2012 Award Recipients

Robert G. Narins Award

Donald E. Kohan, MD, PhD, FASN

The American Society of Nephrology presented its Robert G. Narins Award to Donald E. Kohan, MD, PhD, FASN, at Kidney Week 2012. Dr. Kohan is professor of medicine at the University of Utah Health Sciences Center in Salt Lake City.

He has served the University of Utah as chief of nephrology, nephrology fellowship training program director, and dean of graduate medical education. He has also been the chief of medicine at the Salt Lake City VA Medical Center.

The Narins Award honors those who have made substantial contributions to education and teaching, and that has been the focus of Dr. Kohan's activities with ASN. He was the first ASN director of education for nephrology fellowship training. He has chaired the executive committee of the ASN training program directors (TPDs) since 2006. He helped establish the subspecialty and ASN in-training examinations. He contributed to developing new Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education guidelines for nephrology, initiating development of nephrology fellowship curricula including geriatric nephrology, creating travel awards and programs for medical students at Kidney Week, developing learning experiences for residents at Kidney Week, creating Kidney Week pathways for educators including education-based abstracts and symposia, promoting awareness of nephrology workforce shortages, creating ASN nephrology TPD retreats, creating a course for new TPDs, redefining the structure of the TPD executive committee, and developing ASN websites that contain extensive information for TPDs and nephrology fellows.

Dr. Kohan obtained a PhD in renal physiology in 1980 and an MD in 1982. For the past 25 years, his laboratory has examined the role of distal nephron autocoids, including endothelin, nitric oxide, prostaglandins, and other factors, in the control of urinary salt and water excretion and arterial pressure in health and in hypertension. His team pioneered renal cell-specific gene targeting.

Dr. Kohan has served on National Institutes of Health, Veterans Administration, and American Heart Association study sections, including chairing the VA Nephrology Merit Review Committee. The importance of Dr. Kohan's research has been recognized by virtue of his election to the American Society of Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians.

John P. Peters Award

Thomas D. DuBose, Jr., MD, FASN

The American Society of Nephrology presented its John P. Peters Award to Thomas D. DuBose Jr., MD, FASN, MACP, at Kidney Week 2012.

Thomas D. DuBose Jr., MD, FASN, MACP, is the Tinsley R. Harrison Chair of Internal Medicine and professor of physiology and pharmacology at Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C. The Peters Award is given for outstanding contributions to improving the lives of patients and to furthering the understanding of the kidney in health and disease, and Dr. Dubose's achievements span the field from research to service.

Dr. DuBose has served as division chief of nephrology at two institutions, the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, and the University of Texas Medical School, Houston. Prior to being recruited to Wake Forest, he was the Peter T. Bohan Professor and chair of the department of medicine at the University of Kansas School of Medicine.

Throughout his research career, Dr. DuBose has focused on elucidating factors governing the regulation of tubule transporters involved in urinary acidification and potassium homeostasis. These transporters have been implicated in monogenic diseases associated with renal tubular acidosis, the chronic metabolic acidosis of chronic progressive kidney disease, and abnormalities in potassium balance and blood pressure regulation.

His studies with Dr. David Good at the University of Texas uncovered the interdependence of potassium homeostasis and ammonium excretion. Their studies in animal models provided a better understanding of the role of hyperkalemia in the development of metabolic acidosis and of hypokalemia in the perpetuation of metabolic alkalosis, underscoring the importance of the correction of these conditions for treatment.

His studies using microelectrode methodology validated the reliability of the urine minus blood CO2 tension as an index of distal tubule H+-secretion in the rat collecting duct, and extended these observations to experimental models of distal renal tubular acidosis.

He and his colleagues were among the first to show that while both gastric and colonic a-subunits of H+,K+-ATPase play a role in urinary acidification in the kidney, the colonic a H+,K+-ATPase is site-specifically upregulated in the collecting duct by potassium deprivation in an animal model of chronic hypokalemia. These studies showed the importance of this proton transporter in the metabolic alkalosis associated with hypokalemia.

Dr. DuBose is an author of 164 published papers and chapters in textbooks. With Dr. Lee Hamm, he co-edits the text, Acid-Base and Electrolyte Disorders. Dr. DuBose served as ASN president in 2006. He has also served the society as chair of the Chronic Kidney Disease Advisory Group, a member of the board of advisors, and as its representative on the Council of Subspecialty Societies of the American College of Physicians. He chaired the American Heart Association Council on the Kidney in Cardiovascular Disease and served as a member of the board of regents of the American College of Physicians.

