UKRO to Honor Natalie Cole, Ben Lipps, and Carmen Puliafito at Benefit Dinner for Kidney Research

LOS ANGELES, CA (October 5, 2010) – University Kidney Research Organization (UKRO), a Los Angeles–based nonprofit organization supporting medical research related to the prevention, treatment, and eradication of all forms of kidney disease, will hold its annual dinner to fund kidney research on December 10, 2010, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. The organization will honor three outstanding individuals for their contributions to and support for efforts to raise awareness about the importance of research in fighting all forms of kidney disease.

“With 1 in 9 adults afflicted with some form of kidney disease, it is imperative that the nation make kidney research a major priority,” said UKRO president Kenneth Kleinberg. “We are delighted to be honoring Ms. Natalie Cole, Dr. Ben J. Lipps, and Dean Carmen A. Puliafito for their numerous extraordinary professional contributions and personal commitment toward making this happen.”

Natalie Cole, multi-platinum singer/songwriter and nine-time Grammy® Award-winner, will receive the Spirit of Life Award, presented by Dr. Phil McGraw, New York Times best-selling author and daytime television talk show host. Ms. Cole received a kidney transplant in May 2009 after 10 months on dialysis. She currently serves as a national spokesperson for UKRO.

Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Management Board of Fresenius Medical Care Ben J. Lipps, Ph.D., will receive the Outstanding Achievement in Business and Industry Award presented by Michael Lazarus, M.D., Senior Executive Vice President and Emeritus CMO for Fresenius. Under Dr. Lipps’s leadership, Fresenius has grown to be a world-wide industry leader in the production of medical supplies for renal dialysis.

And Carmen A. Puliafito, M.D., M.B.A., Dean of the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, will receive the Leadership Award for strengthening and fostering research at USC’s Keck School of Medicine. Vaughn A. Starnes, M.D., Distinguished Professor and Chair, Department of Surgery, at the Keck School, will present Dean Puliafito with his award.

Additionally, Anne Riquier-Brison, Ph.D., will receive the John McKay Fellowship in Renal Research at the University of Southern California. Past UKRO honoree and kidney donor ABC7 Eyewitness News Anchor Phillip Palmer will serve as Master of Ceremonies, with Grammy Award-winning singer Patti Austin supplying the evening’s entertainment.

Over 26 million people in the United States alone are believed to suffer from some type of kidney disease, and millions of others are at increased risk, according to the National Kidney Foundation. The Wall Street Journal’s Marketwatch reported in 2009 that Medicare costs for kidney disease are almost $72,000 per patient annually.

Despite these statistics, kidney disease research remains underfunded. Through project grants and other means, UKRO contributes to kidney research at various institutions throughout Southern California, and hopes to secure contributions sufficient to establish Los Angeles as a center for explorations to identify the causes, improve existing treatments, and—ultimately—find a cure for all forms of kidney disease.

For tickets, to lend your support, or for more information, please contact Mann Productions at 323-314-7000 or Mann.Productions@sbcglobal.net.

Past honorees include: Shaul G. Massry, M.D., Professor Emeritus of Medicine, Physiology and Biophysics at USC’s Keck School of Medicine; Tom Mone, CEO, OneLegacy; Kent J. Thiry, Chairman/CEO, DaVita; Rafael Mendez, M.D., Professor of Urology at USC’s Keck School of Medicine, cofounder of the Mendez National Institute of Transplantation, and cofounder of OneLegacy; Robert Mendez, M.D., Professor of Urology and Surgery at USC’s Keck School of Medicine, cofounder of the Mendez National Institute of Transplantation, and cofounder of OneLegacy; Benjamin H. Barbour, M.D., Clinical Professor of Medicine (Nephrology) at USC’s Keck School of Medicine; Vito M. Campese, M.D., Chief of the Division of Nephrology and the Hypertension Center at USC’s Keck School of Medicine; Richard Glassock, M.D., Emeritus Professor of Medicine at the Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California Los Angeles; and George Rathmann, Ph.D., pioneer in the field of biotechnology and cofounder of Amgen, Past Chairman/CEO and cofounder of ICOS3, and Chairman Emeritus, Nuvelo, Inc.

ABOUT UKRO

UKRO (University Kidney Research Organization) supports medical research related to the prevention, treatment, and eradication of kidney disease. UKRO was founded by entertainment lawyer Kenneth Kleinberg, who in 1999 was diagnosed with a kidney ailment that to this day has no known cause. Mr. Kleinberg suffered renal failure in 2001 and was a dialysis patient for the next six years until receiving a successful kidney transplant in 2007. In 2002, with assistance from a small group of committed individuals and with the help of Dr. Vito M. Campese, Professor and Chief of the Division of Nephrology and Hypertension at USC’s Keck School of Medicine, UKRO was established as a nonprofit organization to provide support for kidney disease research.

UKRO is a registered charity 501(c)(3), Federal Tax I.D. No. 03-0459723, formerly known as University Kidney Disease Research Associates.

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