People and Places

Summer 2019 Issue

Michael M. Abecassis, MD, MBA, has been named the dean of the University of Arizona College ofmike abe Medicine – Tucson and will begin his role there in November 2019. He will be coming to Arizona from Northwestern Medicine, where he is the founding director of the Comprehensive Transplant Center and chief of Organ Transplantation in the Department of Surgery. He is also the James Roscoe Miller Distinguished Professor of Medicine, a professor of microbiology-immunology, and a member of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. “Leaving Northwestern Medicine was a very difficult professional and personal decision, but I am comforted by the fact that the Northwestern Medicine transplant program is extremely well positioned to continue providing patients with world-class clinical care, as well as advancing the science of transplantation for years to come,” said Dr. Abecassis. 

Paulo Martins MD, PhD, FACS has been promoted to Associate Professor in the Department of Surgery in the School of Medicine at the University of Massachusetts, Worcester. He serves as a transplant surgeon at UMass and leads the Martins Lab, which focuses on transplant immunology research, at UMass Medical School. 
The White House announced in early July month that Jason Wertheim, MD, PhD, is one of four VA researchers who have been nominated by the Department of Veterans Affairs for a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). The PECASE is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on young science and engineering professionals. This award will provide funding for Dr. Wertheim’s VA research work in in kidney regenerative medicine. Dr. Wertheim currently serves as an associate professor of biomedical engineering at Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering and as the Vice Chair for Research and the Edward G. Elcock Professor of Surgical Research in the Department of Surgery at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine.
Uterus-Transplant-650x450In June, the Cleveland Clinic delivered the first baby in the U.S. from the transplanted uterus of a deceased donor. The clinic had also performed the uterus transplant for the woman who gave birth to the baby. Since Cleveland Clinic began its clinical research trial offering uterus transplants, the team has completed five uterus transplants; three of those transplants were successful, including one birth (of the aforementioned baby), and two resulted in hysterectomies. Currently, women are awaiting embryo transfers, while several more candidates are listed for transplant.

Martin I. Montenovo, MD, FACS, has accepted a new position as Associate Professor in the Division of Hepatobiliary Surgery and Liver Transplantation at Vanderbilt University. He comes to Vanderbilt from the University of Washington Division of Transplantation.

Staff News

garrett_danASTS is pleased to announce that Daniel Garrett, CAE, has been appointed as the ASTS Executive Director/CEO. He formally stepped into the role on June 17, 2019. Mr. Garrett has completed 4 years of service as the Executive Director/CEO of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery (AACS) in Chicago, Illinois, and previously served as Executive Director of the Iowa Chiropractic Society (ICS). In addition to ICS, he served as CEO of Advantage Chiropractic Network, a not-for-profit independent practice association (IPA) of nearly 300 chiropractic physicians. Prior to his appointment at ICS, Mr. Garrett served as senior vice president for eight years at Prevent Blindness America (PBA) (the nation’s second oldest volunteer health organization) in Chicago. Preceding PBA, he worked for more than five years at the American Red Cross, in both Chicago and Washington, D.C., where he worked directly under Elizabeth Dole managing communications and marketing activities. He also served as director of marketing for the Greater Chicago Chapter of the Red Cross.

Spring 2019 Issue

Jayme E. Locke, MD, MPH, has been named director of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Comprehensive Transplant Institute. She serves as an associate professor in the Division of Transplantation; director of both the Incompatible Kidney Transplant Program and the Transplant Analytics, Informatics and Quality program; vice chair of Outcomes and Health Services Research in the Department of Surgery; and associate chief medical officer for Inpatient Quality and Patient Safety at UAB Hospital.

Shortly before his death in March Oscar Salvatierra, Jr., MD, was announced as the recipient of the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award given by the International Pediatric Transplant Association, a Section of The Transplantation Society. He was recognized at the 10th IPTA Congress in Vancouver, BC, Canada, in May 2019.

James F. Burdick, MD, is profiled in the American Medical Association “Members Move Medicine” campaign and discusses his career as a transplant surgeon. 

Ashley Morgan has been promoted to Managing Editor of the American Journal of Transplantation. She has been with AJT since 2014, when she started as Editorial Assistant. She graduated from the University of Missouri-Kansas City with a master’s in English with an emphasis in writing poetry. Before joining the AJT team, Ashley edited advertising websites. When not assisting authors and editors, Ashley can usually be found with a book or a craft project in hand and a cat at her side. She’s very excited about this new opportunity as Managing Editor. 

thumbnailStuart W. Jamieson, MB, FRCS, has written “Close to the Sun: The Journey of a Pioneer Heart Surgeon,&rdquo in which he recounts the early days of heart transplant from the perspective of the research labs and operating rooms where it was being refined. More than just an autobiography or a history, Close to the Sun portrays how medical science advances. It examines the ingredients of medical breakthroughs: painstaking research punctuated by dramatic new insights and the difficult, often split-second, ethical decisions in employing experimental procedures made as patients’ medical conditions teeter. To learn more or order:

“A literary spellbinder that has important implications in geopolitics as well as medical science.” – Thomas E. Starzl, MD, PhD

Matthew Cooper, MD, will be presented with the National Kidney Foundation's first ever award for Excellence in Kidney Transplantation. He is a professor of surgery at Georgetown University School of Medicine and the director of kidney and pancreas transplantation at the Medstar Georgetown Transplant Institute. “We are so pleased to bestow Dr. Cooper with the National Kidney Foundation’s first award in kidney transplantation,” said NKF President Dr. Holly Kramer in a press release. “His work and extensive commitment to helping kidney patients leads to increased transplants, fewer people on dialysis and lives saved.”