Among many honors, he has received the Donald W. Seldin Award and the President's Award of the National Kidney Foundation, the Distinguished Achievement Award of the American Heart Association Council on the Kidney in Cardiovascular Disease.

Belding H. Scribner Award

Nathan W. Levin, MD

The American Society of Nephrology presented its Belding H. Scribner Award to Nathan W. Levin, MD, FACP, FCP(SA), at Kidney Week 2012.

Dr. Levin is an attending physician at Beth Israel Medical Center, a professor of medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and chair of the Research Board of the Renal Research Institute, all in New York City.

His previous positions include being head of the nephrology and hypertension division at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit and chief of the renal section at the VA Research Hospital in Chicago.

He has been working in nephrology since 1957, when he immigrated to the United States from South Africa.

Established in 1995, the Scribner Award is presented to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the care of patients with renal disorders or have substantially changed the clinical practice of nephrology.

Dr. Levin is the founder and past medical and research director of the Renal Research Institute (RRI), which under his leadership gained global recognition. RRI trains research fellows from countries around the world in kidney disease related clinical research. Its research spans a full spectrum of interests from molecular biology, clinical research, and pharmaceutical trials to epidemiology.

Among his many activities to support the field, Dr. Levin co-chaired the National Kidney Foundation's Dialysis Outcomes Quality Initiative, where he made important contributions to the initiative's clinical practice guidelines. He is a member of the medical advisory board of the American Association of Kidney Patients, a founding member of the Sustainable Kidney Care Foundation, a member of the scientific advisory board of the Dialysis Outcomes and Practice Patterns Study, co-chair of the dialysis advisory committee of the International Society of Nephrology (ISN), an executive committee member of the Kidney Disease: Improving Global Outcomes foundation, a co-founder of the South African Renal Society, and vice president of the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation.

He has also served as president of the Renal Physicians Association, president of New York Dialysis Services, chair of the Roche Foundation for Anemia Research, and a council member of ISN.

He has contributed to the dialysis and nephrology literature by authoring more than 350 peer-reviewed publications.

His many honors and awards include the Joel D. Kopple Award of the International Federation of Kidney Foundations, the Belding Scribner Trailblazer Award of the International Society for Hemodialysis, the Renal Physicians Associates' Distinguished Nephrology Service Award, the Medal of Excellence of the American Association of Kidney Patients, the Fresenius Lifetime Achievement Award, the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation's Recognition Award, the National Kidney Foundation's Garabed Eknoyan Award, the Amgen Recognition Award, an American College of Physicians fellowship, and an honorary doctorate from the Medical University of Lublin, Poland.

Homer W. Smith Award

Ernest M. Wright, PhD

The Homer W. Smith Award was presented to Ernest M. Wright, PhD, at Kidney Week 2012.

Dr. Wright is professor of physiology and Mellinkoff Professor in Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

The Smith Award recognizes those who have made outstanding contributions to understanding how kidneys function in normal and diseased states, and Dr. Wright has been addressing these issues since before joining the faculty of the department of physiology at UCLA in 1967.

As a student, Dr. Wright was fascinated by epithelial physiology and for his doctorate he studied the mechanism of active glucose transport across the intestine. He became interested in understanding active sodium glucose transporters (SGLTs) from the atomic level to their human physiology. He was the first to identify SGLT proteins, and his research team cloned the intestinal and renal transporters, SGLT1 and SGLT2. This discovery led to studies in which they identified mutations in the SGLT1 gene that cause glucose-galactose malabsorption. Dr. Wright has used biophysical and biochemical techniques to elucidate the atomic structure of an SGLT and the mechanisms of sodium glucose transport.

A recent interest is in how new diabetic drugs interact with SGLTs in the kidney and intestine. Working with his research partner, UCLA molecular and medical pharmacologist Jorge Barrio, PhD, Dr. Wright has used positron emission tomography to image SGLT activity throughout the body and to explore their functions in humans. The two are currently studying SGLT activity in human subjects and patients to parse out their role in health and disease.

Dr. Wright served as chair of the department of physiology at UCLA from 1987 to 2000. He has also been a visiting professor at the Center for Advanced Studies at the National Polytechnic Institute in Mexico, at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysics in Frankfurt, and at Queen Elizabeth College at the University of London.

