A national task is recommending the immediate implementation of a new diagnostic equation for measuring kidney function, which advocates say will promote health equity and increase access to transplantation for Black patients.
The recommendation is supported by ongoing research from clinical researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine, who have played a critical role in quantifying the benefits and risks of abandoning race in kidney function estimation. The clinical change, which is anticipated to go into effect at Penn Medicine this year, was identified as a key priority for the health system’s Action for Cultural Transformation (ACT) strategic plan that launched in 2020.
“My hope is that this change will spearhead a movement across all of medicine for clinicians to reevaluate whether they are using race responsibly,” says Nwamaka Eneanya, a nephrologist, an assistant professor of medicine and epidemiology, and director of Health Equity, Anti-Racism, and Community Engagement in the Division of Renal-Electrolyte and Hypertension at Penn.
Eneanya has been a vocal advocate for the removal of race from the kidney function algorithm and is a member of the joint task force of the American Society of Nephrology and the National Kidney Foundation, which generated the recommendations. She is also a co-author on a paper published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), which introduces new equations for measuring kidney function that do not include race. A second NEJM paper—co-led by Harold Feldman, a professor of epidemiology and medicine—recommends that, as a more long-term solution, national efforts should be made to increase the widespread use of the protein cystatin C as a biomarker of kidney health.
Read more at Penn Medicine News.