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Cyclist raising funds for kidney disease visits KU Medical Center Kidney Institute

Glenn Frommer, who has polycystic kidney disease (PKD), is bicycling cross-country and met researchers, support staff and students at the Jared Grantham Kidney Institute at the University of Kansas Medical Center July 7.

Kidney institute personnel and students pose with Frommer and his bike
Students, staff and researchers affiliated with the Jared Grantham Kidney Institute at the University of Kansas Medical Center hosted Glenn Frommer (center, with bicycle) on his cross-country ride to raise funds for polycystic kidney disease. He also met with the mayor of Shawnee, Kansas, who declared July 8, 2022, as PKD Awareness Day in her city.

More than halfway through his summer journey of 5,300+ miles across the United States, bicyclist Glenn Frommer caught his breath in Kansas City, Kansas, and met some of the researchers at the University of Kansas Medical Center working to cure his kidney disease.

Frommer is biking from California to Massachusetts to raise money for polycystic kidney disease (PKD). While completing his route, he’s touring PKD research facilities and building awareness of the inherited disease.

The Jared Grantham Kidney Institute at KU Medical Center hosted Frommer on July 7. The cyclist talked about his goals for the ride, and then Kidney Institute scientists opened their labs and shared about their ongoing research.

“I was really impressed by the facilities, the number and quality of the outstanding researchers dedicated to better understanding PKD and the broad scope of research angles being pursued,” Frommer said.

What is PKD?

Frommer was diagnosed with PKD in 2015. The progressive disease causes cysts to form inside the kidneys, ultimately damaging them. Cysts also can form in other parts of the body, and common PKD complications include high blood pressure and kidney failure.

Stephen Parnell, Ph.D., associate director of outreach for the Kidney Institute, said Frommer’s visit to KU Medical Center was uplifting for numerous reasons. “First, Glenn is very friendly, optimistic and motivated to help both the PKD patient and the research community. Second, he is also a PKD patient, and it’s always helpful for students and research staff to meet people with the disease that we are studying in the laboratory. It helps them understand why we do what we do,” Parnell explained.

Depth of PKD research at KU Medical Center recognized

He also said the cyclist was impressed with the number of scientists dedicated to PKD research, including those in the Kansas PKD Research and Translation Core Center who are studying under a five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health.

“Glenn was amazed that there are many individuals at KU Medical Center who have spent decades working on PKD, and he quickly recognized the value of these people being able to teach future generations of PKD scientists,” Parnell said.

Frommer, in a later email, echoed that importance: “The significant experience and tenure of the leadership at the Kidney Institute has allowed the team and KU Medical Center to create a deep and impressive repository of techniques, understand the important history of PKD research and be able to quickly separate the techniques and ideas that have worked in the past versus those that haven’t to spawn the next few generations of PKD researchers both at KU and at other great research institutes around the country.”

Cyclist increases goal to create more research grants

Initially, Frommer wanted to raise $500,000 for the PKD Foundation to support scientific research “to find more treatments and hopefully a cure,” according to his website. But upon leaving Kansas City, he and his team decided to increase their goal to $640,000. They had already made it to more than $440,000 by July 7, Frommer said, and bumping their goal to $640,000 would be the equivalent of four PKD research grants, each sustained for two years.

“Because we have eight weeks and more than 2,000 miles of cycling yet to go, and because researchers all across the country – including the great team at KU Medical Center– have asked me to continue to raise more money to help them pursue promising research programs, we are announcing an increase…,” Frommer wrote via email. “We are excited to support the research programs for great and dedicated teams like the world-class team at the Kidney Institute at KU Medical Center.”

For more information

For information on Frommer, his fundraising ride, and how to donate, visit For advanced information on the Jared Grantham Kidney Institute, consult the KU Medical Center website.



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