2020 ASTS Recognition Award Recipients

Francis Moore Excellence in Mentorship in the Field of Transplantation Surgery Award

* Supported by Veloxis Pharmaceuticals

John RobertsJohn Roberts, MD
UCSF Division of Transplant Surgery

Dr. Roberts is a transplant surgeon and professor of surgery in the Division of Transplant Surgery at the University of California, San Francisco. He is also the Endowed Chair in Abdominal Transplantation there.

After receiving his medical degree at the University of California, San Diego, Dr. Roberts completed his postdoctoral training at the University of Washington, Cornell University, and the University of Minnesota. Dr. Roberts supervises medical students, residents, and postdoctoral fellows. He has received awards from the residents for his teaching efforts. He is active in health policy regarding transplantation and is a member of professional and public service organizations related to this field.

Dr. Roberts serves on numerous national committees related to his expertise on organ distribution. He frequently delivers presentations on topics involving transplantation science and the management of surgical patients.

ASTS Pipeline Award

* Supported by Veloxis Pharmaceuticals

Geevarghese_Sunil KSunil Geevarghese, MD, FACS, MSCI
Vanderbilt University Medical Center

A native of Tennessee, Dr. Geevarghese received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga in 1990 as a William E. Brock Scholar and Irving Grote Chemistry Scholar.  He attended Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee, graduating with Doctor of Medicine, the John G. Coniglio Prize in Biochemistry and the H. William Scott, Jr. Prize in Surgery in 1994.  He remained at Vanderbilt for general surgery residency and performed liver transplant research in the laboratory of C. Wright Pinson, MD, MBA.  His American Society of Transplant Surgeons (ASTS) fellowship in multiorgan transplant and hepatobiliary surgery followed at the Dumont-UCLA Transplant and Liver Cancer Center, Los Angeles, California under the direction of Ronald W. Busuttil, MD, PhD.  There he received the Fujisawa Clinical Achievement in Transplantation Award.   

He returned to Vanderbilt as junior faculty and attained a Master of Science in Clinical Investigation through work in the laboratory of Ravi S. Chari, MD.  There he studied the role of mitochondrial calcium management in liver transplant ischemia-reperfusion.  For this work he was awarded the Americas Hepatopancreatobiliary Association (AHPBA) Prize in Physiology/Biology in 2005.  As a member of the Vanderbilt ICU Delirium and Cognitive Impairment Group, he explored post-liver transplant cognitive impairment, culminating in team publication in the New England Journal of Medicine.  Other research work includes innovations in hepatobiliary imaging, hepatobiliary surgery training pathways and resilience in surgical training with funding support from Vanderbilt and the NIH.  He was recently awarded RO1 funding supporting investigations into deformation corrected image-guided laparoscopic liver surgery in collaboration with the Vanderbilt Department of Biomedical Engineering and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York.  In recognition of research and academic leadership, he was inducted into the Society of University Surgeons.  Given his extensive research and clinical collaborations, he has received a secondary appointment in Radiology.  

The son of distinguished career educators, Dr. Geevarghese has made surgical education his major ongoing work.  Recognizing a major gap in perioperative resident education, he devised the Educational Time-Out to formalize preoperative goal-setting during the surgical time-out and to provide feedback using the SIMPL app. With Kyla Terhune, MD, MBA and Rachel Forbes, MD, MBA he created the ASTS Vanderbilt Transplant and Hepatobiliary Surgery Fellowship which offers standard 2-year fellowship as well as an internal track combining general surgical residency and transplant fellowship into 6 clinical years.  Given the rising tide of burnout among healthcare providers, he created the Vanderbilt Resilience Rapid Response Team, a specially trained team of surgical residents and faculty designed to facilitate early recognition and support. A sought-after educator in transplantation, he has lectured for over a decade in Vanderbilt Schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Management.  For his work in surgical education, he was elected by Vanderbilt medical students to honorary membership in Alpha Omega Alpha in 2014 and received the coveted Robert S. McCleery Master Teacher Award for Surgical Resident Education in 2017. He has won a Chair’s Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award yearly since its advent. A busy clinical hepatobiliary and transplant surgeon with a regional referral base, he was named to the Vanderbilt Physician Council for Clinical Service Excellence in 2018. 

