Kidney Research Center established at USC
The Keck School of Medicine of USC and the University Kidney Research Organization (UKRO), a Los Angeles-based nonprofit group that supports medical research concerning the causes, improved treatments for and prevention of kidney disease, announced the establishment of the USC/UKRO Kidney Research Center at the Keck School.
The new center was created with the help of a recent gift pledging $3.5 million from UKRO.
During the announcement made on Sept. 19, entertainment lawyer and UKRO founder Ken Kleinberg said he was inspired to raise awareness and funds for kidney research after suffering from a kidney ailment in 1999, which led to a kidney transplant in 2007.
“I was told at the time, ‘We’ve known about [the kidney disease] for years, but we don’t know what causes it,’ ” he said. “That was in 1999; today, in 2012, we still don’t know what causes it. The lesson of all this, of course, is the only way we can conquer kidney disease is through research.”
Singer and songwriter Natalie Cole, who attended USC briefly as a student, remembered her time as a kidney transplant patient in 2009.
“I really didn’t know what to expect,” she said. “Symptoms don’t always show. I found out there are so many people with kidney disease who don’t even know they have it, and that scares me. This moment [of creating the Kidney Research Center] is one that’s most overdue, but welcome.”
Vito Campese, professor of medicine at the Keck School and chair of UKRO’s Medical Scientific Advisory Board, and Edward Crandall, chair of the Department of Medicine at the Keck School, described the importance of prioritizing kidney research through the center.
“With determination and perseverance, Ken Kleinberg and UKRO have really driven this initiative and helped USC make it happen,” Crandall said.
Keck School Dean Carmen A. Puliafito added: “Millions of people in America suffer from chronic kidney disease, but with the establishment of this center, those patients now have an extra champion in the fight. We are proud to be the home of this new center and are grateful for the leadership of Dr. Campese, Edward Crandall and the support from UKRO that helped make establishing the center possible.”
The center will be operated as part of the Keck School’s division of nephrology in the Department of Medicine.
“This inauguration is certainly a landmark in the future of the division of nephrology and kidney research at the Keck School of Medicine, and we’re very happy to work with UKRO,” said Campese, chief of the division. “Partnering together, I think we will create the best research center in nephrology on the West Coast.”