Dr. Akinlolu Ojo is the Executive Dean of the University of Kansas School of Medicine. Dr. Ojo received his medical education from the University of Lagos, Nigeria and residency training in internal medicine at the University of Kentucky. He completed a nephrology fellowship, PhD in Epidemiologic Science and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) at the University of Michigan. Dr. Ojo's research interests include clinical transplantation and chronic kidney disease with a particular focus on African Americans and developing countries. He has authored over 120 peer-reviewed publications and has served on the editorial boards of several journals and on NIH study sections.
Dr. Ojo maintains an active clinical and translational research program with a portfolio of both NIH and industry funding. He is member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation. Dr. Ojo maintains active research collaboration with investigators in Austria, Brazil, Ghana, Jamaica, Nigeria, South Africa, Spain and Taiwan. Dr. Ojo currently works with the Ministries of Health of several Caribbean countries to improve access to kidney disease care, including dialysis treatment and kidney transplantation. Dr. Ojo was previously the Associate Vice President for Clinical Research and Global Health Initiatives at the University of Arizona Health Sciences in the Office of the Senior Vice President for Health Sciences. Dr. Ojo came to that position from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he served as Professor of Medicine and the Inaugural Florence E. Bingham Research Professor in Nephrology. Dr. Ojo is an internationally recognized physician-scientist with expertise in chronic kidney disease kidney and kidney-pancreas transplantation and Global Health Research. He is the Program Director for the HRSA/DOT-funded National Living Donor Assistance Center (NLDAC), which provides reimbursement to financially needy live organ donors for non-medical expenses incurred in the process of donating an organ.
Dr. Merion is President of Arbor Research Collaborative For Health and Professor Emeritus of Surgery at the University of Michigan. He has more than 20 years’ experience as a transplant surgeon and has served as project director on a variety of important federally funded organ transplantation research projects. He is internationally renowned for his seminal research initiatives in both therapeutic and public policy aspects of transplantation. Dr. Merion is widely published in peer-reviewed publications. He is an Associate Editor for the American Journal of Transplantation, Chair of the Adult-to-Adult Living Donor Liver Transplantation Cohort Study Steering Committee, Clinical Transplant Director of the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR) and Secretary of the American Society of Transplant Surgeons.
Dr. Merion will serve as the NLDAC Program Deputy Director. In this capacity he will deputize for all the duties and responsibilities of the Program Director as necessary. Dr. Merion will serve as the lead research scientist responsible for directing the operations of the research/statistical analysis core. He will also serve as the key liaison between the National Living Donor Assistance Center and the SRTR in any collaborative effort that HRSA may direct the two projects to undertake.
Barry Hong is a Professor of Psychiatry and Internal Medicine at the Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO. Dr. Hong has a Master in Divinity Degree from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis and received his PhD in Psychology from St. Louis University. He is board certified in clinical psychology from the American Board of Professional Psychology. He serves as the Vice-Chairman for Clinical Affairs in the Department of Psychiatry and the Chief Psychologist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. He has had numerous appointments in the area of organ transplantation. He has served as a Psychological Consultant to Mid-America Transplant Services since 1992 and has been a member of the Advisory Council and is the present Chairman of the Missouri Kidney Program. In addition, he has worked with the liver and renal divisions at Washington University and has been an active member of the kidney and liver transplant services.
Dr. Hong is currently an Associate Editor for the Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings and has previously served as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology and PsycCRITIQUES. Both are journals of the American Psychological Association. He has authored 50 peer-reviewed publications and has received Honors from the American Psychopathological Association, Missouri Psychological Association and Divisions of Health Psychology and Clinical Psychology of the American Psychological Association.
Dr. Hong will provide content expertise to the development of data collection instruments. He will serve as the lead scientist for methodologic issues. He will lead the effort in refining research hypotheses to be tested. He will work closely with the staff in Research/Statistical Analysis Core to ensure integrity of the data collection and evaluation.
Dr. Mathur is an Assistant Professor of Surgery in the Division of Transplant Surgery at Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona. His clinical practice includes living donor and deceased donor transplant of the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. Dr. Mathur completed his his undergraduate and medical degrees at the University of Florida, and his internship, residency and transplant surgery fellowship in the the University of Michigan Health System. Dr. Mathur also completed a Master of Science in Health and Health Care Research through the University of Michigan School of Public Health in 2010. Dr. Mathur is board-certified in general surgery and has completed an ASTS multi-organ abdominal transplant fellowship. He was awarded research funding from the National Institute of Health and the Center for Integrative Approaches to Health Disparities in 2008 and 2012. Dr. Mathur has published over 30 peer-reviewed articles, books and book chapters. His academic interests span several areas of health services research in end organ failure, organ donation, and transplantation.
