2017 Award Recipients

Robert G. Narins Award

Joel M. Topf, MD

Joel M. Topf, MD, will receive the Robert G. Narins Award on Saturday, Nov. 4, for his innovative efforts to incorporate the latest forms of electronic communication and social media into medical education. Dr. Topf is partner at St Clair Nephrology and an assistant clinical professor at Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine in the Detroit metro area.

He became involved in medical education before he even graduated from medical school. During his third year at Wayne State University medical school, he and fellow student Sarah Faubel wrote a microbiology study guide for medical students that they sold nationwide. This unexpected success inspired a second endeavor. During his internal medicine and pediatrics residency at Indiana University, he wrote a book about nephrology entitled, The Fluid, Electrolyte, and Acid-Base Companion.

After his nephrology fellowship residency at the University of Chicago, Dr. Topf returned to Detroit and began working at St. Clair Nephrology. In addition to his hospital rounds, clinic time, and dialysis duties, he continued to teach. In 2008, he started one of the first nephrology blogs, Precious Bodily Fluids, named after the obsession he shared with one of the characters in Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove.

As the number of nephrologists interested in online education grew, in 2011 he joined with Kenar D. Jhaveri, MD, FASN, and Matthew A. Sparks, MD, FASN, to establish the official blog of the American Journal of Kidney Diseases. This landmark event turned blogging and social media medical education from a solo to a collaborative practice.

In 2013, Dr. Sparks and Dr. Topf created NephMadness, an online educational game that leverages the excitement surrounding the U.S. collegiate basketball tournament known as March Madness. NephMadness continues to be a high-profile, social media-based, educational campaign with participants from around the world. It involves dozens of people working to generate educational content.

The next year, Dr. Topf joined with Swapnil Hiremath to create NephJC, a journal club that uses Twitter to discuss the research, guidelines, and editorials that are driving nephrology. The outlet has reviewed more than 70 articles and engages 150 nephrologists with each discussion.

Dr. Topf is currently working with other early adopters to teach social media skills to the next generation of nephrologists through the Nephrology Social Media Collective Internship. He is helping the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology to incorporate the new medium of visual abstracts. He serves on the ASN Communications and Media Committee.

He is also an assistant clinical professor at the Wayne State University School of Medicine and the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine.

John P. Peters Award

Ronald J. Falk, MD, FASN

ASN will recognize the wide-ranging contributions of Ronald J. Falk, MD, FASN, with the presentation of the John P. Peters Award on Saturday, Nov. 4.

The John P. 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.

Dr. Falk is an internationally recognized physician-scientist who has devoted more than three decades to the study of autoimmune kidney disease and ANCA vasculitis in an effort to improve the lives of patients afflicted with these conditions. His research has led to a deeper understanding of the causes and conditions that lead to the development of ANCA vasculitis.

Dr. Falk chairs the department of medicine at the University of North Carolina. He is also chair of Carolina Dialysis, LLC and chair and co-founder of the Carolina Vascular Access Center. In 2005, he founded and became director of the UNC Kidney Center.

Dr. Falk served as ASN president from 2011 to 2012. He has served ASN in various other capacities, including on the council, finance committee, education committee, and annual meeting program committee. He has served as chair or a member of several National Institutes of Health study sections and steering committees. He founded Kidney Health Initiative, a public-private partnership with the ASN and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

He has served on many editorial boards, including for Kidney International, Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, Journal of Nephrology, American Journal of Kidney Diseases, and American Family Physicians. His research has resulted in more than 230 publications in peer-reviewed journals, and he has contributed some 140 book chapters and reviews and more than 300 abstracts.

Dr. Falk has received a number of distinguished professorships at UNC and was most recently honored with the Nan and Hugh Cullman Eminent Professorship in 2016. He has received numerous other honors and awards, including recognition as one of the “Best Doctors in America” every year since 1982.

Dr. Falk obtained his MD from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. He served as chief of the division of nephrology and hypertension at the University of North Carolina from 1993 through 2015.

Belding H. Scribner Award

Raymond M. Hakim, MD, PhD

The Belding H. Scribner Award will be tendered to Raymond M. Hakim, MD, PhD, on Saturday, Nov. 4, for his career-long contributions to the practice of nephrology. Dr. Hakim is professor of medicine in the division of nephrology and hypertension at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Established in 1995, the Belding H. Scribner Award is presented to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the care of patients with renal disorders or have substantially influenced the clinical practice of nephrology. Dr. Hakim has made significant contributions in patient care, research, and service to professional organizations.

