Kidney Patients Recognize Robert W. Schrier, MD

Robert W. Schrier, MD, is the 2009 recipient of the American Association of Kidney Patients (AAKP) Medal of Excellence Award. Each year, AAKP “honors a renal physician who has achieved outstanding success in caring for kidney disease patients, while also possessing extraordinary skills and devotion in the field of nephrology.”

Dr. Schrier excels as a clinician, teacher, researcher, and administrator. “Dr. Schrier still sees patients in the renal clinic and the inpatient renal service, where he is a model of the devoted, caring physician, bringing to bear his extensive experience and broad-based knowledge to many patients with kidney diseases,” said Tomas Berl, MD, FASN, professor of medicine in the division of renal diseases and hypertension at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

During his career, Dr. Schrier has helped train more than 200 nephrology fellows, taught physicians in nearly 80 countries about nephrology and hypertension, and edited several textbooks and journals. Additionally, he has mentored many leaders in nephrology, internal medicine, and academic medicine.

“A consummate scholar, Dr. Schrier is the most inspiring of mentors, kind and supportive, but uncompromising in his pursuit of scientific truth,” said William L. Henrich, MD, FASN, interim president of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. “He is the best example I know of someone who moves easily from the bedside to the bench and back with great facility.”

Dr. Schrier earned his undergraduate degree from DePauw University (where he was also a star basketball player) and his MD from the Indiana University Medical School. He completed residency and fellowship training at the University of Washington School of Medicine and the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, respectively.

Published in more than 850 papers, Dr. Schrier’s research combines body fluid control mechanisms, renal function, and cardiovascular function. With his hypothesis on sodium and water regulation in health and disease, Dr. Schrier sparked a global interest in medical research in these areas. “Dr. Schrier’s broad and varied investigative efforts, which were always directed at understanding the mechanisms of human disease, had as their primary goal the improvement of patients’ lives,” Dr. Berl said.

Currently a professor of medicine at the University of Colorado’s School of Medicine, Dr. Schrier chaired the institution’s department of medicine for 26 years and headed the department’s division of renal diseases and hypertension for 20 years. Under his leadership, the department’s full-time faculty increased from approximately 75 to 500, while the department’s research budget grew to $500 million.

As further evidence of his global reputation among physicians and patients alike, Dr. Schrier is the only person to have served as President of the American Society of Nephrology (ASN), the International Society of Nephrology, and the National Kidney Foundation. In 1997, Dr. Schrier received the John P. Peters Award, which ASN bestows on “individuals who have made substantial research contributions to the discipline of nephrology and have sustained achievements in one or more domains of academic medicine, including clinical care, education and leadership.” To recognize his contribution further and establish a lasting presence during Renal Week, ASN in 2005 created the Robert W. Schrier, MD, Endowed Lectureship.

In 1969, a group of six patients established AAKP, a national organization that now reaches “one million people yearly affected by kidney disease, including patients, family members, renal professionals, and friends.” The association’s mission is “to improve the lives of fellow kidney patients and their families by helping them to deal with the physical, emotional, and social impact of kidney disease.”

ASN is sponsoring the AAKP Medal of Excellence Award, which will be presented to Dr. Schrier during a ceremony on Sunday, March 22, 2009.