November 2017: News Briefs

Cricket Names Danny Shapiro CBO
Danny Shapiro has been named chief business officer of Cricket Health, a developer of technology-enabled care solutions for patients with chronic kidney disease and end-stage renal disease. Mr. Shapiro was most recently chief operating officer of Home Care Assistance and prior to that held the position of vice president at DaVita Kidney Care.

In a press release from Cricket, Arvind Rajan, co-founder and chief executive officer, said, “We’re delighted to welcome Danny to our team. He brings tremendous experience, contacts, and expertise in kidney dialysis that cannot be replicated, and an incredible passion and commitment to improving the lives of patients.”

Mr. Shapiro said, “I’m excited to join Cricket Health. I’ve been long passionate about bringing together the best of technology, hospitality, and human-centered design to improve the health and quality of life for patients with kidney disease.”

In his new position at Cricket, Mr. Shapiro will focus on developing go-to-market strategies, building partnerships with relevant payers and providers, and expanding the company’s clinical footprint, the press release said.

Fresenius Announces Scholarship Program for ANNA Members
Fresenius Medical Care North America (FMCNA) has announced a $20,000 grant for the scholarship program of the American Nephrology Nurses Association (ANNA) for educational scholarships. The program will award $4000 scholarships to five nephrology nurses who seek to further their education.

In a press release, Franklin Maddux, MD, FACP, chief medical officer and executive vice president for clinical and scientific affairs at FMCNA, said, “Nephrology nurses are dedicated to providing personalized care to people living with kidney disease, and their passion and commitment to patients truly makes a difference. This contribution to their professional association is our way of not only thanking these caregivers who are vital to the profession, but also helping them further their careers.”

Alice M. Hellebrand, MSN, RN, CNN, ANNA president, said, “Assisting nephrology nurses by supporting their education not only helps their careers, it helps patients. We appreciate this partnership and generous grant from Fresenius Medical Care North American to benefit nephrology nurses who want to continue their nursing education.”

The scholarships will be awarded separately from ANNA’s current scholarship program. All members of ANNA are eligible for the new scholarships; members may apply directly for the scholarships. The deadline is March 15, 2018. Winners will be announced at ANNA’s National Symposium, April 15-18, 2018, in Las Vegas. Funds will be distributed ahead of the fall 2018 academic year. Visit for more information.

Michael Huguelet Executive VP of US Renal Care
Michael Huguelet has been named executive vice president and chief development officer of US Renal Care (USRC), a provider of dialysis services for patients with end-stage kidney disease. In a press release from USRC, Chris Brengard, CEO, said, “Given that the healthcare industry is experiencing rapid change in all sectors, it is important that USRC continues to build a strong foundation for the future, focused on strategic growth and providing excellent patient care. We are looking forward to working with Mike to continue our strong growth and seek out new platforms to provide quality care to patients. Mike has shown a strong commitment to excellence in patient care and is the ideal person to bolster USRC’s sustained success moving forward.”

Mr. Huguelet said, “US Renal Care’s reputation for smart, calculated business growth while maintaining an exceptional level of patient care made the decision to join this company an easy one…I am excited for the opportunity to join Us Renal Care as we build towards a promising future centered around innovative care.”

Fresenius Offers Kidney Care to San Angelo-Area Residents
Fresenius Kidney Care has announced that patients in San Angelo, Texas, Brady, Texas, and surrounding areas, now have access to dialysis treatments and enhanced renal services at two new Fresenius Kidney Care outpatient facilities. One of the facilities offers at-home dialysis. The two facilities are attached to Shannon Hospital Centers. Both clinics will provide patient education with implementation of the new Fresenius Kidney Care Advocate Program.

In a press release, Tammy Stafford, Fresenius Kidney Care director of operations, said, “Our goal is to help people live the healthiest, fullest lives with the treatment program that best fits their lifestyles. By offering our patients high-quality care rooted in innovation, we can empower people in their treatment journey so they can continue thriving in their daily lives.”

NKF Awards Five Young Scientists Grants to Fund Ongoing Research
The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) announced the recipients of the 2017 National Kidney Foundation Young Investigator Research Grant Program. The grants are awarded to young scientists to help fund research that will uncover the causes of kidney disease, prevent progression of kidney disease, and improve treatments for those living with kidney disease. The NKF announced the five recipients in a press release.

Kevin Erickson, MD, MS, is the recipient of the 2017 Southwest Texas Young Investigator Research Grant. His research aims to determine whether nephrology care prior to development of end-stage renal disease can help patients remain employed. “Many patients are unable to continue working after they initiate dialysis, which can lead to a reduced sense of well-being, poorer quality of life, and increased state and federal expenditures,” Dr. Erickson said.

Elaine Ku, MD, of San Francisco, California, has been awarded the 2017 Satellite Dialysis Clinical Investigator Grant for her research examining the obesity paradox. The obesity in adult patients on hemodialysis has been shown to be associated with a survival advantage compared with adult patients of normal weight; there is no similar association between a lower risk of death among obese children on hemodialysis compared with normal weight children on hemodialysis. This is the second straight year Dr. Ku had received a grant as part of the NFK Young Investigator Research Grant Program. “I feel very fortunate to have the support of NKF two years in a row,” Dr. Ku said. “I am excited to be able to continue research in this area.”

John Richard Lee, MD, MS, at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York Presbyterian Hospital-Weill Cornell Medical Center, has received a 2017 to help fund a study seeking to develop new tests to decrease the incidence of peritonitis in patients receiving home peritoneal dialysis. “I am immensely thankful for the support of the National Kidney Foundation. Determining the cause of peritonitis can be challenging, as current culture methods do not always identify pathogens. In this project, we plan to investigate cell-free DNA technology as a culture-independent method to diagnose the pathogens associated with peritonitis,” Dr. Lee said.

Meghan Pearl, MD, a clinical instructor in the division of pediatric nephrology at Mattel Children’s Hospital, University of California at Los Angeles, has been awarded a grant for her work examining angiotensin II type 1 receptor antibodies (ATIR-Ab) in pediatric kidney transplantation. Het study aims to maximize kidney transplant survival in children. The ATIR-Ab has been associated with kidney transplant rejection and failure in adults; there are few data on the role of ATIR-Ab in pediatric patients. “Ultimately, we hope to discover how to make kidney transplants last longer, and therefore, significantly improve the lives of children with end-stage renal disease,” Dr. Pearl said.

Connie M. Rhee, MD, MSC, assistant professor of medicine at the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine, division of nephrology and hypertension, has received a grant to fund a trial designed to examine whether thyroid hormone replacement improves new dialysis patients’ quality of life. “It is a tremendous privilege and a life-long career goal to receive this award,” Dr. Rhee said. “A growing body of evidence shows that thyroid dysfunction is associated with impaired quality of life and higher mortality risk…While thyroid hormone supplementation is one of the most frequently prescribed medications in kidney disease patients, little is known about it efficacy and safety in this population.”