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Harris appointed co-chair of ASN’s Kidney Health Initiative

Dec. 20, 2018, 10:16 AM


by Kelsey Herbers

Raymond Harris, MD, Ann and Roscoe R. Robinson Professor of Nephrology and director of the Vanderbilt Center for Kidney Disease, has been appointed co-chair of the American Society of Nephrology’s (ASN) Kidney Health Initiative (KHI).

Raymond Harris, MD

The KHI seeks to advance the scientific understanding of kidney diseases by developing and interpreting large-scale pragmatic clinical trials, developing guidelines to determine how success looks in those trials and increasing patient engagement at all levels of research.

The association is a joint partnership between ASN and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to remove barriers in the development of new therapeutics and devices for treating kidney diseases. More than 90 member organizations are involved, ranging from academic centers and patient organizations to dialysis providers and some of the country’s largest drug and device manufacturers specializing in kidney disease treatment.

Harris served as president of ASN from 2016 through 2017, previously serving in other roles since 2010, including chair of the Education Committee, liaison to KHI and president-elect. He was on ASN’s council in 2012 when KHI was first initiated, enabling him to watch it grow from its inception to where it is today.

“KHI is a great organization, and I think it’s important for the health of the country for this initiative to work well,” Harris said. “The number of patients with kidney disease is very large in this country. Treatment of ESRD (end-stage renal disease) patients on dialysis or transplant is such a large percentage of the Medicare budget that if we can develop methods, drugs and devices to decrease that burden, I think it has incredible societal implications.”

Harris hopes to bring his understanding of the kidney community and his background in basic science to the role to help overcome some of the obstacles to kidney disease prevention and treatment. He believes the knowledge gained from colleagues in Vanderbilt’s Division of Nephrology will also help guide the way.

“I think this role is completely complementary to everything we’re doing in the Division of Nephrology,” said Harris. “We have a lot of basic and translational research going on to understand mechanisms of kidney disease that can be used to develop treatments — both with drugs as well as devices — and we have expertise in implementing multi-center clinical trials. With our scientific alliance with Bayer, it also fits in very well with our understanding of how to develop new targets and bring them to clinical trial.”

Harris’ three-year term will begin Jan. 1, 2019, with a second three-year term possible.

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