The National Kidney Foundation Announces Winners of Prestigious Annual Awards

Today the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) will virtually present its top awards to specialists in the field of nephrology who most exemplify the relentless efforts of the foundation to enhance the lives of patients through action, education and accelerating change.

NEW YORK, March 27, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Today theNational Kidney Foundation (NKF) will virtually present its top awards to specialists in the field of nephrology who most exemplify the relentless efforts of the foundation to enhance the lives of patients through action, education and accelerating change.

The prestigious awards are presented to those who work daily in the trenches mobilizing the fight for public health through education, research, and innovation for all kidney patients. The awards are part of his year’s NKF Spring Clinical Meetings.

The annual gathering of clinicians moved to a live-virtual meeting due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This necessary change will help ensure the safety of our patients, staff, volunteers and conference participants while still enabling NKF to provide the high-quality content SCM is known for in a new live-virtual format.


The Donald W. Seldin Award will be presented to Gary Curhan, MD, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston. The Seldin award was established to recognize excellence in clinical nephrology in the tradition of one of the foremost teachers and researchers in the field.

Dr. Curhan, a clinically active nephrologist, is Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Professor of Epidemiology at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. He received his MD from Harvard Medical School and his ScD in Epidemiology from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. He completed his residency in Internal Medicine and his Nephrology fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital.

The Public Service Award is given to someone who has dedicated their career to public service and has helped shape public policies or government programs that improve outcomes for kidney patients. The 2020 award will be presented to Alex M. Azar II, Secretary of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The Secretary’s most significant work on behalf of kidney patients culminated in July, 2019 when the Administration announced the “Advancing American Kidney Health” initiative, which outlined significant and ground breaking efforts to improve the lives of patients on dialysis; increase availability of kidney transplants; and eliminate all preventable kidney disease. With a great deal of work by Secretary Azar and the entire Administration, many of NKF’s most important goals became part of this transformative kidney health initiative.

The Dr. Shaul G. Massry Distinguished Lecture Award will be presented to Joachim H. Ix, MD, MAS, of the University of California San Diego. The lectureship was established to honor Dr. Massry for his scientific achievements and contributions to the kidney healthcare community and to the NKF.

Dr. Ix is Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Nephrology-Hypertension at the University of California San Diego. He is also Staff Physician at the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System. His research focuses on two main areas: understanding the contributions of kidney tubule disease on CKD progression; and evaluating new approaches to treat CKD related mineral bone disorders.

Josephine Briggs, MD, of the Patient-centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), Washington, D.C. has been selected as the recipient of NKF’s highest honor, the David M. Hume Memorial Award. The David M. Hume Award was created in memory of one of the National Kidney Foundation’s most distinguished members. In 1954, Dr. Hume was part of the team that performed the first successful kidney transplant at Brigham Hospital in Boston. This award is reserved for a distinguished scientist-clinician in the field of kidney and urologic diseases who exemplifies high ideals of scholarship and humanism in an outstanding manner.

Dr. Briggs is currently Interim Executive Director of PCORI, a position she assumed in 2019. From 2008 to 2017 was Director of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the leading U.S. federal agency for research on integrative and complementary health practices. She led the kidney division of the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK) from 1996 to 2007.

The Garabed Eknoyan Award to Kerry Willis, PhD, and Chief Scientific Officer of NKF. The Garabed Eknoyan Award was created to recognize individuals who have promoted NKF’s mission to make lives better for people with kidney disease through their exceptional contributions to key NKF initiatives such as the Kidney Disease Outcomes Quality Initiative (KDOQI) or clinical research in the field of kidney disease.

Willis started out in basic research, earning her doctorate in molecular genetics from NYU. She joined NKF in 1998, where she helped establish KDOQI, as well as, spearheading many scientific activities, public policy and legislative initiatives to improve the care of people with kidney disease through identification and dissemination of best clinical practices, promotion of earlier detection and treatment, and increasing access to care.

This year, Laura Dember, MD, of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, has been selected as the recipient of the J. Michael Lazarus Award, which was established to honor Dr. J. Michael Lazarus for his major contributions to the clinical science and care of dialysis patients, and to recognize individuals whose research has yielded novel insights related to renal replacement therapy.

Dr. Dember is a faculty member in the Renal-Electrolyte and Hypertension Division, a Senior Scholar in the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and the director of the Certificate Program in Clinical Research. Dr. Dember conducts patient-oriented research in chronic kidney disease with a focus on interventions to improve clinical outcomes for patients treated with maintenance hemodialysis.

Connie Rhee, MD, MSc, of the University of California Irvine School of Medicine, will receive the Joel D. Kopple Award, made to an individual who has contributed significantly to the field of renal nutrition. Dr. Rhee is a practicing nephrologist, physician-scientist, educator, and Assistant Professor of Medicine and Public Health at the University of California Irvine School of Medicine. Dr. Rhee pursued her clinical nephrology fellowship and postdoctoral research training at the combined Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Massachusetts General Hospital nephrology fellowship program, and also completed a Master of Science in Epidemiology degree program at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Dr. Rhee joined the University of California Irvine Division of Nephrology, Hypertension, and Kidney Transplantation as faculty in 2013, and she currently serves as the Division’s Director of Clinical and Translational Research; Director of Dialysis Quality Improvement and Associate Director of Outpatient Hemodialysis; Associate Fellowship Program Director; and Acting Associate Chief.

