair of the PKDF BoT. During his tenure on the PKDF BoT, he led searches for a new Chief Scientific Officer and a new CEO. While Vice-Chair of the SAC, Dr. Cowley initiated a 1-day national educational course on PKD at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Nephrology (ASN), leading that course 4 times over 6 years; this course will be held again at the 2018 ASN Annual Meeting. As an outgrowth of that course, Dr. Cowley co-edited a book entitled "PKD: Translating Mechanisms into Therapy" published in 2018.

Dr. Cowley is highly active in section clinical programs, providing consultative inpatient care at OU Medical Center and the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center. He also has a busy outpatient clinic, focusing on hereditary kidney diseases, and supervises the care of dozens of chronic dialysis patients. Dr. Cowley has a longstanding interest in renal and other solid organ transplants, Attending in the Renal Transplant Clinic at OUMC and in the Solid Organ Transplant Clinic at the OKC VAMC. Dr. Cowley serves as the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS)-designated Physician for both the Kidney Transplant Program and the Pancreas Transplant Program at OUMC, positions required by regulatory agencies. Dr. Cowley has also served over 10 years on the Board of Directors of the non-profit LifeShare Transplant Donor Services of Oklahoma (the Oklahoma Organ Procurement Organization or "Organ Bank"), serving as Secretary-Treasurer, Vice-Chair, Chair, and currently Finance Committee Chair. He served as the Region 4 Representative to the National Kidney & Pancreas Transplant Committee for UNOS.

Dr. Cowley also plays an active role in section educational activities, important for the education of Medical Students, Post Graduate Trainees, and other Healthcare Professionals at OUHSC. When Dr. Cowley first arrived, he also served as the Program Director for the OUHSC Nephrology Fellowship Training Program, ensuring the full accreditation of the program since his arrival. Dr. Cowley has been named an Oklahoma "Top Doctor" by Castle Connolly for the past 10 years.

Affiliations OU Health Physicians Building - Oklahoma City, OU Health Transplant Center, OU Health Physicians — Nephrology Clinic
  • Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. 2016
  • Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. 2017
  • John Gammill Professor in Polycystic Kidney Disease
Health Education
  • Medical School
  • MD Baylor College of Medicine
    Houston, TX
  • Fellowship
  • Post-Doctoral Fellow Biochemistry & Molecular Biology University of Kansas Medical Center
    Kansas City, KS
  • Laboratory of Kidney & Electrolyte Metabolisms National Heart Lung & Blood Institute
    Bethesda, MD
  • Residency
  • Internal Medicine University of Kansas Medical Center
    Kansas City, KS
  • Board Certification
  • Internal Medicine 1984
  • Fellowship
  • Nephrology University of Kansas Medical Center
    Kansas City, KS
  • Research Fellowship, Biochemistry University of Kansas Medical Center
    Research Fellowship, Biochemistry, KS
  • Board Certification
  • Sub-Certification in Nephrology 1988
Medical Interests Areas of Interest:
  • Polycystic kidney disease
  • Transplantation
  • General nephrology
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