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Research at NCIRE

NCIRE-The Veterans Health Research Institute is the leading private nonprofit institute devoted to Veterans health research in the United States. Our mission is to advance Veterans health through research.

We support the work of some of the nation's foremost physicians and scientists at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, the premier biomedical research facility in the VA system. All have faculty appointments at the University of California, San Francisco, which has its own proud traditions of research and patient care. We also partner with the U.S. Department of Defense to support health research on behalf of our men and women in the Armed Forces.

Those who have served in uniform have given their best for their country. In return, we believe that they deserve nothing less than the best health care research we can provide.

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Kirsten Johansen, MD

Staff Physician, Medical Service and Director, Dialysis, SFVAHCS
Associate Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology & Biostatistics, UCSF


Physical Activity in Patients on Dialysis

Dr. Kirsten Johansen was one of the first investigators to perform detailed studies of physical functioning among dialysis patients, including physical performance, self-reported functioning, and muscle weakness and atrophy. She was the first to quantify both the degree of physical inactivity among dialysis patients and the association between physical inactivity and mortality in this population. Dr. Johansen's group found that dialysis patients were significantly less active than even sedentary healthy individuals of similar age, and that physical inactivity is associated with higher mortality among patients on dialysis even after adjusting for other factors associated with inactivity and with mortality. In related research, Dr. Johansen designed and completed the first randomized study of the effects of anabolic steroids on lean body mass in dialysis patients. A follow-up study-the largest randomized study of exercise or anabolic steroids in the dialysis population-showed that both nandrolone and weight lifting can increase leg muscle size, and that exercise also resulted in improvement in muscle strength and self-reported physical functioning.

Johansen KL. 2008. Exercise and dialysis. Hemodial Int 12(3):290-300.

Wetmore JB, Lovett DH, Hung AM, Cook-Wiens G, Mahnken JD, Sen S, Johansen KL. 2008. Associations of interleukin-6, C-reactive protein and serum amyloid A with mortality in haemodialysis patients. Nephrology (Carlton) 13(7):593-600.