In 2018 Gift of Life Donor Program led the U.S. for the 11th consecutive year in coordinating the most life-saving organs for transplant among all 58 U.S. organ procurement organizations (OPOs). In addition, Gift of Life broke two national records in 2018 by achieving the highest totals ever recorded for organ donors (615) and transplants (1,671) for a U.S.-based OPO in a single year.

Staff News

thumbnail ASTS welcomes Jennifer Taylor as the new Member Engagement Assistant. She has a background in health communications and public policy, with internships at the Office of the Ohio Inspector General, Alliance for Justice, and Senator Sherrod Brown’s office. She also worked as Communications Assistant at the National Partnership for Women & Families and as a field organizer for the Ohio Democratic Party. Jen will be working with membership, journal subscriptions, social media, and emails to members, and will support several committees. In her free time, Jen enjoys re-watching Friends on Netflix and eating as much pizza and sushi as possible.

ASTS congratulates Diane L. Mossholder, MA, CAE, for being named one of the 2019 Association Innovators by DCA Live

Fall 2018/Winter 2019 Issue

Francisco G. Cigarroa, MD, professor of pediatric and transplant surgery at UT Health San Antonio, received the American Medical Association Foundation Award for Health Education on November 10 at the AMA Interim Meeting. The award recognizes the exemplary work of physicians who have made impactful contributions to the field of medical education.

Shujun Li, MD, has been presented the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award by Marquis Who's Who, the world's premier publisher of biographical profiles. Dr. Li has worked at the University of Texas Southwest Medical Center as an associate professor since 1996.

UHhospitals 50th anniversaryUniversity Hospitals celebrated the 50th anniversary of its transplant program, during which it has performed nearly 4,000 transplants. In 2017, 132 solid organs were transplanted through the UH Transplant Institute. More than 700 people -- including more than 400 organ recipients – gathered at First Energy Stadium to celebrate this 50-year streak of success.

UHhospitals anniversary cakeSurgeons at UH performed the first experimental kidney transplant in July 1958, although that patient lived just eight days. In December 1968, UH surgeons performed their first successful kidney transplant with an organ from a deceased donor. Two years later, UH saw its first kidney transplant with a living donor. Other milestones followed, with the first kidney-pancreas transplant in 1986, the first heart transplant in 1988, the first isolated pancreas transplant in 1988, the first liver transplant in 1989, the first heart-lung transplant in 1992, and the first lung-only transplant in 1999.

When Death Becomes Life bookJoshua D. Mezrich, MD (Associate Professor of Surgery in the division of multi-organ transplantation at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health), is the author of the upcoming book When Death Becomes Life, which goes on sale January 15, 2019 from HarperCollins. This book—part memoir, part history—is a fascinating look at the world of transplant surgery which combines a thrilling examination of medical advances with remarkable and intimate stories about Mezrich’s patients. This exceptional work of death and life takes its place besides Atul Gawande’s Complications, Siddhartha Mukherjee’s The Emperor of All Maladies, and Jerome Groopman’s How Doctors Think. When Death Becomes Life is available for pre-order now:

“In this highly accessible look into the world of modern transplantation, Dr. Mezrich proves himself to have innate creativity, conveying a surgeon’s genuine emotion without becoming maudlin and portraying both the triumphs and failures of the transplant field. With When Death Becomes Life, Mezrich succeeds in giving the reader a glimpse of how a cacophony of human experience can become a harmonious triumph of medical science.”- Allan D. Kirk, MD, PhD, Chairman of Surgery, Duke University and Editor-in-Chief, American Journal of Transplantation

Staff News

ASTS Executive Director Kim Gifford has announced that she will be joining her husband in retirement in early 2019. A search for her successor is underway, and the position description is posted on She has been with ASTS for over 13 years and served as Executive Director for more than 7 of them. During her tenure, ASTS has seen enormous growth in its educational and training efforts, including the establishment of the Transplant Accreditation and Certification Council. She will be much missed!

ASTS staff at GeorgetownIn September, ASTS staff members Laurie Kulikosky, Ellie Proffitt, Jill-Morgan Aubert, and Sofie Epshtein were able to observe kidney donor and recipient surgeries at Medstar Georgetown Transplant Institute. Thanks to the transplant team for making them welcome!