NKF Presents Highest Awards in Kidney Health at Important Gathering of Professionals

Experts come from around the country to Boston for the NKF 2019 Spring Clinical Meetings
New York, NY – May 8, 2019 - Each year the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) considers the work of hundreds of specialists in the field of Nephrology and selects among them those who most exemplify the relentless efforts of the NKF to enhance the lives of patients through action, education and accelerating change.
The prestigious awards are presented to the recipients during the annual gathering of clinicians who work daily in the trenches mobilizing the fight for public health through education, research, and innovation for all kidney patients. This year, the NKF 2019 Spring Clinical Meetings are being held in Boston, May 8-12.
The Celeste Castillo Lee Patient Engagement Award, which was established in honor of Lee, a longtime chair of NKF’s Patient and Family Council and leading advocate for patient-centered care and empowerment, will be presented to Mary Baliker. 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.
Baliker is a Wisconsin kidney patient and transplant recipient. She was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease at age 9 and has experienced dialysis and four kidney transplants, including receiving a kidney from her brother at age 17.
Professionally, she has been working in the healthcare field for 30 years, including working as an organ procurement coordinator and clinical research transplant coordinator. Today, Mary works as a healthcare consultant at Baliker Healthcare in Middleton, WI. She is also an inspirational speaker who focuses on educating and informing attendees with stories of her personal journey.
NKF will award the 2019 Public Service Award to Nilka Ríos Burrows, MPH. The 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.
Burrows will be honored for her work at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Burrows is an epidemiologist in the Division of Diabetes Translation at the CDC. She joined the agency in 1992 and the Division of Diabetes in 1997. Since 2016, she has led CDC’s Chronic Kidney Disease Initiative, collaborating with partners on surveillance, epidemiology and cost-effectiveness studies to develop public health strategies to promote kidney health.  Rios Burrows also manages the CKD Surveillance System and coordinates development of educational materials to increase awareness about the burden of kidney disease and prevention efforts in the U.S.
NKF will also present its first ever award for Excellence in Kidney Transplantation to Matthew Cooper, MD.
This award has been 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 award embodies the dedication of NKF to help people navigate the challenges of kidney disease, organ donation and transplantation. The NKF Excellence in Kidney Transplantation Award has been endowed through a grant from Veloxis Pharmaceuticals.
Dr. Cooper is a Professor of Surgery at Georgetown University School of Medicine and the Director of Kidney and Pancreas Transplantation at the Medstar Georgetown Transplant Institute. He is a pioneer in the laparoscopic donor nephrectomy procedure and in the field of Paired Kidney Exchange (PKE). He conducts critical work to remove barriers for living organ donors. He is co-chair of the National Kidney Foundation’s Transplantation Task Force to reduce the rate of discarded, deceased-donor kidneys. Dr. Cooper is involved in several ongoing clinical research projects primarily with an interest in immunosuppression minimization and amelioration of delayed graft function in kidney allografts following ischemic reperfusion injury.
This year, The Council of Nephrology Nurses and Technicians has created a new honor 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.
Anne Diroll, RN, CNN, of California, will receive the award for her decades-long commitment to improving the lives of dialysis patients. This honor recognizes excellence in clinical care and finding novel ways to improve the lives of patients.
Anne currently works at Fresenius Kidney Care in Rocklin, CA, as a clinical manager and is a certified nephrology nurse; an anemia manager for 300 patients in four-outpatient clinics, and a research expert and consultant for Human Factors. Previously, she worked in anemia management. She is also a national speaker and author in the field of fluid management.
Gregory Germino, MD, of the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, has been selected as the winner of the Dr. Shaul Massry Distinguished Lecture award, which was created in honor of Dr. Massry for his scientific achievements and contributions to the kidney health care community and to the National Kidney Foundation.
Dr. Germino is the Deputy Director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) at the National Institutes of Health, an Adjunct Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and a Section Chief of the Polycystic Kidney Disease Laboratory in NIDDK’s Division of Intramural Research since 2009.
He has served on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Polycystic Kidney Research Foundation, as Chair of the Scientific Review Board of the Telethon Foundation of Italy, a Councilor of the American Society of Clinical Investigation, and a member of the Board of Directors of Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. He has received multiple awards including an NIH MERIT Award, induction into the Association of American Physicians, and the Lillian Jean Kaplan International Prize for the Advancement in the Understanding of Polycystic Kidney Disease.
Charmaine Lok, MD, of Toronto General Hospital, Toronto, will receive the Garabed Eknoyan Award, which was established to recognize people who exemplify NKF’s mission to improve patients’ quality of life with their extraordinary contributions to key NKF initiatives.
In addition to her faculty positions at the University of Toronto, Dr. Lok is associated with the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University. Dr. Lok is the medical director of both the chronic kidney diseases and hemodialysis programs at the University Health Network - Toronto General Hospital. She is active in raising awareness of CKD and end-stage renal disease (ESRD) and its importance in the health of the population. Dr. Lok is the current chair of the NKF-KDOQI Clinical Practice Guideline for Vascular Access Update and has served as program chair of the NKF 2013 Spring Clinical Meetings.
