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Andrzej Krolewski, M.D., Ph.D. Receives the 2014 Kelly West Award in Epidemiology from the ADA

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Andrzej Krolewski, M.D., Ph.D., Head of the Section on Genetics and Epidemiology at Joslin Diabetes Center and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, will receive the 2014 Kelly West Award in Epidemiology at the American Diabetes Association’s 74th annual Scientific Sessions.  Dr. Krolewski will also deliver the lecture, “Time to Retire ‘Microalbuminuria’: Early, Progressive Renal Decline is the New Paradigm.”

Dr. Kelly West, who is known as the “father of diabetes epidemiology," arranged for Dr. Krolewski to come to Joslin in 1980 to develop epidemiological research, which examines the frequency and causes of why certain diseases occur in different groups of people. Dr. Krolewski explores why diabetic kidney disease is prevalent among people with type 1 diabetes and how to prevent or minimize the complications from diabetic nephropathy.

“Above all, I am very pleased that I was selected to give the Kelly West lecture,” said Dr. Krolewski. “This lecture will give me the opportunity to discuss important discoveries that we made in regard to diabetic kidney disease. Joslin is one of the best places to conduct this type of epidemiological research."

The Kelly West Award recognizes Dr. Krolewski’s triumphs in diabetes epidemiology and it is one of the Association’s highest scientific awards, which is given annually to an individual who has made significant contributions to the field.

“For the past 30 years, Dr. Krolewski has been the driving force behind the efforts to use epidemiology to understand the causes of diabetic nephropathy,” commented Alessandro Doria, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., Investigator in the Section on Genetics and Epidemiology and Director of the Genetics Core at Joslin. “He is never afraid to challenge prevailing beliefs and he has shaped the way in which we currently think of this diabetic complication.”

In June of 2010, Dr. Krolewski published a study in Diabetes Care. This study demonstrated that serum uric acid was a significant independent predictor of early glomerular filtration rate (GFR) loss, a test used to check how well the kidneys are working, in patients with type 1 diabetes without proteinuria, or protein in a patient’s urine. This study also showed that the decline in GFR can occur while renal function is still normal, meaning there may be an opportunity for effective intervention before there is serious loss of renal function.

This research helped to form the basis for Dr. Doria’s diabetic kidney study, which evaluates the possible benefits of allopurinol, an FDA approved uric acid lowering drug, in reducing kidney function loss among people with type 1 diabetes. This study received a $24.3 million grant from the NIH.

This is not the first time that Dr. Krolewski’s research has altered the way people view and treat diabetic kidney disease. In 2003, Dr. Krolewski published a seminal report in the New England Journal of Medicine that challenged the widely held belief that microalbuminuria, or high levels of a certain protein in the urine, is the first step on the path to end stage renal disease (ESRD). Subsequently, he discovered that ESRD begins with early, progressive renal decline, a process independent of microalbuminuria that starts when patients have normal renal function. Recently, Dr. Krolewski unearthed that high serum concentrations of TNF receptor 1 and 2 are strong predictors of ESRD.

Currently, Dr. Krolewski serves as head of the Section of Genetics and Epidemiology where he uses epidemiology in conjunction with techniques that rapidly screen genes, blood, and other biological samples to advance the understanding of diabetic nephropathy.

Dr. Krolewski also established an educational program at Harvard School of Public Health and has trained more than 40 research fellows at Joslin in genetic and epidemiologic approaches to the etiology of diabetes and its complications.

“Throughout his entire career, Dr. Krolewski has been the tireless mentor of a new breed of clinical investigators, one that is able to wed the powerful methods of genetics to sound epidemiological study designs to understand the causes of diabetes and its complications,” said Dr. Doria.  “The Kelly West Award recognizes this unique contribution of Dr. Krolewski to diabetes research.”

Along with Dr. Krolewski, Edward Horton, M.D., Senior Investigator at Joslin Diabetes Center and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and  Katie Weinger, Ed.D., R.N., Ph.D., Investigator in the Section of Clinical, Behavioral and Outcomes Research at Joslin and an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, will receive the 2014 Albert Renold Award and the 2014 Outstanding Educator in Diabetes respectively, at the 74th Scientific Sessions.

Page last updated: September 30, 2014