The GREX Organizing 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.
Paul Bennett, RN PhD
University of South Australia
Satellite Healthcare San Jose, USA
Dr. Paul Bennett is an Associate Professor in the School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of South Australia, Adelaide, 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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Heitor S. Ribeiro, MSc
University of Brasília, Brazil
GREX Student Representative
Heitor Ribeiro holds a Bachelor of Physical Education, and a Master of Exercise Science from the Catholic University of Brasília (UCB), and is currently an Exercise Science PhD Student at the University of Brasília (UnB). He is also a Health and Exercise Science Lecturer and Researcher. His research interests include intradialytic exercise programs and the association between sarcopenia and CKD.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Kenneth Wilund, PhD
Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 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.