NKF Announces Young Investigator Research Grant Award Recipients


~ Foundation Awards Five Promising Young Scientists for their Research of Kidney Disease ~


(October 2, 2023, New York, NY) —The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) is delighted to announce the five recipients of the 2023 NKF Young Investigator Research Grant Program. This research grant program provides funding support to young researchers who are working to advance kidney disease research and improve patient care. The recipients of this year’s awards have demonstrated innovation, commitment, and promise in their respective fields of study.

The grants are awarded in specified categories for one-year terms. The awards given are based upon a careful, peer-reviewed analysis by an independent committee with an emphasis on the support of high-quality, clinical investigation. This year’s award recipients are as follows:

  • Nephrologist Korey Bartolomeo, DO, has been awarded the Satellite Dialysis Young Investigator Grant to further investigate the mechanisms underlying APOL1-associated kidney diseases related to the inheritance of two copies of high-risk APOL1 kidney disease risk variants, which disproportionately affect patients primarily of West African descent. “I aspire to uncover the intricate interplay between APOL1 high-risk and low-risk genotypes in shaping the destiny of kidney podocytes, thus paving the way for more effective therapies in APOL1-related kidney diseases,” said Korey Bartolomeo, DO. This research holds the potential to guide the development of therapies for APOL1-associated kidney disease. Dr. Bartolomeo is a nephrologist in Cleveland, Ohio, and is affiliated with the Cleveland Clinic. 
  • Researcher Dipal Patel, MD., PhD., is the recipient of the NKF Young Investigator Research Grant for her groundbreaking research that leverages electronic health records to implement and incorporate patient-reported symptoms into clinical care. This project truly enhances person-centered chronic kidney disease management. Dr. Patel is an Assistant Professor of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, and is affiliated with Johns Hopkins University. "As Dr. Patel embarks on this project, the mission is clear: to shed light on the uncharted territory of kidney disease care. In the pursuit of understanding the intricate dance of symptoms and quality of life, we aim to illuminate a path where the 'CKD Symptom Survey' becomes a guiding star in the nephrology galaxy. With each step, we uncover the secrets of acceptance, the hurdles of implementation, and the power of ePROMs to shield against the storms of hospitalization and disease progression."
  • Pediatric Nephrologist Leonela Villegas, MD., has received the NKF Young Investigator Research Grant to spearhead research focusing on the experience and impact of readmissions on the caregivers of children with chronic kidney disease. This research aims to elicit factors contributing to readmissions and improve clinical care for this vulnerable population. Dr. Villegas is an Assistant Professor at the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford. "Within pediatric nephrology, we recognize the challenges of our patients with chronic kidney disease, as well as their loved ones, and hope to identify opportunistic areas to improve social and clinical care. In our journey to obtain a comprehensive understanding, this study will help guide us through caregiver experiences and hospital readmissions. Through surveys and interviews, we aim to unveil themes for English and Spanish-speaking families. With these findings, we plan to perform a pilot study to improve the transition-to-home." - Leonela Villegas, MD MSCE.
  • Researcher Anvesha Srivastava, MD., winner of the Joseph M. Krainin MD. Memorial Young Investigator Award for a pilot study that focuses on the interplay between genetic variations and microRNA expression in chronic kidney disease progression. "As we venture into the intricate landscape of kidney function, we find that traditional genetics only paints a partial picture. The elusive answers lie hidden within the non-coding realms of our genes. MicroRNAs, the silent conductors of gene expression, hold the key to unlocking this mystery,” said Dr. Anvesha Srivastava. “Our research seamlessly fuses genome-wide association studies and microRNA sequencing, weaving together a tapestry of knowledge.” This research aims to identify genetic markers that influence progression that reshapes the future of kidney disease treatment.” Dr. Srivastava is a postdoctoral fellow with expertise in molecular biology, at the Department of Medicine, Division of Kidney Diseases and Hypertension, George Washington University. 
  • Pediatric Nephrologist Stella Kilduff, MD., was awarded the NKF Young Investigator Grant for research that will investigate the impact of metabolic acidosis on kidney transplant recipients, with the goal of uncovering mechanisms and potential therapeutic targets to improve patient outcomes. “In our relentless pursuit to enhance the outcomes of pediatric kidney transplant recipients, we embark on a profound journey into the realm of metabolic acidosis exerts and its influence on the loss of kidney function,” said Dr. Stella Kilduff.  This research not only bridges critical gaps of the disrupted pathways linked to acidosis but also provides a potent tool for identifying drug-targetable avenues that can complement alkali therapy, paving the way for a new era of enhanced patient care.” Dr. Kilduff is affiliated with The Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago.


“These exceptional young investigators have demonstrated remarkable dedication to advancing kidney disease research,” said NKF President and Nephrologist Sylvia Rosas, MD, MSCE, and clinical researcher at the Joslin Diabetes Center and Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA. “Their works hold great promise for improving our understanding of kidney disease and enhancing patient care. At NKF we understand that kidney disease affects individuals throughout their lifespan and are pleased that reviewers recommended for funding several awards focused on children with kidney diseases. In addition, we look forward to learning more about the impact of genes in kidney disease progression as well as the use of artificial intelligence to address patient symptoms.”

The NKF Young Investigator Awards showcases NKF’s commitment to supporting and recognizing emerging talent in the field of kidney disease research. NKF applauds these researchers for their impactful contributions and looks forward to the positive changes their work will bring to kidney disease management and treatment.

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.