GREX Organizing Committee

A group photo of the different members of the Global Renal Exercise committee

The GREX Organizing Committee is comprised of a rotating slate of researchers from across the globe interested in fostering research & innovation across multiple disciplines to develop strategies to increase physical activity and improve health outcomes in Kidney Disease. Bios for the current committee are listed below.

Headshot of Paul Bennett

Paul Bennett, RN PhD

Griffith University, Brisbane Australia

Dr. Paul Bennett is the Deputy Head of School (Research) at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia and is Research Director in Medical Clinical Affairs at Satellite Healthcare in California, USA. Paul is a Board Director of the Renal Society of Australasia and a foundation member of the International Society of Nephrology Kidney Health Professionals Working Group. Paul’s research teams focus on strategies to improve the quality of life of people with chronic and end stage kidney disease using resistance and aerobic exercise, activation concepts, laughter therapy, home dialysis, e-learning, communication techniques, imagery, and workforce models.

Headshot of Clara Bohm

Clara Bohm, BSCH MD MPH

Associate Professor, University of Manitoba, Canada

Dr. Clara Bohm is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Nephrology at the University of Manitoba. She completed her Internal Medicine training at University of Saskatchewan and Nephrology training at Dalhousie University. She subsequently obtained a Masters of Public Health at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. Her research focuses on characterizing the effects of exercise and physical activity on functional status, quality of life and adverse outcomes in individuals with all stages of chronic kidney disease and translating these findings to design and implement sustainable evidence-based exercise programming to improve outcomes in this population. She is the Medical Lead of the Manitoba Renal Program Exercise and Wellness Program and currently holds the Manitoba Medical Service Foundation Dr. F. W. Du Val Clinical Research Professorship (2019-2022).

Headshot of Brandon Kistler

Brandon Kistler, PhD RD

Assistant Professor, Ball State University, United States of America
International Society of Renal Nutrition and Metabolism (ISRNM) Representative

Dr. Brandon Kistler is a Registered Dietitian, Assistant Professor of Nutrition and Dietetics, and Research Affiliate in the Fisher Institute of Health and Well-Being at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. He earned his PhD at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he was awarded a fellowship from the American Heart Association. His research is focused on utilizing lifestyle, primarily diet and exercise, to improve quality of life and outcomes for patients with CKD. Brandon also serves as the co-editor of The Renal Nutrition Forum, the chair-elect of the Dietitian’s Council for the International Society of Renal Nutrition and Metabolism, and on the editorial board of the Journal of Renal Nutrition.

Headshot of Jennifer Macrae

Jennifer Macrae, MSC MD FRCPC

Professor, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Canada

Dr. Jennifer MacRae is a Professor at the University of Calgary, Cumming School of Medicine with a cross appointment with the Department of Cardiac Sciences.

Her clinical and research interests revolve around improving the care of hemodialysis and she uses her administrative role of Medical Director for Hemodialysis for Alberta Kidney Care South to strive toward this goal.

Headshot of Stefan Mustata

Stefan Mustata, MD

Clinical Associate Professor, University of Calgary, Canada

Dr. Stefan Mustata came to Canada in 1991 as a convention refugee from Romania. He completed his training in internal medicine and nephrology at the University of Toronto and in 2004 joined the division of nephrology at the University of Calgary. As the medical director of the Kidney Exercise and Education Program, Stefan is committed to integrating research, education and clinical care through collaborative & multidisciplinary approaches.

Headshot of Heitor S. Ribeiro

Heitor S. Ribeiro, PhD

University of Brasília, Brazil

Heitor Ribeiro holds a BSc, MSc and PhD in Exercise Sciences from the University of Brasília, Brazil. His research interests include intradialytic exercise programs and the association between sarcopenia and CKD, especially in those undergoing hemodialysis. He is now a collaborating researcher at the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Brasília, Brazil, where he has done a post-doctoral internship. He is also a Health and Exercise Science Lecturer and Researcher at the University Center ICESP, Brasília.

