Belding H. Scribner Award to Honor James E. Cimino

James E. Cimino


The 2009 Belding H. Scribner Award goes to James E. Cimino, MD, who in the 1960s engineered a breakthrough approach to accessing the veins of hemodialysis patients, before dedicating his career to palliative care. Established in 1995, the Belding H. Scribner Award is presented to one or more individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the care of patients with renal disorders or have substantially changed the clinical practice of nephrology.

Dr. Cimino is highly regarded for his role in finding an improved method of accessing the veins of dialysis patients. He led the team that developed the arteriovenous (AV) needle technique for vascular access in 1966—still a primary means for vascular access in chronic dialysis patients. The procedure creates a surgical connection between the artery and vein in the forearm that lasts longer than previously developed shunts, including the one developed by Dr. Scribner. The AV fistula is widely credited with prolonging the lives of patents with end stage renal disease and for simplifying their hemodialysis treatment.

Shortly after completing his medical residency and Air Force tour of duty, Dr. Cimino returned to the Bronx, where he was raised, to set up a practice. He worked first at the Bronx Veterans Administration Hospital. In 1960, he started a chronic dialysis program and established a nephrology residency. During the ’60s, he was responsible for assisting in the placement of artificial kidneys in six New York metropolitan area hospitals. He was one of the first board-certified nephrologists.

Subsequently, he moved on to Calvary Hospital for advanced cancer patients in the Bronx, where he has held numerous positions, including chief of medicine and medical director. In 1994, he became director of the Palliative Care Institute at Calvary, serving until he retired from that position. Palliative care was Dr. Cimino’s focus for many years. He not only cared for terminally ill cancer patients, but also lectured and wrote extensively on the subject, emphasizing nutrition, pain management, comfort care, and ethical issues.

Dr. Cimino has received numerous awards and honors, including the American Cancer Society’s Hope Award and the American College of Physicians’ Ralph Claypoole Sr. Memorial Award for Devotion of a Career in Internal Medicine to the Care of Patients. He also received two Laureate Awards from the American College of Physicians and is an Alpha Omega Alpha honorary faculty member.

In addition to his many years as a practicing physician, Dr. Cimino has taught medical students for more than five decades. He has been a clinical professor of medicine at New York Medical College since 1980. He is an honorary member of the American Dietetic Association for establishing and teaching a course in medical nutrition at New York University Graduate School for more than 20 years. Renal nutrition was an important part of the curriculum.

The American Society of Nephrology is pleased to present the Belding H. Scribner award to Dr. Cimino during Sunday’s plenary session, which begins at 8:30 a.m., directly following ASN’s Business Meeting.

Belding H. Scribner


Belding H. Scribner, MD, developed the arteriovenous shunt, which made possible long-term hemodialysis for chronic renal failure.

Dr. Scribner served as head of the University of Washington’s Division of Nephrology in the Department of Medicine from 1958 to 1982. He and his co-workers at the Seattle university made numerous contributions to helping patients with end stage renal disease, including establishing the world’s first out-of-hospital dialysis unit, developing a home hemodialysis program, improving techniques and equipment for hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis, and studying the adequacy and complications of chronic renal disease treated by dialysis. Dr. Scribner’s work made a significant contribution to transforming nephrology into a major subspecialty of internal medicine.