Dr. Geevarghese has been active nationally in numerous roles.  He serves as member of the Wellness Taskforce and Chair of the Membership & Workforce Committee of the ASTS, Chair of the Education & Training Committee and an Executive Council Representative of the Southeastern Surgical Congress, and member of the Executive Council of the Society of University Surgeons.  Over the last 10 years he has mentored twenty students and residents, nine of whom have chosen careers in transplant surgery, three of whom have become associate program directors.  

Married to Dr. Liby John Geevarghese, staff psychiatrist at the Nashville VA Hospital, they have three children and have called Nashville home for nearly 25 years. In his free time, he enjoys family, travel and horology.

ASTS Rising Stars in Transplantation Surgery Award

* Supported by Veloxis Pharmaceuticals

GriesemerAdam D. Griesemer, MD
NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center

Dr. Griesemer graduated with a BA in Chemistry from Harvard University. He then received his MD from the University of Missouri-Columbia, where he was AOA. He performed his general surgery residency at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. While in residency, he spent 3 years in a research fellowship in transplantation immunology at the Transplantation Biology Research Center at MGH. His research was focused on tolerance induction after allogeneic and xenogeneic transplantation, and he received Young Investigator awards from the AST and the IXA. Dr. Griesemer then performed his transplant surgery fellowship at Columbia University and after graduation, he joined the Faculty there 2013. At the same time, he established his laboratory in the Columbia Center for Translational Immunology, headed by Dr. Megan Sykes. His laboratory focuses on tolerance induction in translational animal models and he has the only active nonhuman primate liver transplant model in the US. He has received support for this work from the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases Career Development Award in the Memory of the University of Michigan Transplant Team and the American Society of Transplant Surgeons Faculty Development Grant, in addition to research support from the NIH. He currently serves as the surgical director of the pediatric liver transplant program and the living donor liver transplant program at NYP-Columbia. 

rising star 2Ali Zarrinpar, MD, PhD
University of Florida

Dr. Zarrinpar earned his medical degree from the University of California, San Francisco, where he also obtained a PhD in biochemistry. He completed a general surgery residency and a fellowship in multivisceral transplant and hepatobiliary surgery from the University of California, Los Angeles. He is currently Director of Research in the Division of Transplantation and Hepatobiliary Surgery and Associate Professor in the Departments of Surgery, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Florida, as well as Associate Director of the UF MD/PhD Training Program. He is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the American Society of Transplantation. He serves on the editorial board member of several journals and on committees in American Society of Transplant Surgeons, Association for Academic Surgery, Society for Lab Automation and Screening, among others. He has won a number of awards, including from SLAS, ACS, and ASTS. In addition to his clinical hepatobiliary and transplantation practice, Zarrinpar has an NIH funded research program in liver cancer, liver injury/disease, and transplant immunosuppression.

ASTS Vanguard Prize

* Supported by Veloxis Pharmaceuticals

garrett rollGarrett R. Roll, MD, FACS
University of California, San Francisco

Dr. Roll is an abdominal organ transplant and general surgeon. He completed both general surgery training and the abdominal organ transplant fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco. During his training, Dr. Roll spent 2 years investigating stem cell biology in the context of liver cell therapy, as well as normal and pathologic liver regeneration. After his fellowship, Dr. Roll moved to England to become a Senior International Fellow in Liver Transplant at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, one of the busiest liver transplant departments in the Europe. There he gained valuable experience in the blossoming field of normothermic machine liver perfusion and utilization of DCD donors prior to returning to UCSF. Since returning to UCSF, he has developed a busy clinical practice in transplant surgery and general surgery in patients with end stage organ disease. His research is focused on clinical trials in transplant recipients, organ utilization and organ discard, and quality improvement in organ transplant. He is also the Vice Chair of the Transplant Quality Improvement Committee. The principles of his basic science background and clinical research on organ utilization remain invaluable in his translational science career, as he has recently built a machine preservation lab with collaborator Holger Willenbring, MD, PhD.

Amit MathurAmit K. Mathur, MD, MS
Mayo Clinic Arizona

Dr. Mathur is a Consultant in the Division of Transplant Surgery, Department of Surgery, Mayo Clinic, Phoenix, Arizona and an Associate Professor of Surgery at the Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine. Dr. Mathur is the Director of the Mayo Clinic Hispanic Transplant Program and is the Fellowship Program Director of Abdominal Transplant Surgery at Mayo Clinic in Arizona. He also serves as the Director for Transplant Quality and Compliance at Mayo Clinic.