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 be presented to Ahmed Malik, MD, the Chair of Medicine of Aurora St Luke’s Medical Center in Wisconsin.
Dr. Malik is a nephrologist and has been working in the Milwaukee area since 2005. In addition to his clinical work, he is also involved in research and teaching and has been awarded Best Teacher by Aurora Internal Medicine Residency program several times.
Dr. Malik has been involved in charitable work for several years and raised more than $100,000 for Indigent Patient Endowment Fund for the King Edward Medical College Alumni Association in 2015 when he served as president. He has been involved with NKF Wisconsin Kidney Early Evaluation Program (KEEP) for the last 13 years and now serves on the NKF Wisconsin Board of Directors.
Beth Piraino, MD, of the University of Pittsburgh, has been selected to receive the J. Michael Lazarus Award. This award 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.
She is a tenured Professor of Medicine and Associate Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Her focus has been on improving the lives of those with kidney disease through patient care, teaching, and research.
Dr. Piraino co-chaired the KDOQI Peritoneal Dialysis Adequacy Guideline work group,  has served as  a local NKF board member for many years, , chaired  the NKF Spring Clinical Meetings Program Committee,  and is a prior President of the NKF.
Neil Powe, MD, MPH, MBA of the University of California – San Francisco, has been selected as the recipient of the National Kidney Foundation’s highest honor – the David M. Hume Memorial Award. The prestigious award was created in the memory of one of the Foundation’s most distinguished members and is reserved for a scientist-clinician who exemplifies the highest ideals of scholarship and humanism in the field of kidney and urologic diseases.
Dr. Powe is the Chief of Medicine at the Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and the Constance B. Wofsy Distinguished Professor and Vice-Chair of Medicine at the University of California – San Francisco, where he serves as administrative leader of the Department of Medicine.
Dr. Powe’s work unites medicine and public health. His landmark investigations of outcomes in chronic kidney disease, particularly on health disparities, have influenced clinical practice and policy.  He led the Choices for Healthy Outcomes in Caring for ESRD (CHOICE) study, one of the first national cohort studies of patient outcomes dialysis. He is a principal investigator of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention National [chronic kidney disease] CKD Surveillance System.
Dietitian Katy Wilkens, MS, RD, the manager of the Nutrition and Fitness Service of Northwest Kidney Centers in Seattle, will receive the Joel D. Kopple Award, made to an individual who has contributed significantly to the field of renal nutrition.
Wilkens is a renal dietitian and teacher. She’s been teaching for 40 years at Northwest Kidney Centers in Seattle, where she supervises a staff of 25 renal dietitians – and regular rotations of student dietitians, physicians, renal fellows, nurses and social workers. Her personal caseload includes hemodialysis patients who are learning to meet the challenges of home hemodialysis.
Wilkens founded the Washington State Council on Renal Nutrition and the Northwest Renal Dietitians Conference; helping renal dietitians across the five state Northwest region connect and network. She is heavily involved in community outreach, helping plan Northwest Kidney Centers’ Kidney Health Fest for African American Families for 10 years, speaking at numerous community health events and nutrition and renal conferences, and discussing healthy nutrition regularly on radio and TV.
Jerry Yee, MD, of the Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, has been named the recipient of the Donald W. Seldin Distinguished Award. 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. Yee is the Division Head of Nephrology and Hypertension of the Henry Ford Hospital and Chief Medical Officer of the Greenfield Health Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary and dialysis provider of the health care system. Dr. Yee has been winning awards throughout his nearly 40-year-career including, most recently, he was the recipient of the Kidney Crusader Award by the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan for giving his time, money and expertise in the efforts of the foundation’s efforts to be a lifeline for all people affected by kidney disease.  
His contributions to NKF’s professional education mission include chairing the Spring Clinical Meetings Program Committee and serving as Editor-in-Chief of Advances in Chronic Kidney Disease for an unprecedented 10-year term.  He has lectured nationally and internationally in the fields of chronic kidney disease, acid-base/electrolyte disturbances, and diabetic kidney disease.
Otsuka America Pharmaceutical Inc. has been selected to receive the 2019 Corporate Innovator Award, which was established to recognize industry partners that advance the field of nephrology through unmet medical need or improving upon an existing practice, therapeutic or technology.
In April 2018, Otsuka America Pharmaceutical Inc.’s JYNARQUETM (tolvaptan) was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as the first treatment to slow kidney function decline in adults at risk of rapidly progressing Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease (ADPKD).
ADPKD is diagnosed in about 140,000 people in the U.S., and impacts families across multiple generations, since a parent with ADPKD has a 50 percent chance of passing the disease to their children. ADPKD is a genetic disease with consequences that can lead to dialysis or kidney transplantation. It is a progressively debilitating and often painful disorder in which fluid-filled cysts develop in the kidneys over time. These cysts enlarge the kidneys and impair their ability to function normally, leading to kidney failure in most patients.
NKF Spring Clinical Meetings
For the past 27 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 May 8-12 in Boston, MA.
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 30 million adults are estimated to have chronic kidney disease—and most aren’t 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 www.kidney.org.