Important Milestones in NKF History

book icon

NKF: The First 40 Years

A memorial book about NKF’s early history.

1950 — First meeting of the Committee for Nephrosis Research is held.

1964 -- NKF published Proposal by The National Kidney Foundation for Kidney Programs under the Division of Chronic Diseases of the United States Public Health Service. The U.S. Public Health Service covered no programs related to kidney disease at that time.

1968 — First 13 NKF research fellowships awarded.

1968 — NKF advocates for, and participates in, the drafting and passing of the 1968 Uniform Anatomical Gift Act and, in the following decades, distributes tens of millions of kidney donor cards throughout the country.

1972 — Medicare End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) benefit is established, providing federal government financing for nearly all Americans with kidney failure, the only federally funded chronic disease care program for individuals who do not otherwise qualify for Medicare due to age or due to Social Security Disability to date

1972 — Councils on Renal Nutrition and Nephrology Social Work are established; NKF annual research awards pass $1 million mark.

1976— Council of Nephrology Nurses and Technicians is established.

1980 — Research grant programs instituted by NKF's Councils for nurses, dietitians and social workers.

1984 — NKF establishes Research Endowment Fund to support research and training agenda.

1984 — National Transplant Act passes with NKF's strong leadership.

1987 — First NKF Young Investigator Grants awarded.

1990 — NKF organizes the first U.S. Transplant Games in Indiana; the annual event continued to grow, increasing awareness for 20 years, involving thousands of transplant athletes and their supporters.

1990 — NKF annual research funding passes $2 million mark.

1992 — NKF's first Spring Clinical Nephrology Meetings. From that pilot event, SCM has now grown to 8 specialized professional program tracks, encompassing all kidney healthcare disciplines, with more than 3,000 attendees each year, and is a major event for kidney healthcare professionals across the country. 

1995 — NKF's Kidney Disease Outcomes Quality Initiative (KDOQI®) launches, establishing clinical practice guidelines to improve patient care in key areas.

1997 — NKF's Kidney Early Evaluation Program (KEEP®), designed to detect kidney disease at its earliest stage, is developed; NKF annual research funding passes $3 million mark.

1999 – NKF joins other organizations in support to help pass the Organ Donor Leave Act (Public Law 106–56), providing federal civil servants who serve as a living organ donor with up to 30 days paid leave in addition to their sick leave and annual leave.

2002 — Kidney Disease: Improving Global Outcomes (KDIGO®) is created, developing and promoting clinical guidelines worldwide.

2002 — NKF's opposition to financial incentives for organ donation leads to defeat of this controversial provision in the U.S. Congress.

2002 — NKF secures congressional support to establish the National Living Donor Assistance Center to assist donors with unreimbursed expenses related to living donation.

2003 — NKF's Kidney Learning System (KLS; later Kidney Learning Solutions) launches, providing comprehensive educational tools about chronic kidney disease.

2005 — NKF's patient empowerment and advocacy group is established (later People Like Us and Voices for Kidney Health®).

2006 — NKF secures Congressional funding for the chronic kidney disease (CKD) Initiative at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

2007 — NKF launches the Take Action Network to support our advocates' efforts.

2007 — NKF's KEEP program screens 100,000th person in the U.S.

2007 – NKF joins other organizations to help pass legislation clarifying that paired kidney donation and kidney donor chains do not violate the National Organ Transplant Act.

2008 — After severe flooding in the U.S., NKF provides financial assistance to help patients get to lifesaving dialysis treatment and to rebuild their homes.

2008— Council of Advanced Practitioners is established.

2009 — The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recognizes NKF KEEP as a “Promising Practice” to help combat diabetes in minority populations.

2009 — During the economic downturn, many patients and families are financially strained. NKF steps up to provide more than $4 million in assistance.

2009 — “Ask the Doctor” online forum with Dr. Leslie Spry is launched.

2010 — KEEP screenings reach 200,000 people.

2010 — NKF joins the National Salt Reduction Initiative, along with more than 45 organizations and nationally recognized brands, to combat dangerous levels of dietary sodium.

2011 — NKF launches the PEERs® patient mentoring program.

2013 — Your Kidneys and You® a new community-based educational initiative is launched; trained volunteers deliver presentations to members of the public throughout the country.

2013 — is the highest ranked website in searches for kidney disease, accessed by 4 million constituents annually.

2014  — NKF launches a groundbreaking interactive web portal and mobile app, My Food Coach, to help patients with all stages of CKD navigate the complexities of a healthy renal diet.

2014 — Having an impact: The number of people starting dialysis has decreased for the first time in 35 years and patients who are on dialysis are living longer.

2014— NKF launches a new online portal focused on kidney disease and Black/African American people - Social Determinants of Kidney Disease

2015 — NKF expands their peer mentoring program, NKF Peers, to include living kidney donors and those considering donation.

