William E. Mitch, III, MD, FASN
William E. Mitch, III, MD, FASN
Former ASN President and longtime supporter
Former ASN President William E. Mitch, III, MD, FASN is a long-time supporter of ASN and KidneyCure. He is committed to helping develop meaningful programs for the next generation of nephrologists and to improving the educational continuum for nephrologists in Latin America.
In recognition of his generous contributions, William E. Mitch, III, MD, FASN, and his wife Alexandra F. Mitch, were inducted into the foundation's Visionary Circle in 2018 as founding members.
In the following interview, Dr. Mitch shares more about his motivations and interests.
How did you first get involved with ASN and then KidneyCure (the ASN Foundation)?
As a medical student and medical resident, I was trained in internal medicine at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. This is relevant because training programs like the Brigham were directed at teaching trainees and academic faculties to increase the scope of their clinical and research activities. Specifically, we were stimulated to improve the identification and treatment of pathophysiologic mechanisms which contribute to increasing severity of different kidney diseases. Notably, the problems of patients with kidney failure (CKD) are currently highlighted because investigators have devised crude methods for measuring the severity of kidney diseases and new therapies are being developed to diagnose and treat the complications of CKD. For example, dialysis therapy was being improved to a level that is feasible to conclude that many functions of CKD could be safely replaced. There also was growing evidence that successful transplantation of kidneys could virtually completely replace damaged functions of patients with CKD. At the same time, insights into mechanisms regulating kidney functions were being discovered and these advances were being used to improve the dreaded consequences of CKD.
These advances in understanding mechanisms causing kidney damage and the treatments for patients with CKD encouraged me to join the efforts of scientists of the ASN. Specifically, I took advantage of the potential for learning more about the diagnosis and treatment of patients with CKD by joining the American Society of Nephrology (ASN). With their assistance, I have participated with ASN and use this information to improve the care of patients with CKD.
Your generous commitment to ASN in 2011 established the William E. Mitch, III, MD, FASN, International Scholars Trainee Support Program. The program aims to improve the training experience of nephrology fellows in Central and South America, as well as Spanish-speaking countries in North America, by providing free ASN membership for up to three years and the opportunity to receive travel support to attend ASN Kidney Week. What motivated you to make this gift?
My father loved to explore the evidence for advanced civilizations such as pyramids and buildings created by the Mayan civilization of Mexico. These adventures prompted my interest in examining whether there was evidence of the activity of advanced civilizations in other areas of Latin America.
During my training in internal medicine, I pursued this interest to learn more about the genesis and treatment of kidney diseases that were present in Latin American patients with kidney diseases but were rare in North American patients with CKD. To understand more about these differences, I volunteered to join a project directed by Professor A.M. Harvey of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Dr. Harvey had established an exchange program with a medical school in Lima, Peru and he arranged for me to spend several months as a medical resident at the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia Medical School in Lima. During that period, I learned about kidney diseases that were more specific for Latin American patients. I also took advantage of an opportunity to explore evidence of CKD in patients of the Amazon River or ancient cities of Peru.
To extend the scope of this program, I collaborated with the administration of the ASN and with Dr. Tomas Berl of the University of Colorado to devise an educational program that would provide information about medical problems that develop in patients with CKD. Specifically, we created a program that emphasized participation of ASN educational programs. The program was directed at providing support for trainees and faculty of clinical and research institutions of North America. The program emphasizes the provision of useful clinical and scientific information for physicians and trainees of both Central America and South America. These requirements include providing Trainees and junior faculty members with financial support to attend Kidney Week and provides for interactions among trainees and scientists.
I also learned that textbooks and medical journals were limited in hospitals and medical clinics supported by local medical care facilities. To respond positively to this problem, we worked with ASN and the International Society of Nephrology (ISN) to distribute textbooks and medical journals to medical schools and medical clinics in Latin America.
What are some other causes and organizations you support?
I participate in the activities of Societies that include the American Association of Kidney Patients and the International Society of Nephrology as well as the National Kidney Foundation.