Dr. Ronald J. Falk is described by his colleagues as a quadruple threat: “a stellar clinician, teacher, researcher and administrator.”
Falk received a BA Cum Laude from Dartmouth College in 1973 and his MD from the UNC School of Medicine in 1977. After completing his residency at UNC and a Pediatric Nephrology Research Fellowship at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Falk joined the UNC School of Medicine faculty in 1984. He rose through the ranks to professor in 1999 and currently serves at the Allan Brewster Distinguished Professor of Medicine. He holds many leadership roles, serving as chief of the Division of Nephrology and Hypertension, founding director of the UNC Kidney Center and director of the Center for Transplant Care.
Throughout this time, Dr. Falk has maintained a great commitment to teaching at many levels, from the undergraduates who work in his research lab to medical students, residents, nephrology fellows and others.
Will Pendergraft, MD ‘08, PhD, assistant professor of medicine at UNC, first met Dr. Falk as an undergraduate at UNC, where he cleaned dishes in Dr. Falk’s lab as part of a work-study assignment. In the nearly 20 years since, Dr. Pendergraft has received both a PhD and MD and recently returned to UNC as a faculty member at the UNC Kidney Center.
“Without Dr. Falk’s constant commitment to teaching, mentorship and astute awareness of and attention to family, and personal and professional guidance, none of this would have been possible for me,” Dr. Pendergraft wrote.
Dr. Falk is also a national leader in his field of nephrology. Along with Charles Jennette, MD’73, Dr. Falk established the Glomerular Disease Collaborative Network, which has greatly enhanced communication and research collaborations between community nephrology offices and the UNC School of Medicine. To date, approximately 1,000 physicians from more than 400 clinics throughout the state and region have participated.
Dr. Falk has given numerous presentations throughout the world and held leadership positions in national and international organizations. He was elected president of the Council of the American Society of Nephrology in 2011.
His work also has focused on outreach efforts to improve the prevention and care for kidney disease among the people of North Carolina. He established the UNC Kidney Education and Outreach Program with the purpose of screening for kidney disease and hypertension across the state and educating the public about these conditions. Today, in addition to providing educational materials and lab testing in mobile units, the program encourages everyone to ask “Hey Doc, how are my kidneys®,” during each trip to the doctor. This slogan has appeared across television advertising campaigns and billboards around the state.
As one colleague wrote, “Ron Falk is not only one of our most distinguished faculty members, but also one of the most distinguished alumni of the UNC School of Medicine.”
We are proud to present this year’s Distinguished Faculty Award to Dr. Ronald J. Falk.