Great care for little kidneys. Everywhere.
We interviewed Dr. Frederick (Rick) Kaskel about his commitment to IPNA
IPNA: Tell us about your history with IPNA.
Rick: IPNA was organized in 1977, became a non profit corporation in 1985 and the organization received “official” charitable status in 1986. The late Dr. Ira Greifer was my mentor at Albert Einstein in New York where I was a fellow. Ira and Dr. Henry Barnett along with Dr. Chet Edelmann organized IPNA. Dr. Richard Fine encouraged me to join IPNA in 1977 when I was on the faculty at the State University Hospital of New York at Stonybrook, As the president of the American Society of Pediatric Nephrology (ASPN) I attended multiple IPNA meetings around the world and later made a proposal to organize the 2010 Congress in New York. It has been a terrific educational and cultural experience having the opportunity to learn from colleagues around the world and to share my knowledge and experience in many developing countries.
IPNA: Why was it important for you to get involved?
Rick: Here in North America we have access to training, medicines, and state of the art equipment not available in many other parts of the world. IPNA provides the opportunity for me to learn about the needs in low resource areas and the pathway to share my training and experiences with physicans and nurses in parts of Africa and SE Asia.
IPNA: Why should a pediatric nephrologist join IPNA today?
Rick: Physicans have much more access to information today with the internet and other resources. When I was in school, my opportunity to learn was in class. Technology today allows most physicians around the world to participate in IPNA organized courses. In-person meetings are also very important. Connections are made; sharing of information and experiences is vital to advancing our field.
IPNA: How has IPNA changed / evolved over the years?
Rick: The most significant change has been the committment to support teaching and training in developing countries. Annual funding supports training in Asia, Africa and some Eastern European countries. Through IPNA and the Regional Societies, Fellows have received funding to attend the Congress and this experience helps them grow as they progress with their academic and clinical journey.
IPNA: Most know IPNA as the Congress organizer and Pediatric Nephrology Journal publisher. Yet for years IPNA has been funding fellowships, organizing teaching courses, collaborating with ISN in the Saving Young Lives, and other programs in under funded areas of the world. Do you have thoughts on what IPNA can do to increase interest and awareness for our programs?
Rick: Kidney disease in children does not get the publicity that cancer and heart disease receives, yet is a huge problem globally. IPNA is not funding fellows in North America so there is minimal recognition of this important program here in the states. Pediatric Nephrology leadership needs to emphasize the importance of IPNA with their trainees which will help to spread the word.
IPNA: IPNA is an Assocation which was organized as a non-profit charitable organization. Yet most members are are not aware of our commitment to philanthropy. What do you suggest be done to promote philanthropy to IPNA members and beyond?
Rick: First, kidney disease in children does not get a lot of attention. We need advocate for greater awareness and support globally. Less developed areas need our help which was so evident during COVID. In Ukraine kids needed access to dialysys. In some African countries where low birth weight is an issue children die of kidney issues who are not diagnosed and receive proper care care. Haiti kids needing daily dialisis are lucky to receive the therapy once a week. With teaching, training, and modern equipment kidney failure can be prevented and many deaths avoided.
The Haiti initiative is a good example of commitment putting to action. IPNA has collaborated with ASPN, the Latin American Association of Pediatric Nephrology (ALANEPE) and a wonderful nephrologist in Haiti to provide financial and in-kind support to treat children with kidney disease.
IPNA: In 2018-19 you established the first IPNA individual donor multi-year fund supporting teaching courses in SE Asia, and travel to the Congress for physicians from developing countries. You have continued your philanthropy with donations from your retirement account to IPNA. Why did you establish this fund?
Rick: I have dedicated my life to helping others and I have been lucky to have the resources to establish a Legacy Fund and have input on how the money is used subject to IPNA requirements and approval. I am grateful to IPNA for this opportunity and have actively participated in the process and the program.
IPNA: Is your interest in a particular program or country in need?
Rick: There are so many countries and areas in need of teaching and training. The congress offers a great opportunity for young docs to learn from experienced nephrologists. I have devoted some of my fund to support travel for young physicians to participate in the Congress. My other area of focus has been to support teaching courses. I started with Vietnam and unfortunately the first course was held virtually due to COVID. However, the technology worked fine and we were able to get many physiacnas engaged in the training.
IPNA: Please tell us your thoughts on In-Person teaching courses versus the Covid required virtual alternative.
Rick: The participatory webinars and virtual meetings have allowed IPNA to continue its training during these challenging times. Docs have participated who would not have been able to travel to an in-person session. So COVID had forced us to adapt using technology which is here to stay. However, personal interaction and coffee break discussions are vital to promote sharing and knowledge. So let’s expand the reach using technology but continue in-person opportunities where possible and safe.
IPNA: Do you recommend others consider the same fund structure?
Rick: Absolutely. I worked long hours for many years to be in a position to create this fund. For me there is no greater satisfaction then to be able to help others in need which I can do with teaching, sharing and with financial assistance. We need others to make a commitment and we will really be making more than a difference-we’ll be making a substantial impact.
IPNA: Do you recommend an annual contribution or collaborating with others to structure an endowment?
Rick: Whatever works best for the donor(s). Whether it be $500 or $50,000, all monies count. The IPNA leadership has done an outstanding job maintaining an efficent operation keeping administratve expenses minimal allowing for the majority of the funds raised to be used for effective and important programs.
Dr. Kaskel is an internationally acclaimed researcher and clinician in children’s kidney disease, and an expert in Glomerular Disease and consequences of chronic kidney disease in children.
Frederick Kaskel, MD, PhD
Chief Emeritus, Nephrology, Children’s Hospital at Montefiore
Professor of Pediatrics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Bronx, New York
For information on setting up a special fund contact firstname.lastname@example.org