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Friday, March 10, 2006

Westport Foundation Launches “World Kidney Day”

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A foundation started by a Westport family has launched “World Kidney Day” to call for additional research—and answers—to a chronic disease that affects more than 20 million people.

The Halpin Foundation (www.halpinfoundation.org), founded by the Halpin family in 1989 after their 14-year-old son was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, is pushing for additional investigations in the field of kidney disease research, especially research related to membranous nephropathy, frequently referred to as MN.

“Our goal is to increase the research related to kidney disease as well as autoimmune disease and, ultimately, find better treatments and a cure for this condition,” said Joan Halpin, founder.

The Halpin Foundation issues grants to support training, education, research and projects that demonstrate the effective delivery of health care services, not only in the United States but globally when special opportunities arise. Previous grantees include hospitals and independent researchers, educational facilities, professional associations and community groups.

While the foundation supports the broad spectrum of research in the field of kidney disease, it places special attention on efforts aimed at MN, a disease which causes the kidney to leak excessive protein into the urine and may affect the kidneys’ ability to remove wastes and excess water. After the Halpins’ youngest son was diagnosed with MN, the Halpin family quickly found that knowledge about the cause and potential cures for MN were limited.

“We have found few answers because membranous nephropathy is underfunded and understudied,” said Halpin. “Since the inception of the foundation, there has been limited success developing new treatment options. Drug development is challenging and, historically, we’ve seen excruciatingly slow progress and modest interest from researchers. We’re looking to change that.”

Beginning this year, “World Kidney Day” will be celebrated each year on the second Thursday in March in an effort to find answers that will lead to cures for often-debilitating conditions related to kidney malfunction.

“Membranous is not a glory disease,” said Halpin. “There are no ribbons, marathons, walks or vocal advocates, yet it remains debilitating and deadly. That’s why we must find a cure by encouraging young scientists to focus on MN and stimulate new research endeavors which will substantially advance the knowledge of this disorder.”

Posted 03/10 at 09:35 AM
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