Dr. Mathur is the Program Evaluation Specialist for the National Living Donor Assistance Center. He is responsible for the development and reporting of program metrics under the direction of the Project Director and Deputy Director. Dr. Mathur is also responsible for identifying broader program implications on transplantation via dataset linkages with relevant demographic and transplant databases.
Kimberly A. Gifford is the NLDAC program manager. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from Park University and received a Master of Business Administration from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business in 2010. Ms. Gifford has been part of the ASTS staff since 2005.
During her tenure with ASTS, Ms. Gifford has been involved in numerous new initiatives that have contributed to ASTS’ overall growth including the development of the Academic Universe. She has demonstrated the ability to galvanize ASTS members, build collaborative relationships and engage other stakeholders to achieve results. She routinely partners with other organizations to achieve common goals. Ms. Gifford is experienced in analyzing operations and implementing systems and processes to maximize efficiencies.
Ms. Gifford will provide managerial leadership in overall administration of the project and will prepare financial reports as well as ensure quality controls.
Sidni Brown is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has been the NLDAC Senior Program Coordinator since March 2020. Ms. Brown has been part of the transplant community since 2015. She worked primarily as an abdominal pre-transplant social worker for Ascension St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana before joining the NLDAC. Prior to her work within the transplant community, Ms. Brown worked with patients suffering from bleeding disorders, sickle cell disease, and cancer. Ms. Brown received her undergraduate degree in event management from Indiana University Bloomington. She worked as an event and convention planner and manager for four years prior to obtaining her master’s degree in social work from Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis.
Ms. Brown is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the NLDAC and serves as the leader interfacing with transplant centers to ensure all eligible living donors know about the NLDAC program and have access to its funding. She also helps evaluate the impact of the program on living organ donation.
Holly Warren is a registered nurse and has been the NLDAC Program Coordinator since 2007. Ms. Warren has been part of the transplant community for nearly thirty years, and has held a variety of positions. She worked in hospital development at the organ procurement organization, Donor Network West, in Oakland, California. As a member of the heart transplant team at the University of Maryland, in Baltimore, she worked with patients on the heart transplant waiting list. Ms. Warren received her nursing degree from Fresno City College and her bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Management from Fresno Pacific University.
Ms. Warren is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the NLDAC and serves as the leader interfacing with transplant centers to ensure all eligible living donors know about the NLDAC program and have access to its funding. She also helps to evaluate the impact of the program on living organ donation.
Marie-Claire Walters joined NLDAC as the Program Assistant in August 2017. Ms. Walters graduated from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 2013 with a dual BA in Philosophy and Spanish. At Clark University, she was awarded the David Saltman Prize for excellence in philosophy. Ms. Walters was an English teacher in the Chilean public school system for two years prior to joining NLDAC. She is fluent in Spanish, Italian and Catalan.
Ms. Walters’ duties at NLDAC include: providing support to patients and transplant professionals in filing applications; administering funding to approved applicants; and educating patients, professionals and the public about NLDAC. She also writes NLDAC’s newsletter and oversees the website content.
Sofie Epshtein began working as the NLDAC Program Assistant in April 2018. She graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with a Bachelor of Science in Community Health with a specialization in health risk behavior. She completed a semester-long, full-time capstone internship at the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, MD as the K-12 Outreach Intern. Her responsibilities at the NLM included social media management, assisting with ongoing outreach projects, and participating in enrichment activities at the main NIH campus.
Ms. Epshtein’s duties at NLDAC include: assisting patients and transplant professionals in the application process, providing support for approved donors while they arrange travel to the transplant center, managing NLDAC’s social media accounts, and other duties to promote the NLDAC’s overall mission.
The Advisory Group was established to assist the National Living Donor Assistance Center in:
The Advisory Group meets annually, holds periodic conference calls, and is comprised of a kidney donor, liver donor, transplant surgeons, transplant physicians, transplant nurse coordinator, transplant social worker, health economist, social scientist, financial administrator and a HRSA representative. Below is a list of current Advisory Group members.
The Application Review Committee (ARC) members are responsible for reviewing applications received by NLDAC each week. All confidential patient information is blocked to the reviewer.
ARC members approve or deny applications on the basis of whether or not the applicants meet NLDAC program criteria and eligibility. If a waiver for financial hardship is requested, ARC members make a recommendation to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to approve or deny the application. HRSA makes the final decision on the request for a waiver and their determination is not subject to appeal.