NKF Proudly Announces the 2023 Health Equity Community Engagement Award Winners

Health Equity

~ Foundation Awards Celebrate Exceptional Contributions to Kidney Health ~


(October 2, 2023, New York, NY) —The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) is proud to announce the recipients of the 2023 NKF Health Equity Community Engagement Award. Research funding is provided to those who share in the commitment to actively work to make a difference in kidney health disparities. This year’s recipients, Dr. Amber Paulus and Dr. Janet Diaz Martinez, have demonstrated dedication to addressing kidney health disparities and promoting equitable care for all.

            The grants are awarded in specified categories for one-year terms. The awards given are based upon careful, peer-reviewed independent committees with an emphasis on the support of high-quality, clinical investigation. The goal of these projects is to prevent, reduce, and eliminate kidney health disparities and advance health equity in local communities or populations at risk for and overburdened with kidney disease. 

The following two recipients will receive $75,000 for one year of research and are as follows:


Designing Equitable Care for Kidneys (DECK): Community-based Screening for Social Determinants of Health and Kidney Disease Risk Factors

Amber Paulus, PhD., RN, CPHQ, from Virginia Commonwealth University

Dr. Amber Paulus’ project titled, "Designing Equitable Care for Kidneys (DECK): Community-Based Screening for Social Determinants of Health and Kidney Disease Risk Factors," focuses on bridging the gap in kidney disease care by identifying social determinants of health that impact kidney disease risk factors. "In the DECK project, our mission is clear: to understand the intricacies of engaging our community members effectively in kidney health screenings, all while navigating the complexities of organizing and executing community-based screenings,” said Amber B. Paulus, PhD, RN, CPHQ, CPPS.  “Moreover, we're delving into the world of electronic platforms to address unmet social needs within our community. This initiative is about weaving a resilient, interconnected healthcare network that brings kidney health resources and social support within reach for those who need it most.” Her community-based screening approach emphasizes early intervention and personalized care for underserved populations.

This grant award is supported by Chinook Therapeutics.

Caridad AwaReness and Education (CARE): a community engagement initiative to address gaps in education among Latine adults with or at risk for kidney disease 
Janet Diaz Martinez, PhD., RD, LDN, Caridad Clinic and Florida International University

Dr. Janet Diaz Martinez, PhD, RD, LDN, associated with Caridad Clinic and Florida International University, has been granted a second-year award for her project, "Caridad AwaReness and Education (CARE)." "In the spirit of Caridad, our commitment to chronic kidney disease (CKD) Awareness and Education in year one (Care 1.0), we embrace collaboration with Community Health Workers (CHWs) and Latin (Latino/a) patients to co-create Patient Educational Materials (CKD-PEM). These diverse CKD-PEM prototypes, nurtured by the community, are sowing seeds of increased awareness and screening for CKD,” said Janet Diaz Martinez, PhD, RD, LDN.  “Our collaborative work paves the way for culturally and linguistically tailored kidney disease education materials, nurturing awareness, self-management, and screening within the Latine community." This initiative continues to address education gaps among Latin (Latino/a) adults who are disproportionately affected by kidney disease.

Both projects exemplify the spirit of community engagement and proactive approaches to kidney health disparities, aligning with NKF’s mission to eliminate preventable kidney disease and promote equitable care. These awards highlight the value of research-driven solutions and grassroots efforts in improving kidney health on a local and global scale.

"The NKF Health Equity Community Engagement Award celebrates the dedication and innovative thinking of individuals and teams committed to creating a healthier future for those affected by kidney disease," said NKF President and Nephrologist Sylvia Rosas, MD, MSCE, and clinical researcher at the Joslin Diabetes Center and Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA. "We are proud to honor Dr. Amber Paulus and Dr. Janet Diaz Martinez for their outstanding contributions, and we look forward to the positive impact their work will continue to have on kidney health equity."

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. 


About Kidney Disease

In the United States, 37 million adults are estimated to have chronic kidney disease—and approximately 90 percent don’t know they have it.  About 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 Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian American, Native American, or other Pacific Islander descent are at increased risk for developing the disease. Blacks or African Americans are almost four times more likely than White Americans to have kidney failure. Hispanics experience kidney failure at about double the rate of White people.

About 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.