All posts by Pattie Dash

Swami Swaminathan Named NKFMDDE Advisory Board Chair

Swami Swaminathan Named NKFMDDE Board ChairCIO brings 30+ years of healthcare and tech operations expertise to the nonprofit

The National Kidney Foundation Serving Maryland and Delaware (NKFMDDE) has elected Swami Swaminathan to a two-year term as chair of its board of directors.

“Swami has been an asset to our Foundation since joining the board in 2020,” said Pattie Dash, executive director.  “With his extensive healthcare industry experience, we look forward to his building partnerships with government and commercial healthcare organizations to increase awareness of kidney disease.”

A federal government contracting executive, Swaminathan brings more than 30 years of experience, including 17 years in the healthcare industry.  As the Chief Information Officer of RELI Group Inc. in Catonsville, he leads healthcare projects on management consulting, program management, quality improvement, and program integrity for federal programs with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration, National Institutes of Health and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Swaminathan earned a master’s degree in math and operational research, an MBA, and various certifications.  Through the years, he has lent his time and talent to support various nonprofit causes and organizations. Overall, he believes in a “boots on the ground approach to volunteering as a great way to give back to society.”

He joined the NKFMDDE board two years ago and says his focus as its new chair is “advancing priorities in the areas of health equity, education about chronic kidney disease, and building partnerships within the community to move the needle to improve kidney health and education throughout Maryland and Delaware.”

Swaminathan resides in Ellicott City with his wife, Aarti, and their daughters, Pooja and Archana.

About NKF
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, visit

NKF Launches Educational Animated Video Series on Chronic Diseases

Chronic diseases are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States and represent a substantial public health burden.[1] To help patients at varying levels of health literacy understand the connection between kidney diseasecardiovascular disease and diabetes, the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) launched an educational animated video series. Five patient friendly videos, each ranging from about one and a half to two and a half minutes, are available in both English and Spanish to help patients from diverse backgrounds understand these conditions and how they each relate to one another.

Ver en Español

Each of these diseases are serious illnesses on their own, but when patients cope with multiple diseases the impact on their health is even greater. These chronic diseases share the same risk factors too – high cholesterolhigh blood pressurehigh blood sugar (diabetes), obesity, and family history. If you can prevent or manage one chronic disease, that will help you prevent or manage the others.

For instance, if you have diabetes that means your body either doesn’t make enough insulin (type 1 diabetes) or your body produces insulin, but the cells don’t respond the way they should, which is insulin resistance (type 2 diabetes). Both types of diabetes can damage your small blood vessels. When the blood vessels in your kidneys are injured, your kidneys cannot clean your blood properly which can lead to kidney disease. If you have kidney disease, then you’re at higher risk for heart disease and if you have heart disease, you’re at higher risk for kidney disease. According to data from the Third National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES), patients with kidney disease and diabetes were three times more likely to die of heart related causes than those with diabetes alone.

“About 1 in 3 Americans are at risk for kidney disease in the U.S., yet most Americans living with chronic diseases like diabetes do not understand they are at risk,” said Joseph Vassalotti, MD, Chief Medical Officer for the National Kidney Foundation. “Developing these animated educational videos is our way of helping patients understand their individual risk for kidney disease. Importantly, we can then empower individuals to become engaged participants in their kidney disease care to improve outcomes.”

Topics for each animated video include the following: Introduction to chronic kidney disease: what it is, who develops it, and possible causes/risk factors; introduction to chronic cardiovascular disease: what it is, who develops it and possible causes/risk factors; introduction to diabetes: what it is, how it affects your body and possible causes/risk factors; Overview on all three chronic diseases: what each disease is and how they are all connected as well as possible causes/risk factors; Overview on prevention and management: how to prevent and manage all three chronic diseases.

This five-part educational animated video series was supported by Merck, Bayer, AstraZeneca, Boehringer Ingelheim, Lilly and Novo Nordisk.

For more information on the connection between kidney disease and chronic diseases, visit our patient information center at NKF Cares and to learn more about the kidney disease, visit

Kidney Disease Facts

In the United States, 37 million adults are estimated to have chronic kidney disease—and approximately 90 percent don’t know they have it. 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. are at risk for chronic kidney disease. Risk factors for kidney disease include: diabeteshigh blood pressureheart diseaseobesity, and family history. People of Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian American, or Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander descent are at increased risk for developing the disease. Blacks or African Americans are almost 4 times more likely than White Americans to have kidney failure. Hispanics are 1.3 times more likely than non-Hispanics to have kidney failure.

Approximately 785,000 Americans have irreversible kidney failure and need dialysis or a kidney transplant to survive. More than 555,000 of these patients receive dialysis to replace kidney function and 230,000 live with a transplant. Nearly 100,000 Americans are on the waitlist for a kidney transplant right now. Depending on where a patient lives, the average wait time for a kidney transplant can be upwards of three to seven years.

Renal Roundtable Lecture Series: Kidney Transplant Allocation: Challenges of Geography & Equity

Thursday, June 23, 2022; VIRTUAL EVENT

Thank YOU to those who attended this very informative professional education event.

