Amy D. Waterman, PhD

Dr. Amy D. Waterman is a national transplant innovator and the Deborah C. and Clifton B. Phillips Centennial Chair for Clinical Research in Transplant Medicine, a Full Professor, and the Director of Patient Engagement, Diversity, and Education, representing both J.C. Walter Transplant Center at Houston Methodist Hospital and the Houston Methodist Research Institute. In addition to many national transplant leadership positions, Dr. Waterman is a Fellow of the American Society of Transplantation. In 2018, she received the ClearMark Award of Distinction from the Center for Plain Language for her interactive digital application, My Transplant Coach, as well as a National Health Information Merit Award for two educational initiatives developed by Explore Transplant, a nonprofit consortium Dr. Waterman founded.

Dr. Waterman is driven by three beliefs:

  1. transplant-eligible kidney patients deserve to make informed choices about their treatment options, especially deceased and living donor transplantation;
  2. there are many generous people who might become deceased and living kidney donors, but they need to learn what donation involves;
  3. 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.

The Patient Engagement Research Lab 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  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. Her 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. The lab 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 collaborates with and mentors other researchers in nephrology, urology, health services research, economics, public health and nursing with expertise and interest in transplantation or education research. Her research has been supported by more than $25 million in federal grants and she has published more than 80 research articles and book chapters.

Dr. Waterman received her PhD in Social Psychology with an emphasis on patient education and behavior change from Washington University in St. Louis, where she was previously an Associate Professor of Medicine, at Washington University School of Medicine in Internal Medicine, General Medical Sciences. She spent more than 12 years at University of California, Los Angeles as a Professor in Residence and Deputy Director at the Terasaki Institute for Biomedical Innovation.


In 2014, she co-chaired a national Workgroup for the American Society of Transplantation (AST) Consensus Conference on Best Practices in Live Kidney Donation, which established a set of recommendations for optimal transplant education. Since the conference, she has published on these topics and disseminated the findings across the US, Canada and Singapore. In 2015 she co-chaired the End-Stage Renal Disease Access to Kidney Transplantation Technical Expert Panel (TEP) as part of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) initiative; and was inducted into the first class of Fellows of AST (FAST). Currently she is a member of the AST Psychosocial Community of Practice (COP), Transplantation Living Donor COP and Women’s Health COP.

Dr. Waterman also designs and tests the efficacy of new patient and living donor educational resources, including brochures, videos, mobile applications, social media interventions, and provider-based educational interventions in order to motivate kidney patients to receive transplants and living donors to donate. Due to national interest in these resources, in 2009 she founded the not-for-profit suite of educational programs and trainings called Explore Transplant and Explore Living Donation, which enable transplant and living donation education to reach more individuals. Over half of the nation’s 6,000 dialysis centers have participated in 120 plus Explore Transplant provider trainings and are now disseminating education to 28,000 dialysis patients nationwide and 40,000 patients in Ontario, Canada.

In 2016, Dr. Waterman was invited to the White House Organ Donation Summit as a keynote speaker to launch the United Network of Organ Sharing’s (UNOS) Kidney Transplant Learning Center. She led a panel of kidney and transplant organizations, educational researchers, and health literacy experts who established a national, web-based clearinghouse of educational resources about transplant, which launched to the public in early 2018.

Watch Dr. Waterman's White House Talk