Dr. Hakim began his career as an engineer. He received a master of science degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a PhD in engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1967. He worked in Montreal as a research engineer at Hydro-Quebec.

He changed his career path to study medicine at McGill University and completed his residency in internal medicine at the Royal Victoria Hospital in 1979. He followed this with a fellowship in nephrology at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

From 1981 to 1987, he was associate professor of medicine at Harvard and attending nephrologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. In 1987, he became professor of medicine at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine as well as director of clinical services in nephrology and medical director of the dialysis facility at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

In 1995, Dr. Hakim was one of the founders and chief medical officer of the Renal Care Group, a provider of outpatient dialysis services. By 2005, the Renal Care Group had more than 35,000 patients and had the lowest mortality and hospitalization rates among all dialysis providers, according to the United States Renal Data System (USRDS). The group merged with Fresenius Medical Care in 2007, and Dr. Hakim became the chief medical officer, serving from 2009 to 2012. His tenure was associated with a 20% reduction in mortality and hospitalization of its patients.

Dr. Hakim has spoken at many patient and health care professional meetings, authored more than 190 articles on clinical and basic research in dialysis and plasmapheresis, and contributed 35 chapters to medical books. He has served as a member of the editorial boards of the American Journal of Kidney Disease, Seminars in Dialysis, and Kidney International.

He chaired several professional committees, including the National Kidney Foundation of Middle Tennessee, USRDS scientific advisory committee, and Renal Physicians Association program planning committee. He has served ASN in many capacities and is currently a member of the public policy board.

He has received many awards, most notably, several “Best Doctors in America” listings, the Joel D. Kopple Award of the National Kidney Foundation, and the Medal of Excellence Award from the American Association of Kidney Patients.

Homer W. Smith Award

Martin R. Pollak, MD

Acclaimed researcher Martin R. Pollak, MD, will be presented the Homer W. Smith Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to understanding how kidneys function in normal and diseased states, on Friday, Nov. 3.

Dr. Pollak will speak on “Kidney Disease Genetics: From Rare to Common Variants.” He is professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and chief of the division of nephrology at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

His research has focused on the genetic basis of kidney disease, with a particular interest in identifying and understanding the genes involved in the development of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) in humans. Intrigued by the high rate of FSGS and hypertension-associated kidney disease in African Americans, he and his collaborators recently showed that common coding sequence variants in the APOL1 gene explain much of the high rate of kidney disease in people of recent African ancestry.

A second major focus of his study has been the extracellular calcium receptor. Dr. Pollak cloned the human calcium-sensing receptor gene and demonstrated that defects in this receptor cause three distinct disorders of extracellular calcium homeostasis.

An active member of ASN, he has served on the genetics subcommittee, program committee, and basic science committee. For the National Institutes of Health (NIH), he has served on an FSGS task force and advisory committees on CRISPR gene editing technology.

Dr. Pollak has served as a consulting editor for the Journal of Clinical Investigation and is on the editorial boards of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology and Kidney International.

He has been recognized with the Marilyn Farquhar Award for Podocyte Biology by the NephCure Foundation and physician scientist awards from NIH. In addition to his research and clinical activities, Dr. Pollak teaches medical students, residents, and fellows.

A graduate of the New York University School of Medicine, Dr. Pollak completed an internal medicine residency at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center and a nephrology fellowship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the department of genetics at Harvard Medical School.

Young Investigator Award

Chirag R. Parikh, MD, PhD, FASN

The ASN-AHA Young Investigator Award and Address will be presented to Chirag R. Parikh, MD, PhD, who will speak on “Biomarkers for Phenotyping Clinical AKI: Optimizing Questions, Tools, and Trials” on Sunday, Nov. 5.

Dr. Parikh is professor of medicine and investigative medicine and director of the Program of Applied Translational Research at the Yale School of Medicine.

Recognized internationally for his accomplishments in the study of AKI and biomarkers, Dr. Parikh is leading a paradigm change by generating evidence for various clinical applications of structural injury biomarkers in AKI. He has created major multi-disciplinary consortia, developed a large biosample repository, and designed a robust mentoring program to pave the way for continued research innovation.

