ASN Calls on Congress to Increase Kidney Research Funding at NIDDK

Taking part in the 9th Annual Kidney Health Advocacy Day, advocates from the American Association of Kidney Patients (AAKP) and ASN are urging their congressional delegations to increase funding for kidney research at the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive, and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) to drive new breakthroughs for kidney patients and study the impact of COVID-19 on kidney health and people with kidney diseases.

More than 37 million Americans are living with kidney diseases, which for nearly 800,000 Americans have progressed to kidney failure, a life-threatening condition for which there is no cure. Kidney diseases are also costly to the American public. Medicare alone spends more than $130 billion annually managing kidney diseases, including $50 billion to manage kidney failure, yet less than 1% of this cost is directed to the research that will generate improvements in the quality and cost of kidney health therapies.

While programs such as KidneyX are essential to provide new products to patients and increase investment in kidney care, better understanding the long-term impact of health disparities and COVID-19 on kidney health and generating new discoveries to slow and prevent kidney failure is impossible without essential funding for basic and clinical research.

Prior congressional investment in kidney research at NIDDK is already leading to new cures and improvements in care for Americans living with kidney diseases. NIDDK is:

  • Paving the way for new precision medicine treatments through the groundbreaking Kidney Precision Medicine Project,
  • Addressing health disparities by recruiting diverse study participants, increasing the pipeline of next-generation researchers from underrepresented backgrounds, engaging patients in study design, recruitment, and consent, and conducting research to identify the underlying causes of health disparities,
  • Funding and conducting basic, clinical, and translational research of how to slow the progression of kidney diseases and prevent kidney failure.

Advocates are urging Congress to increase funding for NIDDK; its track record of success and the urgent need of Americans living with kidney diseases make this increased commitment essential.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted risks faced by people with kidney diseases. People with kidney diseases have been shown to have an increased risk of adverse outcomes from COVID-19 such as hospitalization (50%) and death (20-30%). COVID-19 has even been demonstrated to cause kidney damage in as many as 50% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients, including those without a prior history of kidney diseases.

Congress has not provided NIDDK dedicated emergency funding to study COVID-19, forcing research of the impact of COVID-19 on kidney health to come at the expense of existing research projects. In addition, the NIH has estimated that the negative impact of the pandemic on grant funding to be $16 billion.

Advocates from AAKP and ASN are calling on Congress to provide an increase to NIDDK to keep up with inflation, make up for lost grant funding due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and meaningfully increase investment in kidney health research. In addition, Congress should provide dedicated funding to NIDDK for the study of COVID-19 on kidney health and people with kidney diseases.