Dr. Cigarroa to head state panel on kidney disease

Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D.

Renowned transplant surgeon and former UT System chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., has been appointed chairman of the Chronic Kidney Disease Task Force of the state of Texas.

Also, Kumar Sharma, M.D., chief of the Division of Nephrology and vice chair of research in the Department of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio, was named a member of the task force.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced the appointments.

House Bill 1225, approved by the Legislature in June and called the Glenda Dawson Act, re-established the task force to coordinate implementation of the state’s plan for prevention, early screening, diagnosis and management of chronic kidney disease (CKD). The task force also is charged with enhancing education of health care professionals about CKD.

Dr. Cigarroa occupies the Carlos and Malú Alvarez Distinguished University Chair in Pediatric Transplant Surgery at UT Health San Antonio and is director of the University Transplant Center offered in partnership with University Health System.

Dr. Cigarroa, whose specialties include pediatric transplants, coauthored an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in 2018 about disparities in live donor kidney transplantation among black and Hispanic patients. Lack of health insurance and underlying conditions such as diabetes, along with the risk of losing income from time spent away from the job, were listed as reasons for the disparity.

In a JAMA editorial published in 2019, Dr. Cigarroa and coauthors discussed the Advancing American Kidney Health Executive Order signed in July by President Donald Trump. They deemed it an important opportunity to enhance organ donation.

Dr. Cigarroa served as chancellor of The University of Texas System from 2009 to 2015 and as president of UT Health San Antonio from 2000 to 2009. President George W. Bush in 2004 appointed him to serve on the President’s Committee on the National Medal of Science.

Kumar Sharma, M.D.
Kumar Sharma, M.D.

Dr. Sharma is also director of the Center for Renal Precision Medicine at UT Health San Antonio. The goal of the center’s research is to facilitate the identification of targets for new therapeutics, which will reduce the progression of kidney diseases and the need for dialysis treatment and kidney transplants.

Dr. Sharma is vice chairman of the Texas Kidney Foundation and a member of the American Society of Nephrology and the International Society of Nephrology. He plays a leading role in the National Institutes of Health Kidney Precision Medicine Project. He recently identified pathways by which diabetes cause disease in kidney cells and patients. This breakthrough discovery and others are the reasons UT Health San Antonio is a national hub for analysis of special metabolic profiles of tissues.

Dr. Sharma occupies the David Hillis Distinguished Endowed Chair in Medicine.

Other UT Health San Antonio faculty members serve the state on blue-ribbon commissions. For example, Sudha Seshadri, M.D., professor of neurology and founding director of the Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases, is a member of the Texas Council on Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders. She was appointed in 2018 and is serving through 2020.

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