Friday 26 May 2023 9:25am

Rob Walker - image
Professor Rob Walker urges people to recognise the seriousness of kidney disease.

Otago Professor Rob Walker's significant international contribution to understanding and managing kidney disease has been formally recognised by his peers.

Professor Walker, from the Department of Medicine, Dunedin School of Medicine, has been awarded the College Medal by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP), which represents and trains physicians across New Zealand and Australia.

Professor Walker says he is delighted to receive the award, which recognises a Fellow who makes a significant contribution to medical specialist practice, healthcare and/or health of community through physician activities. The prestigious prize is awarded annually, with this year's presentation to be held at Te Papa in Wellington in September.

In announcing the award in April, RACP President Dr Jacqueline Small said the College Medal recognised Professor Walker's leadership in the field of nephrology and the demonstrable improvements he has made to the lives of people affected by kidney disease.

“Rob has been involved in the work of the RACP for almost 30 years. This is an astounding contribution to our College community.”

Despite the efforts of people like Professor Walker, he says there is an ongoing lack of awareness in the community of just how serious chronic kidney disease is. In the next 10 years, kidney disease is predicted to be the fourth leading cause of death in the world.

“One in 10 New Zealanders has chronic kidney disease now, but less than half of them realise they have it.

“We need to be doing a lot more to identify those at risk, monitor and implement measures to either prevent or substantially slow the progression of kidney disease, rather than be at the bottom of the cliff when it's too late.”

His research interests are broad, from translational science exploring how the kidney is injured, to clinical research including acute kidney injury, dialysis outcomes, drug handling in chronic kidney disease and cardiovascular risk factors in chronic kidney disease.

Professor Walker has more than 280 peer-reviewed publications and is actively involved in both local and international nephrology societies. He has had very strong advocacy roles for increasing kidney disease awareness, especially in the Asia Pacific region and serves on the Asia Pacific Society of Nephrology Executive Committee.

He is also the Chair of the International Society of Nephrology (ISN) Clinical Research Committee, promoting and supporting research in developing countries, and is the deputy chair of the ISN Core Programmes Committee, which is responsible for overseeing programmes supporting nephrology in the developing countries.

This year he was awarded life membership of the Otago Medical Research Foundation.

-  Kōrero by Andrea Jones, Team Leader, Divisional Communications

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