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ISN Granting Programs Adapting and Innovating Throughout 2020

Despite COVID-19 restrictions, ISN granting programs continued to thrive by adapting to different ways of collaborating, and launching new initiatives.


In January, ISN announced its first Detlef Schlöndorff Fellow, set up in honor of the late, influential nephrologist and former Editor of Kidney International. Dr. Etienne Ntabanganyimana, from the Gihundwe Hospital in Rwanda, was selected by the ISN Fellowship Committee to receive supported training in Interventional Nephrology.

In February, eleven new ISN Fellows were announced. The first ISN Reverse Fellow, Dr. Martyn Fredlund from the UK, completed his 12-month placement at Mseleni Hospital, South Africa, under the supervision of Dr. Brett Cullis. Dr. Fredlund implemented a teaching program and identified which teaching techniques were most effective in changing practice and managing AKI in the region.

Twenty-four ISN Fellows finished their training and returned to their home country in 2020 to apply their newly acquired skills, improve the standards of care at a local level, and take the lead in their fields. In the same month, The ISN launched a new Fellowship in honor of Dr. Ravindra Mehta, the ISN-Ravi Mehta AKI Fellowship. The fund was set up to honor Dr. Mehta’s contribution to global health and education and will support one ISN Fellow per year from a low-resource country to train in Acute Kidney Injury.

In June, Insight reported on the experiences of ISN Fellows from around the world who took up their Fellowships in 2019. Reports from these Fellows highlighted the capacity building for and impact on kidney care made possible through the ISN Fellowship Program.

The ISN received an encouraging report in September from Dr. Amar Swali, from Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania, an ISN Fellow who has been receiving training at the Muljibhai Patel Urological Hospital in Nadiad, Gujarat, India, since mid-October 2019. Dr. Swali’s account demonstrated the granting program’s success despite the restrictions in place due to COVID-19.

Sister Renal Centers

Sister Renal Centers (SRC) and Sister Transplant Centers (ISN-TTS STC) partnerships continued to collaborate within the programs in 2020 through interactive webinars in place of the usual visits, adapting the program to reflect current concerns. Recordings of these sessions are available for ISN members on the ISN Academy.

In February, thirteen New Sister Center Programs Partnerships in 2020 were announced. The ISN Sister Centers Program Committees approved the new pairs to start a collaborative process, increasing the total number of centers that are currently active within the program to 63.

In March, the ISN announced the SRC Tanzania-Canada partnership between the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) in Tanzania and the Queen’s University in Canada as the deserving recipients of the ISN Schrier Award 2020. The KCMC/Queen’s University pair made use of additional ISN Programs to build a strong and durable partnership, achieving successful and sustainable outcomes.

As part of the ISN-TTS Sister Transplant Centers and the Continuing Medical Education (CME) Programs, the ISN supported the 1st Primer on Pediatric Renal Transplant and Immunology Workshop alongside the International Society of Pediatric Nephrology (IPNA) held at the Christian Medical College and Hospital (CMCH) in Vellore, India in March. A total of 120 delegates attended the three-day course.

In November, a paper on kidney failure in Samoa was published by an ISN SRC emerging center doctor. Dr. Malama Tafuna’i from the National Kidney Foundation of Samoa (NKFS), partnered with Middlemore Hospital in Auckland through the ISN Sister Renal Centers Program, reported on the prevalence and incidence of kidney failure in Samoa in terms of dialysis patients. The paper, “Kidney Failure in Samoa” was subsequently published in The Lancet.

Also in November, ISN provided technical support to Nephkids 2020 at their conference ‘Case-Based Solutions for Electrolyte Disorders,’ held virtually as part of activities developed through the Sister Renal Centers (SRC) Program between Mehta Multispeciality Hospital and the Home, Independent Dialysis and Transition Services at Metro North Hospital and Health Services in Brisbane, Australia. The recordings are available on the ISN Academy.