NKF will present the award for Excellence in Kidney Transplantation to Gabriel Danovitch, MD. The award was established last year to recognize a scientist or clinician scientist whose exceptional research has contributed novel insights in or resulted in improved access to kidney transplantation. The award embodies the dedication of NKF to help people navigate the challenges of kidney disease, organ donation and transplantation.

Dr. Danovitch, born in Cardiff, Wales, received his medical degree from St. Bartholomew’s Hospital of the University of London. He completed his residency training in London and in Bersheeba, Israel and his nephrology fellowship training at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. Dr. Danovitch served on the faculty at Albert Einstein and then directed the nephrology unit at Soroka Hospital in Israel. He currently holds the John J. Kuiper Chair in Nephrology and Renal Transplantation at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA with the academic rank of Distinguished Professor of Medicine and has received the school’s prestigious Mellinkoff Award.

The Medical Advisory Board Distinguished Service Award, which recognizes individuals for their educational activities and community service in promoting the mission of NKF on a local level, will go to Wendy St. Peter, PharmD, of the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy, in Minneapolis. Dr. St. Peter is a Professor in the College of Pharmacy at the University of Minnesota. She received her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center, where she also completed a fellowship in adult medicine.

Dr. St. Peter is an investigator with the United States Renal Data System (USRDS) and conducts pharmacoepidemiology and health outcomes research. She has served on several national technical expert panels for medication-related safety and quality measurement and is on the Board of Directors of the Kidney Health Initiative. She has served on her regional NKF Medical Advisory Board for many years, is on the national NKF Scientific Advisory Board, and has contributed her time and expertise to many NKF local and national projects, including the Spring Clinical Meetings, and local patient and professional symposia.

NKF will present to Erich Ditschman, of East Lansing, MI, the Celeste Castillo Lee Patient Engagement Award, which was established in honor of Celeste Castillo Lee, a longtime chair of NKF’s Patient and Family Council and leading advocate for patient-centered care and empowerment. It is the highest honor given by NKF to a distinguished kidney patient who exemplifies the foundation’s mission and Lee’s legacy of putting patients at the center of all aspects of healthcare through their involvement with NKF and community partners.

Ditschman is an exceptional, tireless advocate and peer mentor for kidney patients. He is an active and engaged member of NKF’s Kidney Advocacy Committee and regularly participates in NKF’s annual Kidney Patient Summit which brings patients and families from across the nation to meet with legislators on Capitol Hill. In 2018, Erich co-chaired NKF’s KDOQI Home Dialysis Controversies Conference which aimed to remove the barriers to home dialysis so that it becomes a viable choice for anyone on dialysis. Erich has been on home hemodialysis since 2006 and he is passionate about the benefits of home dialysis and positive impact on lifestyle.

A new award, presented for the second year, in the name of Carol Mattix, a home dialysis training nurse, who worked tirelessly to improve the lives of kidney patients, will go to Teri Jo Kinnison, RN, BS, CNN, of Tempe, AZ.

Ms. Kinnison has filled many roles during her dialysis career of 38 years, ranging from in-center nurse, clinical specialist on management teams, to quality assurance director. Over time Ms. Kinnison found she missed direct patient care and accepted an offer of patient care in an acute setting. She also enjoys working with new dialysis nurses to help them improve their patient care skills, not just run machines. For the past three years she has worked in home hemodialysis helping patients learn dialysis procedures and develop their abilities to manage their own treatments.

NKF Spring Clinical Meetings

For the past 28 years, nephrology healthcare professionals from across the country have come to NKF’s Spring Clinical Meetings to learn about the newest developments related to all aspects of nephrology practice; network with colleagues; and present their research findings. The NKF Spring Clinical Meetings are designed for meaningful change in the multidisciplinary healthcare teams’ skills, performance, and patient health outcomes. It is the only conference of its kind that focuses on translating science into practice for the entire healthcare team. This year’s Spring Clinical Meetings will be a Live-Virtual Meeting due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

NKF Professional Membership

Healthcare professionals can join NKF to receive access to tools and resources for both patients and professionals, discounts on professional education, and access to a network of thousands of individuals who treat patients with kidney disease.

Kidney Disease Facts

In the United States, 37 million adults are estimated to have chronic kidney disease—and more than 90 percent are not aware of it. 1 in 3 American adults are at risk for chronic kidney disease. Risk factors for kidney disease include diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and family history. People of African American, Hispanic, Native American, Asian or Pacific Islander descent are at increased risk for developing the disease. African Americans are 3 times more likely than Whites, and Hispanics are nearly 1.5 times more likely than non-Hispanics to develop end-stage renal disease (kidney failure).

The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) is the largest, most comprehensive, and longstanding patient-centric organization dedicated to the awareness, prevention, and treatment of kidney disease in the U.S. For more information about NKF, visit

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SOURCE The National Kidney Foundation