Northwest Kidney Centers announces gift to UW over 5-year span

SEATTLE, Wash. (March 13, 2017): Seattle-based nonprofit dialysis provider Northwest Kidney Centers intends to make a $15 million grant over the next five years to support startup projects within the University of Washington’s Center for Dialysis Innovation. The center, a collaboration of the UW Medicine Kidney Research Institute and UW Biomaterials/Bioengineering, opened last November.

The Center for Dialysis Innovation, led by co-directors Jonathan Himmelfarb, a professor at the UW School of Medicine and director of the Kidney Resarch Institute, and Buddy Ratner, professor of bioengineering and chemical engineering, aims to use biomaterial and bioengineering technologies to transform dialysis care. More than 400,000 people in the United States use blood-cleansing dialysis technology to stay alive. The center envisions that future dialysis therapy will be free of complications and will completely restore kidney health.

“We are incredibly grateful to Northwest Kidney Centers for the gift to launch the Kidney Research Institute in 2008, and now for such a significant boost to the momentum of the Center for Dialysis Innovation,” said Himmelfarb.

The grant from Northwest Kidney Centers represents 60 percent of the center’s five-year fundraising target, which totals $25 million.

“We are excited about the Center for Dialysis Innovation because it brings together creative, entrepreneurial, can-do minds from a wide range of fields including nephrology and bioengineering. This team also wants to involve people living with kidney disease to help direct the center’s focus,” said Joyce F. Jackson, Northwest Kidney Centers president and CEO.

“Their aim is to develop revolutionary dialysis technologies, including a wearable dialysis system that is low-cost, and energy- and water-efficient. This would not only sustain users’ lives, but give them more vitality and productivity. This work is desperately needed,” Jackson said.

“The excitement we feel today harks back to the environment here in Seattle in the early 1960s that produced the first successful dialysis therapy for ongoing treatment of people with permanent kidney failure. We’re eager to see how far talented scientists, engineers and physicians of this current generation can go to provide hope for people with chronic kidney disease,” Jackson said.

“Of special note, 57 years ago this month Dr. Belding Scribner at the University of Washington provided the first successful dialysis treatment, a miracle that has now become mainstream,” Jackson said. “We’re happy to add another milestone to the annals of kidney care as we support the Center for Dialysis Innovation.”

The grant builds on longstanding ties. After the University of Washington team invented technology for ongoing dialysis in 1960, independent Northwest Kidney Centers was founded in 1962 to provide the life-sustaining treatments. It was the first dialysis organization in the world.

As a nonprofit health care provider, Northwest Kidney Centers provides extensive community benefits. For example, gifts from Northwest Kidney Centers to UW Medicine fund fellowships for training nephrologists, and provide ongoing support for the Kidney Research Institute, a collaboration of Northwest Kidney Centers and UW Medicine established in 2008.

“Our mission at Northwest Kidney Centers is to promote optimal health, quality of life and independence for people with kidney disease through patient care, education and research,” Jackson said. “We are able to make this investment in the research arm of our mission thanks to solid financial performance, careful stewardship of resources, and generous contributions to us from donors who deeply care about advancing kidney research.”

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Northwest Kidney Centers is a regional, nonprofit provider of kidney dialysis, public health education, and research into the causes and treatments of chronic kidney disease. Founded in Seattle in 1962, it was the world’s first dialysis organization. Now ranked as the 8th largest dialysis provider in the United States, it is known for high quality services, deep community connections and generous donor support. www.nwkidney.org