Continuing Medical Education and Educational Ambassador Programs

Despite changing circumstances, the ISN remains committed to advancing kidney care worldwide through education, training, and advocacy. With this in mind, the ISN announced the online adaptation of its Continuing Medical Education (CME) and ISN Educational Ambassadors Programs in October. The Caribbean Institute of Nephrology held its 12th Annual International Conference on Nephrology & Hypertension in Kingston, Jamaica, in January 2020, under the theme “Targeting Together Caribbean Kidney Issues.” Through the ISN Continuing Medical Education (CME) Program, the ISN supported two speakers at the event, which aimed to enhance collaboration between Caribbean states to improve kidney care in the region. Through the same program, the ISN was pleased to support two speakers at the 32nd Scientific Conference and General Meeting, held by the Nigerian Association of Nephrology in February 2020, in Ibadan, Nigeria. The conference was an opportunity to present the ISN Pioneer Award for the Africa region to Prof. Oladipo Olujimi Akinkugbe, Emeritus Professor of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Nigeria, in recognition of his outstanding achievements in the field of nephrology. Prof. Akinkugbe, who sadly passed away on June 15, 2020, was a widely published pioneer of nephrology in Africa, responsible for training current leaders in Nigeria. An exciting event took place in March: kidney biopsy was re-introduced at Mpilo Hospital in Zimbabwe during an ISN Educational Ambassador visit. Nitin Kolhe, consultant nephrologist at the University of Derby and Burton (UHDB) NHS Foundation Trust in the United Kingdom, spent a week at Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe before COVID-19 restrictions were in place. Dr. Kajawo, a clinical nephrologist at Mpilo Hospital, performed two kidney biopsies under the guidance of Dr. Kolhe using real-time ultrasound guidance.

New Initiatives In February, the ISN announced an exciting addition to its initiatives: the Emerging Leaders Program (ELP). The program was developed to build a global talent pool of future leaders to shape the direction of kidney health, providing participants worldwide with the opportunity to work closely with international experts to develop leadership and management skills. In November, the ISN was delighted to welcome its first Emerging Leaders Cohort. The Steering Committee selected 14 successful candidates from 12 countries from among many worthy applications. Over 15 months, the cohort will take part in various joint training activities. The ISN looks forward to working with these talented future leaders from all over the world to shape the kidney health agenda worldwide.

Another exciting ISN initiative was launched in September when the ISN called for applications from health care centers to become recognized as ISN Interventional Nephrology Training Centers. The aim is for these designated centers to become ISN beacons within their region. The ISN supports trainees from low- and low middle-income countries with grants to contribute toward their travel, accommodation, and living coss during training at the centers.


In March, the ISN and the Indian Society of Nephrology agreed to extend and formalize their existing partnership to include collaboration on all ISN programs and activities, demonstrating their mutual commitment to advancing nephrology in the South Asia region and globally.

In April, the ISN and the Asian Pacific Society of Nephrology celebrated ten years of collaboration. Since 2010, 5 Clinical Research projects, 13 CME meetings, 17 Fellows, and 9 SRC pairs have been co-sponsored by the ISN and the APSN. In May, the ISN and the International Pediatric Nephrology Association (IPNA) extended their partnership to collaborate on several ISN programs and activities, demonstrating a mutual commitment to the global advancement of pediatric nephrology.

And More! In February, as part of the Saving Young Lives (SYL) project, 17 doctor-nurse pairs from eight countries across Africa received a week-long training in Acute Peritoneal Dialysis during the SYL Renal Skills Course at Red Cross Children’s Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa. Thirty-four doctors and nurses in attendance left the course with increased capacity to provide acute PD services in adults and children with AKI in hospitals where access to treatment was not previously available.

In August, Insight reported on research projects completed by investigators supported through the ISN Clinical Research Program (CRP). The ISN began accepting applications for the year-long ISN-ANIO Clinical Nephropathology Certificate Basic Program includes over 40 recorded online lectures and 12 live monthly webinars covering the main principles and practices of Nephropathology.

Supported by the ISN, the 2020 Renal Pathology Travel Bursaries recipients attended the virtual International Renal Pathology Conference held in November.

As of December, the ISN Kidney Care Network Project has enrolled over 4000 patients across four countries (Bolivia, Brazil, Nepal, and South Africa) to assess whether education and training of local healthcare workers in could lead to sustainable, locally-led improvement in AKI detection and management in low- and low middle-income countries. The resulting assessment will be used to advocate for long-term changes with local governments and institutions.

In December, the ISN launched a call for applications from health care centers to become recognized as an ISN Regional Training Center. ISN Regional Training Centers provide nephrology training to local doctors and health professionals in low, lower-middle, or upper-middle-income countries through ISN Programs.

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