March is Kidney Awareness Month–the time to highlight a disease that affects more than 30 million Americans. It’s important to know the risk factors of chronic kidney disease, like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and family history of kidney disease, among others. Kidney disease can also be caused by glomerular diseases, autoimmune disease, or can be a genetic disease. Kidney disease usually has no early symptoms. Therefore, it’s important to be tested. While there is often no cure, it can be treated, and many cases of kidney disease are preventable.

Our Division of Nephrology and Hypertension and the UNC Kidney Center at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill are working together to reduce the incidence and burden of kidney disease, focusing on enhancing and integrating first-in-class research, providing outstanding patient care, and training the next generation of leading kidney specialists. Nationally recognized nephrology experts maintain and continuously expand a robust clinical, translational and basic research portfolio that encompasses acute, chronic and autoimmune diseases of the kidney. Patients receive world-class care that incorporates the latest medical findings while being treated in a compassionate, patient-centered environment.

Integrating first-in-class research


Dialysis Research Video

A recent dialysis research study shows many aspects of research can be improved to encourage broader patient participation and better align research and clinical processes in clinics. A product of the study is a new video tool that features actual participants in animation.

Research can create better futures for people on dialysis, those who care for them in clinics and those who care for them at home. A new study led by UNC Kidney Center’s Dr. Jennifer Flythe, recently published in the American Journal of Kidney Diseases, shows many aspects of research can be improved to encourage broader patient participation and better align research and clinical processes in dialysis clinics. Focus group participants agreed, more education about the research process is needed, and why it’s important, for both patients and dialysis clinic personnel.

A product of the study is a new video tool Flythe hopes will generate awareness by sparking new conversations about dialysis research in the clinical setting.

Stories from our patients, helping each other and sharing advice

David Cole’s Story

David Cole shares his story in this podcast on how he went from a very healthy athlete, to a person diagnosed with kidney disease. And then, how his life changed after having a kidney transplant. Dr. Ron Falk interviews David about his experiences with kidney transplant, his life as an athlete, and promoting awareness of organ donation issues.

David founded and organizes the Raven Rock Ramble, a 100-mile bike ride which promotes awareness of organ donation issues, and benefits the UNC Kidney Center.

The 17th Raven Rock Ramble is on May 6, 2018.

Listen to the podcast and access transcripts on the UNC Kidney Center website.

Kidney Transplant Patient Story

As part of the Department of Medicine’s recent podcast series, “Understanding Organ Transplant,” Dr. Ron Falk welcomes Kevin Howell, who is a kidney transplant recipient. Kevin shares his story about getting sick and the challenges he had accepting reality. He talks about being on dialysis while working full-time, finding an unexpected kidney donor, and his recovery to health.

Topics include: A State of Denial * Juggling Dialysis & Career * Finding a Kidney Donor * Recovering and Returning to Health

Celeste Castillo Lee’s Work in Patient Engagement

Celeste Castillo Lee shared her work in patient engagement with the University of North Carolina in October and November of 2016; she gave a presentation at UNC Nephrology Grand Rounds as well as an interview with Dr. Ron Falk in an audio podcast.

Celeste shared her personal journey with end stage kidney disease, her path to engagement and advocacy in the kidney community, and her vision for a health care system strengthened by meaningful patient, provider, and staff partnerships. In December of 2016, she gave an interview with Lori Hartwell at RSNHope about choosing hospice.

These presentations can be accessed on the UNC Kidney Center website.

Training the next generation while helping patients live healthier lives

UNC Nephrology Training Programs

The UNC Kidney Center and the Division of Nephrology and Hypertension offer accredited training programs which include clinical fellowships and research programs. Their mission is

•To develop nephrologists who are the best in delivering the highest quality and value of care in all aspects of nephrology practice


•To develop nephrologists who contribute to the improved understanding of the mechanisms, biology, epidemiology, clinical management of kidney disease, and the quality of life of individuals with kidney disease


•To foster the development of skills that will ultimately lead to individuals who will serve as future leaders in clinical and academic nephrology.


A list of all current and former trainees can be found on the UNC Kidney Center website.


The newest feature of “Meet the Nephrology Trainees,” profiles first year pediatric fellow Dr. Kiri Bailey.

Kidney Transplant Podcast

Dr. Ron Falk welcomes two UNC transplant experts to discuss kidney transplant; they cover topics including benefits of an early transplant, living versus deceased donor organs, preparation and recovery from surgery, and more related topics.

Dr. Alex Toledo is an Associate Professor of Surgery in the Department of Surgery at UNC, and Dr. Karin True is an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Nephrology and Hypertension at UNC.

Listen to the podcast and access transcripts here.