high-impact journal long before the grant has even
made it through peer review.
During my research training, we were fortunate
to have private donor money that we would target toward our most innovative projects. Have
you experienced anything similar given the overwhelming success of your program?
I am lucky to have been continuously NIH funded since
day one. I personally have three R01 grants that fund
my research and a mid-career mentoring grant, which
pays a good part of my salary to mentor junior faculty
and residents. Certainly philanthropy plays a big role in
seeding innovative projects or bridging gaps in funding, but that has not been a major source of funding
for me. We have also been fortunate to have funding from the National Kidney Foundation, American
Geriatrics Society, American Society of Nephrology,
Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and the American
Society of Transplant Surgeons. Sometimes society
grants help fund projects that may not be well-suited
for federal funding.
How has the JPIA helped you resolve these issues?
For me, this award came right at that tipping point,
exactly that point in my career where I had already
received some early career development awards, demonstrating that there was promise in the research we
were doing and the ideas that I had. However, I had
not received a big award yet and was at a point where
I was struggling to prove to my institution and my colleagues that the work I was doing had potential. As a
result of this award, I was able to convince my institution to keep supporting my time and effort to “shoot
for the stars.” I believe that it was a direct result of the
JPIA that I was able to do what I needed to do, publish
some JAMA/NEMJ papers early in my career, and get
the NIH funding that I currently have.
The paired donor exchange program was a mon-
umental breakthrough. What do you consider
your biggest accomplishment?
I think my greatest accomplishment has been building
the Epidemiology Research Group in Organ Transplantation, which I founded and currently direct. This is a
group of unbelievably talented surgeons, physicians,
epidemiologists, statisticians, mathematicians, and
computer scientists who have dedicated themselves
to helping us answer questions in organ transplantation. It has created an environment where we are
asking important, potentially high-impact questions
on a daily basis.
When I started on the faculty in 2006, this arrangement did not exist at Johns Hopkins or really anywhere
else [to my knowledge]. I wanted to not only be answering these questions myself, I wanted a team of people
where ideas were flowing freely, and we all held each
other to a very high standard of study design and
analytical robustness, poised to answer important questions as they came about.
Through this research group, we have been able
to pass legislation aimed at improving health care
research. We wrote and helped pass the Human
Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Organ Policy Equity
Act, which opens the door for HIV-positive kidneys
to be transplanted, and we wrote and helped pass
the Charlie W. Norwood Living Organ Donation
Act, which made national paired donor kidney
exchange possible. We demonstrated and quantified the comparative effectiveness of a protocol by
which incompatible patients can undergo transplantation through desensitization, supporting its
widespread use, coverage by insurance providers,
and acceptance by regulatory agencies. We have
also informed and studied various policies in organ
allocation in this country. We use what we know
from being actively involved in the field of organ
transplantation as care providers and surgeons to
identify the questions that seem most relevant to