Amy D. Waterman, PhD, is a Social Psychologist and Associate Professor in Residence in the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Division of Nephrology. Dr. Waterman is driven by three beliefs. First, transplant-eligible kidney patients deserve to make informed choices about their treatment options, especially deceased and living donor transplantation. Second, there are many generous people who might become deceased and living kidney donors, but they need to learn what donation involves. Third, if we all work together – kidney patients, their families and communities, and kidney healthcare professionals – our collaborative efforts can reduce the national kidney donor shortage and increase the number of people living longer with the benefit of kidney transplants.
Her Transplant Research and Education Center (TREC) at UCLA focuses on understanding the critical, modifiable patient, provider and system barriers affecting deceased and living donor kidney transplant rates and designing interventions to overcome them. For both adult and pediatric patients, Dr. Waterman’s research laboratory examines how best to expand access to transplant, reduce racial disparities in transplant, ensure informed decision-making, ensure transplant adherence, promote paired donation, and increase living donation rates.
Dr. Waterman’s research incorporates many components of clinical and translational research including patient-oriented research, clinical trials, behavioral studies, development of new educational technologies, cost-effectiveness analyses, outcomes and health services research, and implementation of best practices. TREC focuses on translating the findings from effective clinical trials into everyday practice through collaboration with healthcare providers, national transplant leaders and healthcare policymakers. Dr. Waterman actively collaborates with and mentors other researchers in nephrology, urology, health services research, public health, and nursing with expertise and interest in transplantation or education research.
Dr. Waterman received her PhD in Social Psychology with an emphasis on patient education and behavior change from Washington University in St. Louis. She has been a faculty member, most recently an Associate Professor of Medicine, at Washington University School of Medicine in Internal Medicine, General Medical Sciences. She also has served as the Barnes-Jewish Transplant Center Quality Manager, the Vice-Chair of the United Network of Organ Sharing’s (UNOS) Living Donor Committee, and on the American Society of Transplantation’s (AST’s) Psychosocial Community of Practice. In 2014, she co-chaired a national Workgroup for the AST Consensus Conference on Best Practices in Live Kidney Donation which established a set of recommendations for optimal transplant education.
Much of her work focuses on how renal patients and living donors make decisions about transplant and living donation and whether lack of transplant knowledge, fears about transplant, and disparities in care or education limit interested patients from obtaining transplants. She also designs and tests the efficacy of new patient and living donor educational resources to motivate kidney patients to receive transplants and living donors to donate. She has a special research emphasis designing culturally competent education for African-American and Latino communities less likely to pursue transplant. Dr. Waterman’s research has been supported by over $17 million dollars in federal grants. She has published over 60 research articles and book chapters.
Due to national interest in these resources, Dr. Waterman founded the nonprofit corporation, Explore Transplant, to enable transplant and living donation education to reach more individuals. Explore Transplant’s education programs and training seminars have benefited more than 30,000 kidney patients served by over 120 transplant programs and 3,000 dialysis centers since 2009.