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SDSU prof to study palliative care, end-stage renal disease

Brandon Varilek

Brandon Varilek, assistant professor in South Dakota State University’s College of Nursing, has received a grant to study palliative care use, kidney transplant rates and explore survival statistics among American Indians with end-stage renal disease caused by diabetes.

Varilek received National Institutes of Health subaward funding for $55,688 through the Center for American Indian and Alaska Native Diabetes Translation Research, Colorado School of Public Health, which is funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Hossein Moradi, assistant professor in SDSU’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics, is helping develop the statistical models for the grant. Mary Isaacson, associate professor in SDSU’s College of Nursing, is serving as senior mentor for the project.

In his project proposal, Varilek noted that American Indians and Alaska Natives are twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than non-Hispanic whites. Persons with diabetes are at greater risk of end-stage renal disease, and nearly two-thirds of all end-stage renal disease in AI/AN populations was caused by diabetes in 2013. Implementing palliative care can improve quality of life for those with end-stage renal disease. Additionally, kidney transplantation is a desirable option to treat the disease.

“Inclusion of palliative care for persons with end-stage renal disease can help balance patient goals of care with transplant requirements to promote transplant readiness,” Varilek said. “This study takes an innovative approach by correlating the Area Deprivation Index to the aims of the study to assess if social determinants are negatively impacting health outcomes.”

Varilek’s long-term goal is to develop palliative care intervention for those with end-stage renal disease in order to improve quality of life and to support treatment goals, such as receiving a kidney transplant.

“The knowledge gained from this grant is critical to developing innovative and sustainable solutions for South Dakotans with end-stage renal disease,” he said.