NKF Honors Doctors, Scientists, Volunteer, Public Servant with Awards at Annual Spring Clinical Meetings

April 9, 2021, New York, NY —Each year the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) considers the work of hundreds of specialists, advocates and volunteers in the field of nephrology and selects among them those who most exemplify the relentless efforts of NKF to enhance the lives of patients through action, education, and accelerating change. Their work is vital to the 37 million adults in the U.S. who are affected by kidney disease and the 1 in 3 people who are at risk. NKF will honor these men and women at the 2021 Spring Clinical Meetings, which is being held virtually from April 6-10. 

The Donald W. Seldin Award will go to Mark Perazella, MD, from Yale University School of Medicine and West Haven VA Medical Center.

“It is a very special honor to receive the 2021 Donald W. Seldin Award,” Dr. Perazella said. “Dr. Seldin was an extraordinary role model whose innovations and contributions transformed care for patients with advanced kidney disease. He was in inspiration to me and others of my generation. I feel very privileged and fortunate to receive the NKF award that bears his name.”

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. Perazella is a Board-certified nephrologist and Professor of Medicine in the Section of Nephrology at Yale University School of Medicine and West Haven VA Medical Center in West Haven, CT. His academic career has centered on his role as a clinician and educator. He completed a 12-year term as Yale Nephrology Fellowship Training Program Director. He is currently Director of the Acute Dialysis Program at Yale-New Haven Hospital, and Medical Director for the Yale Physician Associate and PA On-line Programs.

The NKF Public Service Award will be presented to Dr. Aliza Thompson, Deputy Director of the Division of Cardiology and Nephrology, at the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The Division of Cardiology and Nephrology regulates and reviews Investigational New Drug applications and marketing applications for drug and biologic products for the treatment of cardiovascular and kidney diseases. Dr. Thompson joined the FDA in 2007. 

“It’s a tremendous honor to receive this award,” Dr. Thompson said. “I thank the NKF for this honor and the important work it is doing to facilitate drug development for kidney diseases and ensure that the patient voice remains at the center of the drug development process.”

This year’s recipient of the Shaul G. Massry Distinguished Lecture in honor of Dr. Massry for his scientific achievements and contributions to kidney health care and NKF is James Lash, MD, Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Nephrology at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) College of Medicine. 

His research focuses on the epidemiology of chronic kidney disease and interventional trials in the treatment of kidney disease, particularly in racial and ethnic minority populations in the United States. 

“Dr. Shaul Massry has been one of the most prominent leaders in the field of nephrology and I am greatly honored to receive this award,” Dr. Lash said. “Recognition from NKF is particularly meaningful to me given the organization's patient-centered vision.”

Paul K. Whelton, MB, MD, MSc, of Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, will receive NKF’s 2021 David M. Hume Memorial Award. The award was created in memory of one of the NKF’s most distinguished members. The Hume award is the highest honor given by the Foundation to a distinguished scientist-clinician in the field of kidney and urologic diseases. It is bestowed upon an individual who exemplifies the high ideals of scholarship and humanitarianism in an outstanding manner. 

“It is a very special honor to receive this award,” Dr. Whelton said. “Dr. Hume was an extraordinary role model whose innovations and contributions transformed care for patients with advanced kidney disease. He was an inspiration to me and others of my generation. I feel very privileged and fortunate to receive the NKF award that bears his name.”

Dr. Whelton, is a medical graduate of University College Cork, Ireland, with a master’s degree in clinical epidemiology from University of London and a prevention research doctorate from the National University of Ireland. He spent 26 years at Johns Hopkins, where he founded the Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology, and Clinical Research. Subsequently, he was Tulane University Dean, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine; Dean, School of Medicine; and Senior Vice President for Health Sciences. Later, he was President/CEO, Loyola University Health System and Medical Center before returning to Tulane as Show Chwan Health System Endowed Chair in Global Public Health.

NKF Senior Vice President of Scientific Operations Jessica Joseph, MBA, who has led the team that organizes the annual Spring Clinical Meetings for more than a decade, as well as many of the ground-breaking initiatives of NKF, is the winner of the Garabed Eknoyan Award.

The Garabed Eknoyan Award was created to recognize an individual who has promoted the mission of NKF in making lives better for people with kidney disease through exceptional contributions to key initiatives of NKF such as the Kidney Disease Outcomes Quality Initiative (KDOQI) or clinical research in the field of kidney disease.

“I am honored and surprised to be recognized by such world-renowned clinicians and researchers,” Joseph said. “Supporting the kidney healthcare community as part of this incredible NKF team has been the highlight of my career and I would like to dedicate this award to my staff for leaning into this work. Time and time again, they have pulled off what seems to be impossible, like pivoting so quickly and seamlessly many of our professional education activities to virtual events over the last year. I am incredibly fortunate to work among such devoted colleagues and volunteers throughout my tenure at NKF.”