The session was recorded, check out Dr. Klassen’s session from June 23, 2022.

David Klassen, MD presented the recent changes to the kidney transplant allocation process and discussed new approaches being developed to address equity in access. The multiple factors that impact equity in kidney transplantation including geography and transplant center decision making were discussed.

David Klassen, MD joined UNOS in 2014 as Chief Medical Officer. In this role, Dr. Klassen provides an experienced clinical perspective to UNOS policymaking, research, education, and patient safety efforts. He assists with developing, planning, and implementing UNOS’ strategic direction. Prior to coming to UNOS, Dr. Klassen was the Medical Director of the Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Programs at the University of Maryland Hospital, where he was a faculty member beginning in 1986. He has a long history of volunteer leadership with UNOS and many professional societies. Dr. Klassen served on the OPTN/UNOS Board of Directors and as a member of the OPTN/UNOS Kidney Transplantation Committee and Membership and Professional Standards committee. He has published extensively in clinical kidney and pancreas transplantation as well as in transplant outcomes and policy.

Dr. Klassen earned his medical degree from the Ohio State University in Columbus and completed his Internal Medicine and Nephrology training at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland.

Target Audience: This program is intended for medical professionals
(all specialties including primary care physicians) and advanced practitioners.

Cost: Complimentary

With your donation, NKF will be able to provide critical support to transplant recipients, chronic kidney disease, and dialysis patients. Your support helps patients with emergency needs such as transportation to life-saving dialysis treatments, food, rent, utilities, medical equipment, medication expenses, and more!

Questions or need help? Contact Pattie Dash via email

Join us on the Road to Pebble Beach

 Baltimore Country Club

The road to Pebble Beach starts in the Greater Baltimore Area on October 24, 2022! The National Kidney Foundation Konica Minolta Golf Classic is the nation’s Premier Amateur Golf Event for Charity. Each year thousands of golfers from across the country participate in 30 events across the U.S. for the exciting competition and the chance to earn an invitation to the National Finals at Pebble Beach—while raising $3.5 million for the NKF.

Put together a team of your regular foursome, or entertain clients, and get ready to play an invite to National Finals at the Pebble Beach Resorts. Your team can play in either the Handicap Index Division or the Gross Division, providing you and your guests with a competitive yet social day of golf whether you are a low handicapper or new to the game. Each Handicap Index Division team can have one player with a handicap index of 8.0 or less and the total combined handicap index for your four players must be 42.0 or more. The Gross Division is for teams whose golfers do not have an official USGA Handicap Index or do not meet the above Handicap Index requirements.

The top finishing teams in both the Handicap Index and Gross Divisions from every NKF Konica Minolta Golf Classic are invited to compete in the National Finals held at the famed Pebble Beach Resorts (additional fees required). If the upcoming U.S. Open or the U.S. Amateur is not in your future, this three-day tournament may be your only chance to compete for a national championship at the beautiful and challenging Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill Golf Course, and The Links at Spanish Bay, January 2022.

To register to learn more or to register, click here!

We look forward to you joining us in Fall 2022!

George Kilbourne and Mike Rolfes

Co-Chairs, Golf Committee

Chair, NKF Serving Maryland & Delaware Board 

NKF Innovation Fund Seeks to Accelerate Kidney Disease Therapies

Potentially game changing impact investment program aimed at fundamentally disrupting the fight against kidney disease

April 11, 2022, New York, NY —The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) today, announced the launch of the NKF Innovation Fund, a new impact investment program aimed at fundamentally disrupting the fight against kidney disease.

“The kidney health landscape is broken and lacks needed innovation,” said Kevin Longino, chief executive officer of NKF and a kidney transplant patient. “Dialysis has been the go-to treatment for more than half a century.  Fifty years without major progress is unacceptable.  About 37 million Americans have kidney disease and many crash into kidney failure and require dialysis before ever being diagnosed. We need a fundamental change in how we deal with kidney disease. Our Innovation Fund will provide donors with a unique opportunity to see their dollars support companies pursuing the most promising therapies, treatments and prevention methods that offer the potential to transform kidney care.”

The NKF Innovation Fund’s goal is to accelerate funding, development, and commercialization of therapies that kidney patients need and deserve. The fund will primarily invest in early to mid-stage companies that are developing innovative, patient-centric kidney therapies. The NKF Fund is modeled after similar vehicles used by other leading patient organizations to spur industry to develop transformative treatments with other diseases. NKF believes kidney patients deserve no less.

NKF’s Innovation Fund is already attracting interest from major donors and innovator companies. In March, the Fund made one of its first investments. Kuleana Technology, located in Seattle, Washington, is a spinoff from the University of Washington and closely aligned with both the Center for Dialysis Innovation at the University of Washington, and with the Northwest Kidney Centers. The company is developing a groundbreaking portable hemodialysis device that will not require connection to an external water source. The new technology will be more effective than current dialysis since it will allow patients to dialyze on the go, enabling whenever, wherever dialysis for millions of patients around the world living with kidney failure.