In 2005, Dr. Parikh established the Translational Research Investigating Biomarker End-points (TRIBE) Consortium, a multidisciplinary collaboration of 11 academic centers in North America. Funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the TRIBE Consortium has conducted several prospective cohort studies for the discovery and validation of kidney biomarkers. It has enrolled more than 5000 patients to evaluate complications after cardiac surgery and collected over 500,000 blood and urine samples to evaluate the role of kidney injury markers of apoptosis, inflammation, injury, and repair. This effort enabled Dr. Parikh to perform the largest validation study to date of urinary biomarkers in kidney injury after cardiac surgery, which has resulted in the development of several biomarkers.

Dr. Parikh was also among the first to provide evidence that AKI is not simply a temporary and reversible co-morbidity, but rather a condition associated with long-term mortality and chronic kidney disease. He published the first study to demonstrate the association of longer-term mortality with kidney injury biomarkers. His findings are being translated rapidly to clinical practice by the inclusion of structural biomarkers in upcoming AKI guidelines.

In addition to his work in AKI, Dr. Parikh has initiated large, NIH-funded, multicenter studies in the areas of deceased-donor kidney transplantation, hepatorenal syndrome, HIV nephropathy, and diabetic kidney disease. Dr. Parikh has published more than 250 peer-reviewed articles.

Dr. Parikh has received consistent outstanding teacher reviews from medical students and nephrology fellows. He has attracted so many fellows and residents to his research program that his trainees are listed as the first author on more than 70 publications. In 2011, he received the prestigious NIH K24 Mid-Career Research Mentoring Award.

Dr. Parikh earned his MD from Seth G.S. Medical College in Mumbai and completed his internal medicine training at Nassau University Hospital and SUNY Stony Brook in New York. He completed his nephrology fellowship and earned his PhD in clinical investigation at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

President's Medal

Richard Knight, MBA

Two leaders of the American Association of Kidney Patients (AAKP) will be honored with the ASN President’s Medals on Thursday, Nov. 2. Paul T. Conway is President of AAKP, and Richard A. Knight, MBA, is Vice President and Chair of the Public Policy Committee for AAKP.

“Paul T. Conway and Richard Knight are tireless advocates for the millions of people with kidney diseases, their families, and their caregivers,” said ASN Executive Vice President Tod Ibrahim. “This dynamic duo takes every opportunity to raise awareness about kidney diseases among the public, policymakers, politicians, and the press. In addition, they help lead the kidney community’s efforts to advocate for the highest quality care possible—including increased funding for kidney research—among the legislative and regulatory branches of the U.S. government.”

Mr. Conway has managed kidney disease for more than 35 years—including receiving peritoneal dialysis treatment for many years before a kidney transplant in 1997. Professionally, he has substantial experience developing and managing federal and state government policy development and legislative implementation strategies, including the engagement of stakeholder organizations and the use of social and traditional media.

Mr. Knight is a former hemodialysis patient who received a kidney transplant more than a decade ago. His professional background is in public policy and congressional operations; he has served in various roles on Capitol Hill, including as communication director, legislative director, and liaison to the Congressional Black Caucus.

Mr. Conway has experience in the private, nonprofit, and government sectors. His expertise in federal and state agency management and personnel operations was honed through service under four U.S. presidents, three governors, and in support of five presidential transitions. He served as the team lead for the Office of Personnel Management on the transition team for President-elect Donald Trump.

His previous federal posts have included chief of staff of the Department of Labor, of the Office of Personnel Management, and of the Office of Gulf Coast Rebuilding within the Department of Homeland Security. He was also a special assistant in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

He served the commonwealth of Virginia as a deputy secretary of health and human resources, a member of the Board of Health Professions, a member of the protection panel for homeland security planning, and an external reviewer of Virginia health, disability, and mental health modernization proposals.

As a patient advocacy leader and policy professional, Mr. Conway has used his knowledge of executive branch and congressional processes to elevate an independent patient voice on issues ranging from innovations in medical treatment and devices, improved access to treatment modalities, payment models, and quality-of-care measurements.

