Press release

Dr. Alison Potok and Dr. Pablo Garcia join distinguished group of nephrology's top researchers as American Kidney Fund Clinical Scientist in Nephrology fellows

AKF celebrates three decades of funding vital kidney disease research through its elite fellowship program

ROCKVILLE, Md. (February 13, 2019)  — The American Kidney Fund is marking the 30th year of its Clinical Scientist in Nephrology Program in 2019 with the announcement of two research fellowships awarded to Olivia Alison Potok, M.D., a research fellow in nephrology at of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and Pablo Garcia, M.D., a research fellow in nephrology at Stanford University.

Dr. Potok and Dr. Garcia join a distinguished roster of top nephrology researchers who have received early-career support from AKF through the Clinical Scientist Nephrology Program. Since 1989, this program has funded researchers whose work is designed to improve diagnosis, treatment and outcomes for patients living with chronic kidney disease (CKD). Both fellowships will begin July 1.

"The research that Dr. Potok and Dr. Garcia will conduct promises to produce important insights with practical applications in the clinical setting," said LaVarne A. Burton, AKF president and CEO. "Over the past 30 years, the American Kidney Fund has granted research fellowships to 43 brilliant young nephrologists with one overarching goal: improving the care and treatment of patients with kidney disease. These nephrologists have, in turn, gone on to become leaders in the field and mentors to new generations of scientists studying kidney disease."

Dr. Potok's 2019-2020 American Kidney Fund Clinical Scientist in Nephrology Fellowship is funded with support from Akebia Therapeutics, Inc. Her research will focus on better understanding how two common markers used to estimate kidney function relate to aging and body composition. Estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), the most common test for kidney function, can be calculated using different markers in a patient's blood. Dr. Potok will study how discrepancies in these markers correlate with muscle mass and frailty in older patients.

"Akebia is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of therapeutics for patients with kidney disease.  We are proud to support the AKF Clinical Scientist in Nephrology Program — a program that for 30 years has encouraged the most talented and driven young nephrologists to dedicate their careers to clinical research," said John Butler, president and CEO of Akebia Therapeutics, Inc. "With over 30 million people in the U.S. living with kidney disease today, we need to do all we can to advance research, and the CSN program is one of the most effective tools for doing so."

Dr. Garcia's research seeks to better understand the causes and prognosis of primary tubulointerstitial kidney disease, a disorder in which the spaces between the kidney tubules become inflamed for unclear reasons. This inflammation frequently results in permanent scarring and kidney damage. Infections, drugs and environmental toxins can cause tubulointerstitial kidney disease and this type of kidney disease tends to affect young otherwise healthy people in Latin America. Dr. Garcia plans to survey people in high-risk areas and study kidney biopsies from affected people as part of his research.

Dr. Potok began her fellowship with the UCSD Division of Nephrology-Hypertension in July 2016. She completed her medical school training in France at Université Paris V René Descartes and a family medicine residency at Faculté de Médecine de Strasbourg. After moving to the United States, she completed her internal medicine residency at the University of Pennsylvania Health System in Philadelphia.

Dr. Garcia is a first-year nephrology fellow at Stanford University School of Medicine Division of Nephrology. He received his medical degree from the Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala and spent two years doing clinical research on CKD of unknown origin in Guatemala. He underwent clinical training in internal medicine at Rutgers/Saint Peter's University Hospital in New Jersey before joining Stanford's fellowship program.

The CSN program strives to improve the quality of care provided to kidney patients and promotes clinical research in nephrology. It enhances the training of nephrologists who want to pursue an academic career and whose primary professional commitment is to scholarship in the provision of patient care.

About the American Kidney Fund

The American Kidney Fund (AKF) fights kidney disease on all fronts as the nonprofit with the greatest direct impact on people with kidney disease. AKF works on behalf of 1 in 7 Americans living with kidney disease, and the millions more at risk, with an unmatched scope of programs that support people wherever they are in their fight against kidney disease—from prevention through transplant. AKF fights for kidney health for all through programs that address early detection, disease management, financial assistance, clinical research, innovation and advocacy. AKF is one of the nation’s top-rated nonprofits, investing 97 cents of every donated dollar in programs, and holds the highest 4-Star rating from Charity Navigator for 21 consecutive years and the Platinum Seal of Transparency from Candid, formerly known as GuideStar. 

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