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Dr. Foster’s Story

I’ve committed my career to helping young people facing kidney failure.
There is one unfortunate truth that motivates my work as a kidney researcher… children diagnosed with kidney disease usually deal with its effects for the rest of their lives.

I really believe this is something we can change, which is why I’ve committed my career to helping young people facing kidney failure. Together with my hard-working colleagues, we’re taking the time to uncover better ways for patients to achieve optimal health throughout their lives.

When it comes to managing kidney disease, I’ve never been satisfied with hearing “this is just the way we do it”. The families of young kidney patients depend on research studies that will lead to better treatments, an improved quality of life, and a longer lifespan.

I was fortunate to receive a Kidney Research Scientist Core Education and National Training (KRESCENT) New Investigator Award, funded in part by The Kidney Foundation. This award paid part of my salary while I studied kidney disease for three years. I often say this was the single most important thing to happen in the development of my career! The KRESCENT program provided me with the opportunity to join a community of top kidney scientists and mentors from across the country.

I’d like to tell you a little bit about one of the exciting projects my research team and I have been working on … It’s called TAKE-IT, which stands for Teen Adherence in Kidney Transplant Effectiveness of Intervention Trial. Through this trial, my team and I tested a program of individualized coaching combined with using an electronic pillbox to see if we could help teens and young adults remember to take their medications on time, every time, after a transplant.

You see, teenagers and young adults who’ve received a new kidney have a higher chance of their body rejecting their new organ than any other age group. One important reason for this is that they often don’t take their antirejection drugs consistently.         

What we found in the TAKE-IT study was that using an electronic pillbox combined with regular coaching, improves adherence to anti-rejection medication in young people by as much as 60%. The electronic pillbox notifies a secure website every time the lid is opened to take out the pills and can send text message reminders when a dose is due.

Part two of this study—TAKE-IT TOO—is well underway, with the goal of designing a smaller, more portable electronic pillbox and linking it to a mobile app and website to connect young patients with their transplant nurses and doctors and support their efforts to take their medications consistently. Our goal is to remove all barriers that teenagers have to taking their medication, so their new kidneys stay healthy.