He serves on many national boards and committees, including the Kidney Health Initiative, the kidney committee of the United Network for Organ Sharing Kidney Committee, and the Center for Dialysis Innovation at the University of Washington. He has co-chaired several technical evaluation panels for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Mr. Knight also has a background in public policy and congressional affairs. While working for the U.S. House of Representatives, he was involved in substantial work with the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Small Business Committee. He gained experience in federal agency budget and procurement policies working as a government contractor and for ten years as co-chair of the Baltimore Washington Corridor Chamber of Commerce annual regional government procurement fair.

As a small business owner, he is heavily involved in business and education issues through several executive networks in the Washington, D.C., region. He serves as adjunct professor at Bowie State University.

As a national kidney patient advocate, Mr. Knight was recently appointed to serve as a member of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases advisory council and serves as an AAKP representative to a National Quality Forum working group. He has served as a member of four technical expert panels for CMS. He is a founding member of the End Stage Renal Disease Health Information Technology Project of the National Renal Administrators Association and serves on the National Kidney Disease Education Program’s Health Information Technology Working Group.

Paul T. Conway

Two leaders of the American Association of Kidney Patients (AAKP) will be honored with the ASN President’s Medals on Thursday, Nov. 2. Paul T. Conway is President of AAKP, and Richard A. Knight, MBA, is Vice President and Chair of the Public Policy Committee for AAKP.

“Paul T. Conway and Richard Knight are tireless advocates for the millions of people with kidney diseases, their families, and their caregivers,” said ASN Executive Vice President Tod Ibrahim. “This dynamic duo takes every opportunity to raise awareness about kidney diseases among the public, policymakers, politicians, and the press. In addition, they help lead the kidney community’s efforts to advocate for the highest quality care possible—including increased funding for kidney research—among the legislative and regulatory branches of the U.S. government.”

Mr. Conway has managed kidney disease for more than 35 years—including receiving peritoneal dialysis treatment for many years before a kidney transplant in 1997. Professionally, he has substantial experience developing and managing federal and state government policy development and legislative implementation strategies, including the engagement of stakeholder organizations and the use of social and traditional media.

Mr. Knight is a former hemodialysis patient who received a kidney transplant more than a decade ago. His professional background is in public policy and congressional operations; he has served in various roles on Capitol Hill, including as communication director, legislative director, and liaison to the Congressional Black Caucus.

Mr. Conway has experience in the private, nonprofit, and government sectors. His expertise in federal and state agency management and personnel operations was honed through service under four U.S. presidents, three governors, and in support of five presidential transitions. He served as the team lead for the Office of Personnel Management on the transition team for President-elect Donald Trump.

His previous federal posts have included chief of staff of the Department of Labor, of the Office of Personnel Management, and of the Office of Gulf Coast Rebuilding within the Department of Homeland Security. He was also a special assistant in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

He served the commonwealth of Virginia as a deputy secretary of health and human resources, a member of the Board of Health Professions, a member of the protection panel for homeland security planning, and an external reviewer of Virginia health, disability, and mental health modernization proposals.

As a patient advocacy leader and policy professional, Mr. Conway has used his knowledge of executive branch and congressional processes to elevate an independent patient voice on issues ranging from innovations in medical treatment and devices, improved access to treatment modalities, payment models, and quality-of-care measurements.

He serves on many national boards and committees, including the Kidney Health Initiative, the kidney committee of the United Network for Organ Sharing Kidney Committee, and the Center for Dialysis Innovation at the University of Washington. He has co-chaired several technical evaluation panels for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Mr. Knight also has a background in public policy and congressional affairs. While working for the U.S. House of Representatives, he was involved in substantial work with the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Small Business Committee. He gained experience in federal agency budget and procurement policies working as a government contractor and for ten years as co-chair of the Baltimore Washington Corridor Chamber of Commerce annual regional government procurement fair.

As a small business owner, he is heavily involved in business and education issues through several executive networks in the Washington, D.C., region. He serves as adjunct professor at Bowie State University.

As a national kidney patient advocate, Mr. Knight was recently appointed to serve as a member of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases advisory council and serves as an AAKP representative to a National Quality Forum working group. He has served as a member of four technical expert panels for CMS. He is a founding member of the End Stage Renal Disease Health Information Technology Project of the National Renal Administrators Association and serves on the National Kidney Disease Education Program’s Health Information Technology Working Group.