California Nephrologist Receives National Kidney Foundation Young Investigator Grant

Trial Examines Whether Thyroid Hormone Replacement Improves New Dialysis Patients’
Quality of Life
New York—Wednesday, September 13, 2017– Connie M. Rhee, MD, MSc, has been awarded a 2017 Young Investigator Grant by the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) for her project, a pilot trial of thyroid hormone replacement for new patients on dialysis.
"It is a tremendous privilege and a life-long career goal to receive this award, and I hope to serve the National Kidney Foundation and its mission to improve the health and well-being of patients with kidney disease through my research endeavors,” said Dr. Rhee, Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine, Division of Nephrology and Hypertension.
She received the grant as part of the NKF Young Investigator Research Grant Program, which strives to improve the quality of life for those with kidney disease by funding promising young scientists in their research to discover the causes of kidney disease, how to prevent its progression and ways to improve treatment for those living with it today. For her study, Dr. Rhee explains that hypothyroidism is a highly prevalent, yet under-recognized endocrine complication in dialysis patients.
“A growing body of evidence shows that thyroid dysfunction is associated with impaired quality of life and higher mortality risk, presumably via cardiovascular pathways, in the kidney disease population,” Dr. Rhee said. “While thyroid hormone supplementation is one of the most frequently prescribed medications in kidney disease patients, little is known about its efficacy and safety in this population.”
Dr. Rhee added that her study will investigate whether thyroid hormone supplementation adequately corrects thyroid functional tests to therapeutic target ranges, and if thyroid hormone replacement improves quality of life and cardiovascular markers among “incident” (new) dialysis patients. Our NKF Young Investigator Research Program exists to help Dr. Rhee and other pioneering researchers find answers to ultimately benefit kidney patients.
“It’s critical that we stay on the front lines of clinical science that discovers better ways to treat and fight kidney disease,” said Kevin Longino, CEO of the National Kidney Foundation and a kidney transplant recipient. “It’s our responsibility and privilege to support researchers whose cutting-edge work can lead to real breakthroughs for each one of the millions of kidney patients like me.”
The NKF Young Investigator Grants are awarded for one-year terms. They are given based upon careful and balanced peer review by an independent committee, with an emphasis on the support of high-quality, clinical investigation.
Kidney Disease Facts
30 million American adults are estimated to have chronic kidney disease—and most aren’t aware of it. 1 in 3 American adults are at risk for chronic kidney disease. Risk factors for kidney disease include diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and family history of kidney failure. People of African American, Hispanic, Native American, Asian or Pacific Islander descent are at increased risk for developing the disease. African Americans are 3 times more likely than Whites, and Hispanics are nearly 1.5 times more likely than non-Hispanics to develop end-stage renal disease (kidney failure).

The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) is the largest, most comprehensive and longstanding organization dedicated to the awareness, prevention and treatment of kidney disease. For more information about NKF visit