The International Renal Interest Society (IRIS Ltd):
1998 - 2018

Initial discussions in Madrid (1997) identified a need to improve knowledge and understanding about diagnosis and management of renal disorders in companion animals. As a result, IRIS was formed with the support of Novartis Animal Health, and including 15 Board members from 9 countries around the world (see Table 1).

Table 1. Founding IRIS Board Members (and country of origin) that met in Vienna in 1998
Claudio Brovida Italy
Scott Brown USA
Jean-Pierre Cotard France
Jonathan Elliott UK
María Josefa Fernández del Palacio Spain
Susanne Gnass Germany
Alexander Hüttig Germany
Andreas Kösztolich Austria
Hervé Lefebvre France
Robert Michell UK
Russell Mitten Australia
Jean-Louis Pouchleon France
Robert Santilli Italy
Toshifumi Watanbe Japan
David Watson Australia

Figure 1: Photo from an early IRIS Board meeting in 1999 with additional US representatives listed

IRIS Guidelines

The initial meeting of IRIS was held in 1998 in Vienna, where the Board decided to develop a staging system for chronic kidney disease (CKD) in dogs and cats. The staging system proposed was used initially by IRIS Board members and refined in the light of ongoing experience, treatment recommendations being developed and linked to each of the proposed CKD stages in 2002. Recognition and acceptance of the IRIS CKD staging system was obtained from the European and American Societies of Veterinary Nephrology and Urology in 2003, and representatives of these two associations were added to the IRIS board.

Since their inception, the IRIS CKD guidelines have been reviewed and revised at least annually, reflecting developing knowledge and understanding, and they have gained increasing acceptance by veterinary nephrologists and clinicians. Elements of earlier versions of the guidelines have been included in various texts (including The Merck Veterinary Manual, Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine, Current Veterinary Therapy, BSAVA Manual of Canine and Feline Nephrology and Urology), translated into Japanese and Spanish, and used in a number of scientific and clinical reports. However, the most recent updates of IRIS CKD guidelines in English can be accessed

A proposal for the Board to work on a similar system to aid diagnosis and management of acute kidney injury (AKI) in dogs and cats was presented in 2009. The initial version of the IRIS AKI grading system, adopted by the Board in 2012, is currently undergoing further development, and it is intended to devise IRIS AKI treatment guidelines as part of this project.

Osborne and IRIS Awards

The IRIS Board is responsible for administering two awards made in the field of veterinary nephrology. Both awards were funded initially by Novartis Animal Health, and are now supported by its successor, Elanco Animal Health, a division of Eli Lilly and Company.

The Osborne Award, for career achievement in veterinary nephrology, is presented to a distinguished scientist for exemplary life-long contributions to veterinary nephrology and was named in honour of its first recipient (Carl Osborne). This award has been granted six times since 1999 (see Table 2).

Table 2. Winners of the Osborne Award
1999 – Carl Osborne (USA)
2000 – Delmar Finco (USA)
2002 – Kenneth Bovée (USA)
2004 – Donald Low (USA)
2011 – George Lees (USA)
2019 – Stephen DiBartola (USA)

The IRIS Award is provided to early career clinicians or scientists for outstanding fundamental or clinical research in the field of veterinary nephrology. Since 2000, it has been granted 11 times (annually to 2005, biennially from 2006), to promising individuals from various countries to encourage further veterinary nephrology research (see Table 3).

Table 3. Winners of the IRIS Award
2000 – Penney Barber (UK)
2001 – Valérie Chetboul (France)
2002 – Harriet Syme (UK)
2003 – Chris Adin (USA)
2004 – Frederic Jacob (USA)
2005 – Andrea Zatelli (Italy)
2006 – Barrak Pressler (USA)
2009 – Gilad Segev (Israel)
2011 – Rosanne Jepson (UK)
2013 – Natalie Finch (UK)
2016 – Dominique Paepe Finch (Belgium)
2018 – Jessica Quimby (USA)

Other IRIS Initiatives

Epidemiological project. In 2002 software was made available to enable veterinary practitioners to submit cases via the IRIS website for IRIS CKD staging and to obtain epidemiological data on CKD in cats and dogs.

Renal Pathology Study. An IRIS project group on renal pathology was formed in 2005. The initial meeting in Utrecht to write a proposal to the WSAVA to enable a study of renal pathology led to the creation of the WSAVA Renal Standardizations Group in 2005, involving several IRIS Board members and a number of external participants. Reports on the WSAVA standardisation project and on a consensus approach to canine glomerulonephritis led by IRIS Board members were published as a supplement to the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine in 2013. In 2016, the WSAVA database of kidney disease cases, including pathological findings, became the IRIS Renal Database.

IRIS Napa Meetings. At its 2014 meeting, the IRIS Board approved the concept of "IRIS Napa Meetings" to further advance the discipline of veterinary nephrology. These forums involve a panel of experts to focus on problem recognition and solutions to topical issues affecting kidney health in dogs and cats. The inaugural meeting in 2015 focused on recognition of early (subclinical) kidney disease and its role in progressive kidney injury. It considered the potential of novel renal biomarkers to permit earlier recognition of CKD and AKI and their potentially interrelated pathogeneses and addressed the intriguing question as to whether CKD is a smouldering AKI.

IRIS Renal Week. The Advanced Kidney Therapies Symposium ("Renal Week") was previously organized and hosted at the Animal Medical Center in New York, but in 2015 the IRIS Board agreed to become its new parent. The inaugural IRIS Renal Week at the University of California's Davis campus hosted 130 attendees and was judged to be very successful, as was the 2018 IRIS Renal Week, attended by 177 from a wide range of countries throughout the world.

Partnership of IRIS with UC Davis Hemodialysis Academy. In 2018 the IRIS Board agreed to partner with the UC Davis Hemodialysis Academy (established in 2014) to assist them with their program that provides education and training in extracorporal therapies for veterinary use. Currently 161 students from 24 countries are enrolled in the Academy.

IRIS Continues to Evolve

As the functions of IRIS have become more diverse and complex, formal bylaws became necessary to ensure the integrity and continuity of the Board's actions; these were introduced in 2013. By 2016 it became necessary for IRIS to became a legal entity in order to continue functioning; it is now registered as a company limited by guarantee through UK Companies House. But the activities of IRIS remain unchanged – it continues to be a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to promoting the discipline of comparative nephrology, and improving the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of kidney disease.

Since its establishment, a number of Board members have stepped down and been replaced by new elected members. The current (2022) Board consists of 14 members from 8 countries. No group photograph is available of the current board. Earlier Board members that helped founding and present members (shown in Table 1) contribute to the development and success of the IRIS project are listed in Table 4, along with names of employees of Novartis Animal Health and Elanco Animal Health that have facilitated the work of IRIS.

Table 4. Emeritus IRIS Board Members and Facilitators of the Board's Activities
Emeritus Board Members Facilitators of IRIS Board Activities
SA Brown
JP Cotard
MJ Fernández del Palacio
A Font
S Gnass
A Hüttig
A Kosztolich
HP Levefbvre
AR Michell
R Mitten
J-P Pouchelon
R Santilli
A Van Dongen
T Watanabe
ADJ Watson
A Zatelli
Laure Martignoni
Agnes Delauche
Esther Rawlinson
Michael Born
Nichola Archer Thompson