Remembering Fred Atkinby Jay Bitkower on November 7, 2017
Fred Atkin, a charter member and Vice President of ACKC since 2002, passed away unexpectedly on October 30th. He was 79 years old. He is survived by his wife, Joyce, sons, Todd and Billy, sister, Joyce, and grandson, Alex.
As a leader in ACKC’s effort to obtain DoD funding for kidney cancer research, Fred traveled to Washington, D.C. each year to meet with Congressional legislators and staff and organized our yearly Lobbying Days each spring. These events included ACKC supporters gathering in the capital to lobby their representatives as well as advocates throughout the country sending letters to their legislators asking for Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) funding targeted directly to kidney cancer. Once ACKC was successful in having kidney cancer designated as a topic area as part of the Peer Reviewed Medical/Cancer Research Programs, commencing in 2006 and continuing through 2016, Fred served on the CDMRP Consumer Review Panel, which evaluated applications. Through those years, kidney cancer researchers received on average $1 million per year in grant money.
When Congress approved the $10 million Kidney Cancer Research Program (KCRP) starting this year, Fred was appointed to CDMRP’s select Programmatic Review Committee, which makes the final recommendation for approval of the funding of grants.
In addition to his work with kidney cancer, Fred, who was a dialysis patient, was a strong advocate for improving the conditions for people undergoing dialysis. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) provides the funding for the 650,000 Americans who are on dialysis each year. Fred advised CMS on improvements in care that should be taken in order to extend the lives of dialysis patients including, among other things, recommending adding a cardiologist to the dialysis team (50,000 dialysis patients die of cardiac events each year), calling for the proper regulation of the patient’s bicarbonate level to prevent cardiac incidents, recommending instituting a managed exercise program to prevent patient strokes and to improve patient well-being, and calling for the establishment of a training program to encourage patients to be proactive in their dialysis care.
Fred will be sorely missed by his family and friends and as an advocate for increased kidney cancer funding and improved dialysis treatment in this country.