Headshot of Giorgos K. Sakkas

Giorgos K. Sakkas, PhD

Associate Professor in Clinical Exercise Physiology, University of Thessaly, Greece
Professor in Lifestyle Medicine Cardiff Metropolitan University, United Kingdom

Dr Sakkas is an Associate Professor in Clinical Exercise Physiology at the Dept of PE and Sport Science at the University of Thessaly and Director of the “Exercise is Medicine Laboratory”. He also holds a Professor of Lifestyle Medicine chair at the Cardiff Metropolitan University in Wales, United Kingdom. His research focuses on the effect of therapeutic exercise on patients with chronic kidney diseases, especially in those with sleep disorders such as Restless Legs Syndrome. He uses a multidisciplinary approach to tackle his research questions including both physiological and psychological approach. Since 2020, he is the General Secretariat for the “Exercise is Medicine-Greece” association for promoting the benefits of exercise in various clinical populations.

Headshot of Stephanie Thompson

Stephanie Thompson, MD PhD

Assistant Professor, University of Alberta, Canada

Dr. Stephanie Thompson is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Nephrology at the University of Alberta. She completed her Nephrology training and her Doctoral degree in Public Health at the University of Alberta. Her research focuses on evaluating the effects of exercise on the vasculature in individuals with chronic kidney disease and better understanding the vascular response to exercise as well as the implementation and evaluation of exercise interventions. She is the Medical Lead of the Northern Alberta Renal Exercise and Program.

Headshot of João Viana

João Viana, PhD

University Institute of Maia, Portugal

João Viana is currently vice-director of the Research Center in Sports Sciences, Health Sciences and Human Development and the Director of CIDESD at the University Institute of Maia – ISMAI, where he was responsible for setting up the recently launched PhD course in Sports Sciences.

João completed his first degree in Sport Sciences and Physical Education at the University of Porto in 2004 and an MSc in Exercise Physiology (with distinction) at Loughborough University in 2006. Following this, he has obtained is PhD at Loughborough University in 2011, where he has investigated the effects of exercise on immune function and inflammation in chronic kidney disease patients in collaboration with the University Hospitals of Leicester and the University of Leicester. His work has received international recognition, produced high impact scientific publications and received awards from both sport and medical sciences communities. João has also worked as a post-doctoral Research Associate at the Leicester-Loughborough Diet, Lifestyle and Physical Activity Biomedical Research Unit.

His current research explores the role of exercise in chronic diseases (such as CKD, CVD and diabetes), particularly investigating the effects on immune function, inflammation, bone metabolism and skeletal muscle metabolism. Additionally, he is also interested in digital health and precision medicine applications to exercise physiology, aiming to develop new technologies for personalized exercise prescription and exercise training monitoring.

João also serves as board member of the Portuguese Association of Exercise Physiologists, the Portuguese Association of Kidney Disease Rehabilitation, and the International Science and Football Association, as well as member of the scientific committee of the National Program for the Promotion of Physical Activity and the Portuguese Gymnastics Federation.

Headshot of Tom Wilkinson

Tom Wilkinson, BSC PhD AFHEA

Research Associate, University of Leicester, United Kingdom

Dr. Tom Wilkinson graduated from the University of Birmingham (in 2012) with a degree in Sport and Exercise Sciences, before studying for a PhD (2012 to 2015) at Bangor University investigating the prevalence, causes, and treatment of ‘rheumatoid cachexia’ (muscle loss and obesity) in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. He joined the Leicester Kidney Lifestyle Team in 2015 where he oversees the day-to-day running of the groups various portfolio of studies and supervision of other team members and intercalating medical students.

Tom was awarded the 2017 Lockwood Award from the Renal Association. He is a member of the Renal Association, CLAHRC East Midlands Faculty, and British Renal Society Rehabilitation Network. Tom is also a member of the NIHR Leicester BRC, sitting on the ‘Respiratory & Lifestyle Working Group’, and a member of the UK Kidney Research Consortium ‘Exercise and Lifestyle’ clinical study steering group (supported by Kidney Research UK). He is an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and contributes teaching to MSc. modules at the University of Leicester and Loughborough University.

His research interests include clinical exercise physiology (chronic and hypokinetic conditions), body composition, physical functioning outcome development, and diet/nutrition.

Headshot of Kenneth Wilund

Kenneth Wilund, PhD

Professor and Director of the School of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Arizona, United States of America

Dr. Kenneth Wilund’s research is focused on examining the effects of exercise training and nutritional factors on cardiovascular health and muscle wasting in in patients with chronic kidney disease.

He is especially interested in developing novel strategies aimed at reducing both chronic fluid overload, a condition that contributes to heart failure, as well as muscle sodium accumulation, which may contribute to deficits in muscle strength and function.