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SLU Nephrologist Honored by National Kidney Foundation

by Bridjes O'Neil on 04/15/2021

From national, state and local advocacy to research to patient care, SLUCare nephrologist Krista Lentine, M.D., Ph.D., has dedicated her career to helping kidney patients live longer, healthier lives.

Lentine, who is professor of medicine at SLU and medical director of living donation at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital, recently received the National Kidney Foundation's 2021 Excellence in Transplantation Award.

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Krista Lentine, M.D., Ph. D., is a professor of medicine, SLUCare nephrologist and is the medical director of living kidney donation at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital.

“I’m deeply honored to join esteemed past awarded colleagues and future recipients as we work together with the NKF and other organizations to make the gift of life possible for more patients in need,” Lentine said. “This shared mission honors the altruism of organ donors and the courage, hope, and appreciation of those who seek and receive transplants.”

The award was established to recognize scientists whose exceptional research has contributed new insights or improved access to kidney transplantation. Lentine was honored at the NKF's 2021 Spring Clinical Meetings April 6-10, which were held virtually.

Lentine is a professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, Mid-America Transplant/Jane A. Beckman endowed chair, and co-director of clinical research in the Center for Abdominal Transplantation. In 2018, Lentine received the NKF’s Dr. Shaul Massry Distinguished lecture award.

Lentine is passionate about expanding opportunities for safe living donation. She is a world-renowned researcher who co-chaired the international workgroup that developed guidelines for the evaluation and care of living donor kidney donors.

Kidney transplantation has evolved into the optimal treatment for patients with kidney failure. However, access to transplants is still limited by organ supply and opportunities for transplants are inequitably distributed. As a result, many patients in need die without ever receiving a transplant offer, she said. Living donors help bridge the gap between the urgent need for transplantation and the inadequate supply of deceased donor organs.   

Lentine said non-white racial and ethnic groups are challenged by higher kidney disease and the need for transplantation but face clear disparities in access to living donor transplantation. Contributing factors are likely multifactorial, she said.

"There are deficiencies in the education of kidney patients and the community about opportunities for living donation and transplantation, and financial barriers that may prevent donation in otherwise willing, healthy persons,” she said. 

Lentine has advocated for initiatives and policies to remove disincentives to donation, such as by serving on the National Living Donor Assistance Center (NLDAC) Advisory Group, and as a member of the ASN Policy and Advocacy Committee. She is dedicated to translating research into patient-centered policy.

She also testified with local NKF Executive Director Kathleen Davis and a patient advocate  at the Missouri State House and Senate in support of the Missouri Living Donor Protection Act – testimony that helped the bill become law in summer 2020.

“Our work seeks to expand the gift of life to more patients in need and to protect the health and well-being of the living persons who selflessly offer the gift of organ donation,” Lentine said. 

About SLUCare Physician Group

SLUCare Physician Group is the academic medical practice of Saint Louis University, with more than 500 health care providers and 1,200 staff members in hospitals and medical offices throughout the St. Louis region. SLUCare physicians are among the most highly trained in their fields - more than 50 specialties in all - and are national and international experts, renowned for research and innovations in medicine.

About Saint Louis University School of Medicine 

Established in 1836, Saint Louis University School of Medicine has the distinction of awarding the first medical degree west of the Mississippi River. The school educates physicians and biomedical scientists, conducts medical research, and provides health care on a local, national and international level. Research at the school seeks new cures and treatments in five key areas: cancer, liver disease, heart/lung disease, aging and brain disease, and infectious diseases.