“Our vision is very straightforward,’ added Longino. “We are going after the full spectrum of kidney disease. With the NKF Innovation Fund we want to prevent kidney disease, eliminate the transplant wait list, and provide better, safer treatments for dialysis patients so they can live fuller and more productive lives. That’s the prism we’re looking through for every investment we make, and I think our first investment into this space shows just how serious we are.”

“We are excited and enthusiastic to be partnering with the National Kidney Foundation in this pioneering effort to impact the lives of people living with advanced kidney disease. Like NKF, we recognize the large unmet need to create transformative dialysis therapies that are safer, more effective, give patients freedom and mobility, in order to significantly improve their quality of life”, said Dr Jonathan Himmelfarb, President and CEO of Kuleana Technology.

For more information about the NKF Innovation Fund visit To learn more about kidney disease and how to maintain optimal kidney health visit

About Kidney Disease

In the United States, 37 million adults are estimated to have kidney disease, also known as chronic kidney disease—and approximately 90 percent don’t know they have it.  1 in 3 American adults are at risk for chronic kidney disease.  Risk factors for kidney disease include: diabeteshigh blood pressureheart diseaseobesity, and family history. People of African American, Hispanic, American Indian, Asian, or Pacific Islander descent are at increased risk for developing the disease. African Americans are almost 4 times more likely than White Americans to have kidney failure.  Hispanics are 1.3 times more likely than non-Hispanics to have kidney failure.

About National Kidney Foundation

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

NKF Serving Maryland & Delaware Research Grant Application Process is now OPEN!

The National Kidney Foundation Serving Maryland & Delaware (NKFMDDE) is pleased to announce our Research Application Portal OPENS tonight at 9:00pm – May 2, 2022.  Over the years, the National Kidney Foundation has invested over $100 million to support the treatment of kidney disease. Locally, the National Kidney Foundation Serving Maryland & Delaware (NKFMDDE) has been able to distribute over $3,500,000 over the last few decades for pilot projects and for those early in their academic careers. Funding supports pilot projects focused on different areas of kidney disease (i.e., blood pressure, chronic kidney disease, urological disease, dialysis, and transplantation) that will ultimately impact improvement in the care of kidney disease patients through discovering novel mechanisms or management strategies.   

Local Types of Grants

  1. Professional Development Awards- a maximum award not to exceed $40,000
  2. Mini-Grants – awards up to $10,000 each

Locally, the Medical Advisory Board (MAB) meets to review grants annually. The MAB determines the awards that are distributed and monitors the progress of each grant. Grant applications are reviewed and scored by a committee of dedicated medical advisors.  

The grant cycle opens Monday, May 2nd at 9:00pm

The grant cycle closes June 20th at 5:00pm*

Award announcements will be made by mid-September.

Click here to access NKFMDDE’s GRANT PORTAL.

If you have questions or need assistance with the application portal please contact Pattie Dash, Executive Director,, or via cell at 410.961.1644.

*This deadline/timeframe is non-negotiable and only fully completed applications will be considered.

The National Kidney Foundation is the leading organization in the U.S. dedicated to the awareness, prevention, and treatment of kidney disease for hundreds of thousands of healthcare professionals, millions of patients and their families, and tens of millions of Americans at risk.


Sumeska Thavarajah, MD
Chair, NKFMDDE Research Grants

The First State celebrates a BIG WIN today!

April 28th Governor John Carney signed the Living Donor Protection Act into law! Delaware is now the 25th state to pass the Living Donor Protection Act. We are so proud of every advocate who helped to make this milestone happen.

We are grateful to our partner, Beebe Healthcare, for hosting Governor John Carney for today’s signing of the Living Donor Protection Act. Special thanks to Kidney Advocate Charles Harvey and his wife Patricia for bringing this bill to Senator Ernie Lopez and Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf. It’s no surprise that the bill passed unanimously!  

Check out the great news here!

Maryland & Delaware Kidney Walk Events

We are walking again in 2022 and we invite you to walk with us.

After two years of LacingUp virtually, we are thrilled to welcome you back to the Kidney Walk we all love! We are excited to offer two journeys to match your comfort level this year – in-person and virtual.  Your health and safety continue to be our number one priority, so please bear with us if there are any changes along the way. 

Board Member, Tisha Guthrie (L) and Dr. Edward Kraus (R) Medical Advisory Board Member

Join Us – find a walk near you at and sign up YOUR team!

Southern Delaware Kidney Walk- Sunday, May 1st

LIVING WITH KIDNEY DISEASE- Making Healthy Lifestyle Choices with CKD


Join us on TUESDAY, MARCH 29, 2022 from
6:00-7:00pm for a Virtual Webinar!


Register today to receive your FREE recipe cards in the mail!

• Dr. Chris Gisler is a board-certified physician specializing in nephrology and internal medicine. He is a clinical nephrologist at Partners in Nephrology and Endocrinology in Washington, PA as well
as the medical director at DaVita Kidney Care. Learn how making small incremental lifestyle changes can have a significant impact on protecting the health of your kidneys.
• Heather Lash, RD, LDN has been a registered dietitian for 22 years working with patients on dialysis. She will focus on healthy cooking, decreasing stress, grocery shopping, and reading food labels.
• Timmy Nelson, Patient Advocate, sharing his personal story and how he coped while on dialysis.