2015 — EverybodyPees ­– NKF’s fun, irreverent, animated music video promoting the importance of urine screening and the early detection of kidney disease surpasses 1,000,000 views on Facebook and YouTube.

2016 — NKF launches the CKDintercept® program to raise kidney health and prevention of kidney disease to national priorities and take steps to change the way the primary care system works regarding CKD. Component programs address every aspect of earlier intervention.

2016 —  Rollout of NKF’s Professional Education Resource Center (PERC), including 25 new courses for kidney healthcare teams to improve treatment.

2016 — NKF collaborates with the National Health Council to create guidelines for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on patient input into drug development. This eventually leads to a continuing series of Voice of the Patient: Externally Led Patient-Focused Drug Development Meetings (VOP EL-PFDD) where patients and caregivers give testimonials to the FDA and stakeholders about treatments for “rare” kidney diseases.

2016 — NKF CEO Kevin Longino and NKF Transplant Task Force and National Board Member Matthew Cooper, MD, participate in the White House Organ Summit in June 2016. The Summit is an essential step toward increasing access to organ transplantation and reducing the organ waiting list.

2017 — NKF launches THE BIG ASK, THE BIG GIVE®, a free, educational platform that teaches kidney patients in need of a transplant how to ask their friends and loved ones to consider living organ donation. The platform also offers education and support to living kidney donors. BABG national media outreach results in 100 million media impressions.

2017 — NKF convenes the CKDintercept® Summit: Building a Roadmap to Reduce Preventable Kidney Disease, chaired by the 18th U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, MD, MBA.

2017 — NKF holds the first-ever Consensus Conference to Decrease Kidney Discards to explore approaches to increasing utilization of the approximately 3,000 deceased donor kidneys discarded in the U.S. each year. The report from the conference issued the following year has 14 recommendations for reducing the number of kidneys retrieved from deceased donors that are ultimately never transplanted.

2017 — NKF launches the Heart Your Kidneys® multimedia awareness campaign, with the simple yet powerful message—we all need to make an explicit commitment to kidney health. 155.5 million media impressions result.

2017 — The NKF Patient-Centered Outcomes Research (PCOR®) Stakeholders Conference includes patients and care partners in a broad-based discussion to recommend improvements in home dialysis access and treatment.

2018 — NKF spearheads a joint scientific workshop with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) titled “Change in Albuminuria and GFR as End Points for Clinical Trials in Early Stages of Chronic Kidney Disease” to review the results of a major, multi-year meta-analysis to assess the strength and validity of changes in GFR slope and levels of albuminuria as surrogate end points in earlier CKD.

2018 — NKF, the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), and the nation’s leading laboratories and clinical laboratory societies announce a new collaboration to remove barriers to testing for CKD. The alliance, believed to be the first to combine the resources and talents of leading clinical laboratory societies, multiple laboratory providers, and a patient advocacy group, recommends the new “Kidney Profile” to simplify tests to detect kidney disease earlier.

2018 — THE BIG ASK, THE BIG GIVE® PSA series in Spanish receives more than 154 million media impressions in broadcast, print, and online platforms.

2019 — NKF, in conjunction with the “Million Hearts” initiative of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), releases a comprehensive report, Chronic Kidney Disease Change Package: Population Health Strategies for Cardiovascular and Kidney Disease Risk Reduction, for clinicians and public health practitioners.

2019 — Years of work by NKF’s dedicated team of advocates, volunteers, and staff championing the need for reforms to CMS payments pay off with a sweeping Presidential Executive Order that changes the way kidney patients are treated. NKF saw many of our fundamental policy goals realized in The White House’s Advancing American Kidney Health (AAKH) initiative’s plan to: help increase living and deceased organ donation; increase earlier detection and care of CKD; and increase incentives to develop new, cutting-edge treatments, including advancing home dialysis. Prior to the release of the Executive Order in July, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar previewed the administration’s commitment to improving kidney patient care in remarks at NKF’s Annual Kidney Patient Summit held in Washington, D.C. in March 2019.

2019 — NKF launches Kidney Pathways, an interactive educational platform that uses an online kidney health assessment tool to provide a curated, learning pathway for people at any stage of chronic kidney disease (CKD).

2020 – NKF National Board Member Matthew Cooper, MD, testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Health on legislation to provide lifetime Medicare coverage of immunosuppressive drugs for kidney transplant recipients. This has been a long-standing priority of NKF and helped lead to the passage of legislation in December 2020. As of January 2023, Medicare kidney transplant recipients whose 36-month post-transplant eligibility has expired will be eligible for continued coverage of their immunosuppressive drugs, helping many people consider transplantation who otherwise may not have been able to do so.

