UW News

September 26, 2007

NW Kidney Centers, Kirin-Amgen to establish endowed UW professorship in kidney research honoring kidney physician – the late Dr. Joseph W. Eschbach

UW Health Sciences/UW Medicine

The not-for-profit Northwest Kidney Centers (NKC) based in Seattle, WA, and California biotechnology joint venture Kirin-Amgen have announced an honorary gift to the University of Washington (UW) Division of Nephrology to establish the Joseph W. Eschbach Endowed Chair in Kidney Research.

This tribute is made in recognition of Dr. Eschbach’s enduring contributions to the well-being of people living with kidney disease. The late Dr. Eschbach, who died on September 7, 2007 of lung cancer, was a nephrologist, a clinical leader and researcher. Through his exemplary clinical care, home dialysis program leadership, scholarly activity, groundbreaking research in anemia management, and leadership of the Northwest Kidney Centers, Dr. Eschbach changed the face of kidney care in this region, nationally and worldwide.

“This is the greatest honor of my career,” said Dr. Eschbach last month upon learning of the endowed $1.5 million chair in his name. “I am particularly pleased that NKC and the UW have put emphasis on kidney research since the future well-being of our patients depends on research applied to their needs.”

Eschbach, who was senior research advisor at Northwest Kidney Centers and clinical professor emeritus of medicine at the University of Washington, spent his 45-year career at the Northwest Kidney Centers, the University of Washington and Minor and James Clinic. In the 1970s, Eschbach and former UW faculty member Dr. John Adamson sought to understand the physiology of treatment of severe anemia in advanced kidney disease. They showed that in an animal model of dialysis-dependent kidney disease, replacement of erythropoietin would stimulate red blood cell production.

In the mid-1980s, Eschbach led successful clinical trials to treat anemia in kidney dialysis patients. This research played a pivotal role in Amgen’s development of the drug EPOGEN. Eschbach treated patients with EPOGEN at Northwest Kidney Centers in the world’s first clinical trials of the drug.

“Through his exemplary clinical care, groundbreaking research in anemia management, and leadership of the Northwest Kidney Centers as trustee and senior research advisor, Dr. Eschbach changed the face of kidney care, ” said Joyce F. Jackson, President and CEO of Northwest Kidney Centers.

“In establishing this endowed chair, we share the desire to recognize Dr. Eschbach and the contributions he made to benefit patients with kidney disease, and are proud to participate in honoring Dr. Eschbach in this way,” said Dominique Monnet, President of Kirin-Amgen Inc.

Eschbach was the recipient of the David Hume Memorial Award of the National Kidney Foundation and The International Society of Nephrology Amgen International Prize. He was an elected member of the Institute of Medicine and an emeritus board member of the Northwest Kidney Centers.

“This endowed chair recognizes Dr. Eschbach’s groundbreaking research in anemia, his work to improve kidney dialysis, and his remarkable advancements in the field of nephrology,” said Dr. Paul Ramsey, CEO, UW Medicine, Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the School of Medicine. “We are extremely grateful to the Northwest Kidney Centers and Kirin-Amgen for their generous gift to establish this endowed chair in kidney research, which will help UW Medicine recruit and retain exemplary faculty in this field. There is an enormous need for clinical research to improve the care of people with kidney disease — which is common, harmful, but treatable. Research is the key to success,” Ramsey said.