25 Winners Announced for the KidneyX Patient Innovator Challenge


The winners of the KidneyX Patient Innovator Challenge, funded by the National Kidney Foundation (NKF), were announced by Deputy Secretary of the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Eric Hargan, on Thursday March 26 during NKF’s live-virtual 2020 Spring Clinical Meeting.

The Patient Innovator Challenge selected 25 winners from over 120 submissions solicited from individuals, communities, businesses, institutions, and not-for-profit organizations. Winning ideas include solutions that support home dialysis; monitoring devices and apps for patients with kidney failure; educational materials and online platforms; help for people with transplants; and peer support groups.

Over a period of months, a panel of judges and reviewers evaluated the solutions and selected 10 solutions already in practice (Category 1) and 15 great ideas that have not been put to use yet (Category 2) as winners.

Category 1

  • Ann Chokas of Great Neck, NY, for designing a smartphone app to monitor blood test results;
  • Chris Jaynes of Cardiff-By-The-Sea, CA, for creating a way to extend the life of a kidney removed for transplantation to give surgeons more time to access the organ;
  • Deepa Kariyawasam of London, England, for creating kidney patient diet booklets geared toward minority cuisines;
  • Sarah Lee of Baltimore, MD, for creating a device that disinfects tubing for peritoneal dialysis;
  • David Kuraguntla of San Francisco, CA, for creating a device to monitor fluid levels in dialysis patients;
  • Robert Richter of Coconut Creek, FL, for creating a device to help a one-handed veteran administer home dialysis;
  • Chelsea Roman of Sacramento, CA, for creating a 3D-printable wrist cuff to secure needles used in home dialysis;
  • Lana Schmidt of Liberty, IL, for using a state-funded home aide program to hire someone to help her with home dialysis;
  • Deborah Stanzak of Twinsburg, OH, for creating clothing suited for people undergoing dialysis;
  • John Vito of Rochester, NY, for creating a video cooking series for end-stage kidney failure patients.

Category 2

  • Brian Bender of Raleigh, NC, for a home-use device in development to track sodium levels in urine;
  • Andrew Brookens of Denver, CO, for a proposal to open a home dialysis education center to train patients;
  • Chandra Chhun of McDonough, GA, for a proposal to develop an online platform to help home dialysis patients;
  • Anthony Clark of Wilmington, DE, to create kidney food labels for kidney patients;
  • Jaclyn Giannakoulis of Stoughton, MA, to develop a program to rent home dialysis cyclers for patients when they travel;
  • Nieltje Gedney of Kearneysville, WV, to develop a toolkit for home dialysis patients to give real-time feedback;
  • Varun Goyal of Carmel, IN, to develop an app to help transplant patients keep track of their medicines;
  • Lonnie Green of Kennesaw, GA, to develop a peer mentorship program for dialysis patients;
  • Mary Lou Hurley of Bloomingdale, NJ, to create a handout about transplants for patients to give to emergency room professionals;
  • Daniel Marsh of Baton Rouge, LA, to develop an “open chair” app to help patients find a real-time dialysis center that has an immediate opening;
  • Sandeep Padala of Augusta, GA, to develop resources for dialysis patients who are released from prison;
  • Emmett Smith of Seattle, WA, to develop a device to help with dialysis catheters;
  • Ben Studdard of Nashville, TN, to create music videos to teach patients about medical terms;
  • Cher Thomas of Galveston, TX, to develop a program to link dentists with patients on the transplant waitlist;
  • Joyce Vergili of Kingston, NY, to create a device to monitor blood potassium levels.

Submissions were open August 1, 2019, through September 16, 2019, and patients and care partners, among others, were encouraged to apply to share their best ideas and innovations. The 10 winners in Category 1 will receive $4,000 each, and the 15 winners in Category 2 will receive $2,000.  Learn more about the winning submissions and KidneyX at www.kidneyx.org .