2020 — NKF launches bilingual COVID-19 content to better serve the Spanish-speaking kidney community, who were particularly affected by the crisis. NKF also asks that the government ensure priority testing, contact tracing, vaccination, and funding to high-risk communities, low-income neighborhoods, and communities of color. NKF also advocates for long-term investments in public health infrastructure in traditionally under-served communities and more funding for kidney research and targeted awareness.

2020 — During the COVID-19 crisis, NKF asks for and receives a public clarification by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that kidney health surgeries, such as transplants and vascular access, are still “essential surgeries” that should not be delayed.

2020 — NKF launches the “Are You the 33%?®” multimedia awareness campaign which focuses on the 33 percent of adults in the U.S. at risk for developing kidney disease. The campaign is paused due to the pandemic and is later relaunched with great success to coincide with Hispanic Heritage Month. 135,000 people take the campaign’s quiz.

2020  — NKF and CVS Kidney Care®, a CVS Health company, join forces on a national campaign to raise awareness about kidney disease during March, National Kidney Month.

2020 — NKF and the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) form a joint task force to review the use of race in eGFR calculations, incorporating input from the medical community and patients to identify an approach that balances social justice with scientific rigor. The leaders state that current race-based equations should be replaced by a substitute that is accurate, representative, unbiased, and provides a standardized approach to diagnosing kidney diseases.

2020 — NKF joins the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) to launch a new Kidney Health Evaluation for Patients with Diabetes measure. The new HEDIS measure will dramatically increase testing in adults with diabetes to improve kidney disease detection and awareness.

2021 — As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, NKF also continues to be there for patients and families through advocacy, remote education, and support. NKF’s microsite for patients, “What You Should Know,” a resource for the latest information on COVID-19/kidney disease receives more than a million pageviews and 19.4 million impressions. NKF begins a series of free, all-access Facebook Live and Zoom episodes for patients and short videos for patients and issues a series of press releases about the urgent needs of kidney patients. The outreach results in more than 472 million traditional media impressions and 5.4 million social media impressions.

2021 — NKF launches the national NKF Patient Network, the only kidney disease registry that has both patient-entered data combined with electronic health records. This powerful research tool will improve the lives of people with kidney disease by better informing research, clinical care, drug development, and health policy decisions, as well as give kidney patients tools to stay educated and healthy.

2021 — NKF’s joint Task Force with the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) to examine the role of race in diagnosing and treating kidney disease announces a new race-free calculation for estimating eGFR. The United States Pathology and Laboratory Society Leadership endorses its use as standard procedure throughout the country.

2021 — NKF launches a new initiative, Transplants for All, whose goal is that any patient who wants a transplant can get one. Its three goals for the next five years: increase living-donor transplantation; increase deceased-donor transplantation; increase eligibility and access to transplantation.

2021 — NKF forms its first-ever Health Equity Advisory Committee, responsible for directing and championing NKF’s health equity, community health, and social justice efforts through research, education, and key partnerships.

2021 — NKF’s patient and staff advocacy efforts result in five states, Kentucky, Missouri, New Jersey, Utah, and Washington, passing state legislation that protects living donors against insurance discrimination. NKF advocates and staff also successfully advocated for paid leave for organ donation for state employees in Kentucky and city employees in Louisville, KY, and created a kidney disease task force in Illinois.

2021 — NKF announces its Voices for Kidney Health™ program, a diverse nationwide community of dedicated kidney patients and health professional advocates working with elected officials and other public leaders to create polices that help those living with kidney disease.

2022 — NKF-KDOQI celebrates 20 years of chronic kidney disease evidence-based clinical practice guidelines: in 2002, the Kidney Disease Outcomes Quality Initiative (KDOQI) defined CKD and created a new classification system and an approach to care used today throughout the world, and in doing so, helped revolutionize the care of patients with kidney disease and improve millions of lives.

2022 -- With the support of local NKF advocates and NKF field staff, eight states passed local versions of the Living Donor Protection Act (LDPA), for a total of 28 states since 2018. This critical legislation will prevent insurers from denying coverage, limiting benefits, or charging higher premiums for life, disability, or long-term care insurance based on an individual’s status as a living organ donor. Additionally, the bills in some of these states prevent an employee from losing their job as a result of being a living donor.

2022 — continues to be highest ranked website for kidney disease, now accessed by 34M constituents annually, and appearing in over 1 billion searches annually.

2022 — NKF is urging Congress to act on the Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2022 because we recognize that communities of color, particularly Hispanic or Latino and African American or Black people continue to face longstanding racial and ethnic disparities in health and healthcare today. NKF worked closely with bill sponsors and other stakeholders to draft and revise portions of the bill related to kidney disease.

2022 — Congress passes the FY 2023 Appropriations Bill which includes $4.5 million for CDC's CKD program, representing the second $1 million increase for the program since FY 2021.