Kirsten L. Johansen, MD, FASN, Nephrology Division Director, Hennepin County Medical Center, Co-Director, Chronic Disease Research Group, Professor of Medicine, University of Minnesota, will receive the Dr. J. Michael Lazarus Award for major contributions to the clinical science and care of dialysis patients. The award recognizes individuals whose research has yielded novel insights related to renal replacement therapy.

Dr. Johansen is honored for her focus on physical function among patients with end-stage kidney disease and interventions to improve it, and epidemiology of kidney disease with an emphasis on racial and ethnic disparities in progression of chronic kidney disease and access to kidney transplantation.

“I am extremely honored to have even been considered for this award, no less to receive it,” Dr. Johansen said. “I am as ever before committed to making a difference to patients with kidney disease and honestly, to make sure that someday I am deserving of this recognition.”

Shivam Joshi, MD, a nephrologist, internist, and plant-based physician, who practices at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue in New York City. He will receive the Joel D. Kopple Award for work in the field of renal nutrition.

“I’m very honored to have won this award and it is an enormous surprise,” Dr. Joshi said. “In the field of renal nutrition, this is the highest award to win and I’m very thankful to have earned the respect of so many in my field. I am still in shock to also be the youngest nephrologist to have won this award.”

Although Dr. Joshi graduated from fellowship less than three years ago, he has published more than a dozen articles on diet and kidney disease in prominent journals, been a featured speaker dozens of times around the world, been featured in the New York Times and multiple podcasts about his work and published on more than 40 peer-reviewed platforms.

Krista L. Lentine, MD, PhD, will receive the 2021 Excellence in Kidney Transplantation Award. Dr. Lentine is professor of medicine with tenure, Medical Director of Living Donation, and Mid‐America Transplant/Jane A. Beckman Endowed Chair in Transplantation at SSM Saint Louis University Hospital. 

“It is difficult to fully express my gratitude for this award embodying the NKF’s commitment to helping people navigate the challenges of kidney disease, organ donation and transplantation,” Dr. Lentine said. “I’m deeply honored to join esteemed past awarded colleagues and future recipients as we work together with the NKF and other organizations to make the gift of life possible for more patients in need. This shared mission honors the altruism of organ donors, and the courage, hope and appreciation of those who seek and receive transplants.”

The Excellence in Transplantation Award was established to recognize a scientist or clinician scientist whose exceptional research has contributed novel insights in or resulted in improved access to kidney transplantation.

The Medical Advisory Board Distinguished Service Award recipient Shubha Ahya, MD, a Professor of Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School Medicine and a clinical nephrologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Jesse Brown VA Medical Center.

“It's an honor to receive this award,” Dr. Ahya said. “I have worked with NKF of Illinois for over 15 years and love the comradery of staff and volunteers to care for our kidney patient-caregiver-provider community.”

Dr. Ahya is the Chairperson of the Professional Advisory Board of the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois and helps plan the professional programming including Citywide Grand Rounds and the annual Controversies in Nephrology.

This year, NKF will honor living-donor recipient and advocate Curtis H. Warfield with the Celeste Castillo Lee Patient Engagement Award, which was established to honor the longtime advocate for patient-centered care and empowerment. Warfield is a regional leader of NKF’s Kidney Advocacy Committee, a peer mentor with NKF’s Peer Program, and a member of the Board of Directors of NKF of Indiana.

“I am very surprised and humbled to have been selected as the 2021 Celeste Castillo Lee Patient Engagement Award recipient,” Warfield said. “I have never considered my activities as an advocate as work or an obligation but a chance to fulfill part of my purpose in life to give forward and support others as they live with kidney disease. It is an honor to be selected by NKF and to represent the legacy of Celeste Castillo Lee in the kidney community.”

Maria “Rosley” DeClaro, RN, BSN, CNN will receive the Council of Nephrology Nurses and Technicians award in the name of Carol Mattix, a home dialysis training nurse of the last century who worked tirelessly to improve the lives of kidney patients.

“I love my job and didn’t expect to be rewarded in this way for the work that I do,” Ms. DeClaro said. “But it makes me very happy. When I see my patients, they are learning about kidney failure, a diagnosis that is life-long, so they need hope. I try to give them that.”

Ms. DeClaro has been a Registered Nurse at Fresenius Kidney Care for more than 20 years. During her time at Fresenius, she has served in many roles, including direct patient care and managerial roles. In 2009, she truly found her professional calling as she entered the world of Home Therapies. As a Home Therapy Nurse, DeClaro has worked tirelessly to support her patients, and to give them the freedom and quality of life they never imagined on dialysis.

NKF Spring Clinical Meetings 

For the past 29 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 held virtually April 6-10.  

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 (CKD)—and approximately 90 percent don’t know they have it.  1 in 3 adults in the U.S. is at risk for chronic kidney disease.  Risk factors for kidney disease include: diabeteshigh blood pressureheart diseaseobesity, and family history. People who are Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian American, or Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander are at increased risk for developing the disease. Black or African American people are almost 4 times more likely than Whites to have kidney failure. Hispanic or Latino people are 1.3 times more likely than non-Hispanic or non-Latino people to have kidney failure.

About the National Kidney Foundation

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 www.kidney.org