He has published more than 300 peer-reviewed papers and reviews. He has trained some 45 students and fellows, many of whom now hold senior academic positions around the world. He is a fellow of the British Royal Society and a member of the German Academy of Sciences. His research has been supported continuously for 35 years by the National Institutes of Health.

Born in Northern Ireland, Dr. Wright received his doctorate in physiology from the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom. He originally came to the United States for a fellowship in the biophysics laboratory at Harvard University.

Young Investigator Award

Tobias B. Huber, MD

The Young Investigator Award was presented to Tobias B. Huber, MD, at Kidney Week 2012.

Dr. Huber is an associate professor of medicine, principal investigator of the Speman Graduate School, and attending physician in the renal division at the Freiburg University Medical Center in Germany.

Begun in 1985, and co-sponsored by the American Heart Association's Council of the Kidney, the Young Investigator Award recognizes an individual with an outstanding record of achievement and creativity in basic and patient-oriented research related to the functions and diseases of the kidney.

Dr. Huber's translational research program involves model organisms, transgenic mouse models, high-throughput screening, systems biology, and high-resolution imaging approaches to studying glomerular signaling pathways in health and disease.

His team elucidated several key molecular mechanisms of podocyte biology and progressive glomerular disease. They identified signaling programs that regulate podocyte cell survival, endocytosis, cytoskeletal organization, and polarity, which provided novel insights into how podocytes contribute to glomerular diseases.

Recently, Dr. Huber's team established a role of the mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) gene and autophagy in progressive kidney disease and kidney aging. These studies have broad clinical implications, including for potential new therapeutic strategies.

Dr. Huber received his doctoral and medical degrees and completed his nephrology fellowship at the University Medical Center in Freiburg. He conducted his postdoctoral work with Thomas Benzing and Gerd Walz in Freiburg, and Andrey Shaw at the Washington University in St. Louis, where his observations led to the discovery of novel protein complexes and functions of the slit diaphragm.

Dr. Huber has received numerous honors, including three from the German Society of Nephrology: the Young Nephrologist Award in 2002, the Hans U. Zollinger Research Award in 2009, and the Franz Volhard Award (the society's highest research award) in 2010.

President's Medal

Dolph Chianchiano

ASN will present a special President’s Medal to a longtime and effective advocate for improving kidney care, Dolph Chianchiano, JD, MPA, on Friday, Nov. 2.

Mr. Chianchiano was a key leader of the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) for 30 years, serving as senior vice president for health policy and research until his retirement in 2009. He continues to consult for the foundation as a health policy adviser.

Mr. Chianchiano spent four years in health-related research and policy work for the American Heart Association before joining the NKF in 1979 as an associate director, where he began crafting the initiatives that helped build the NKF.

He became the principal architect of NKF’s public policy campaigns and author of NKF’s position papers and policy statements. Under his leadership, NKF became a vigorous proponent of many legislative efforts, resulting in the passage of laws that have helped raise standards for dialysis facilities, expedited the transplantation process, removed barriers to organ donation, and provided funding for lifesaving treatments for kidney patients. As one example of his tenacity, it took 25 years of advocacy by the kidney community to convince the Food and Drug Administration to implement warning labels regarding the potential for kidney damage from over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in 2009.

Mr. Chianchiano was NKF’s principal liaison with several coalitions and government agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, and the American Society of Transplant Surgeons.

As the administrator of NKF’s research program, he made the important decision to expand the program to include not only grants to physicians, but to other members of the health-care team such as nurses, technicians, dietitians, and social workers. That program has distributed almost $80 million in grants.

Mr. Chianchiano was the prime mover behind several of NKF’s signature activities. He was the catalyst for the creation of three peer-reviewed medical journals, including the American Journal of Kidney Disease. He helped develop the popular Spring Clinical Meetings in 1992. He spearheaded the initial Controversies in the Quality of Dialysis Care Conference, which led to the launch of the Kidney Disease Outcomes Quality Initiative. This initiative has published 12 clinical practice guidelines and led to numerous advances in kidney treatment.

Former National Kidney Foundation chair John H. Kirkendall said of Mr. Chianchiano, “His vast knowledge, work ethic, and impeccable honesty are hallmarks everyone should strive for.”

“As someone who has worked with Dolph for three decades, what stands out the most about him are his personal qualities,” said former NKF chief executive officer John Davis. “Not only does he demonstrate his intelligence, humility, humor, wit, and warmth on a daily basis, he has the unique gift of being able to work effectively with people from all different walks of life—from the highest federal government officials to our local volunteers.”