Dr. Mathur attended the University of Florida where he earned a BS in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology with high honors  He received his MD degree with Honors in Research from the University of Florida College of Medicine. He completed his general surgical training and served as Administrative Chief Resident at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. During that period, he completed a two-year Health Services Research Fellowship focused on Transplantation at the University of Michigan and earned an MS degree in Health and Healthcare Research. He subsequently completed a fellowship in Multi-organ Abdominal Transplantation and Hepatobiliary Surgery at the University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor.

His clinical interests are in liver, kidney, and pancreas transplantation as well as liver, bile duct, and pancreas cancers. His academic interests focus on barriers in access to transplantation and living donation, clinical outcomes and health care utilization after transplantation and complex surgery, and quality of care delivery.

Dr. Mathur is certified by the American Board of Surgery and is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He is a member of several professional societies including the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, American College of Surgeons, American Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Association, American Society of Transplant Surgeons, Association of Academic Surgery, Frederic A. Coller Surgical Society, and the International Liver Transplantation Society. He has received a number of honors and awards for his scholarly and research activities. Dr. Mathur has published 70 peer-reviewed publications and 7 book chapters related to his area of expertise.

ASTS Advanced Transplant Provider Award

* Supported by Veloxis Pharmaceuticals

Heidi SarumiHeidi Sarumi, PA-C, MMS
University of Minnesota

Heidi Sarumi is a senior physician assistant for the inpatient solid organ transplant surgery service at the University of Minnesota Medical Center. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with her BS in clinical laboratory science and then proceeded to complete her MMS in physician assistant studies at Midwestern University. It was during her rotations in the Chicago area that she discovered her passion for transplant surgery.  

After completing her boards and becoming a certified physician assistant, she started her career at the University of Minnesota Medical Center over a decade ago. Since then she has become an integral member of the multi-disciplinary inpatient clinical team specializing in pancreas, auto-islet, liver and kidney transplantation. She is dedicated to the education of nursing staff, residents and fellows. She also serves as a mentor to undergraduate students pursuing a career as a physician assistant.  

In addition to clinical practice, Heidi has pursed clinical research, specializing in induction immunosuppression regimens in subpopulations of transplant recipients and the effect on post-transplant rejection and infection outcomes. Results from her studies have achieved national and international recognition at professional meetings, as well as impacting the induction immunosuppression protocols and patient care at her institution.  

Heidi looks forward to continuing to represent advanced practice providers and their increasing contributions to the field of transplantation.

ASTS Sherilyn Gordon Memorial Travel Award  

Julia ShirabiJulia Shirin Torabi
Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Julia Torabi is currently finishing her fourth year of medical school at Albert Einstein College of Medicine after which she plans to pursue career in surgery. Her interest in transplantation began during her first year of medical school after which time she has been extensively involved in transplant research at Montefiore-Einstein Center for Transplantation. She has been involved in numerous research projects with a focus on optimizing patient outcomes, inequities in healthcare and organ allocation policy.  In her final year of medical school as she applies for a general surgery residency, she will complete a senior research fellowship at the Montefiore-Einstein Center for Transplantation.  

As a recipient of the Sherilyn Gordon Memorial Travel Award, Julia hopes to continue to develop her in interests in the many facets of transplantation by learning from leaders in the field. Equipped with this knowledge she hopes to continue to remain involved in the frontiers of transplant surgery and medicine to improve care for patients.

HaugenChristine Haugen, MD, PhD
Johns Hopkins Hospital

Dr. Haugen is currently a general surgery resident at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Prior to moving to Baltimore for surgical training, she grew up in Houston. She attended the University of Texas, earning her undergraduate degree in Biochemistry, followed by her medical degree at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston. During medical school, she conducted basic science research in a surgical oncology laboratory at M.D. Anderson focusing on targeted immunotherapy for breast cancer and melanoma.

As a general surgery resident, she obtained her PhD in Clinical Investigation from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health under the direction of Dr. Dorry Segev. Her current research focuses on the optimization and increased utilization of older liver donors, along with understanding how frailty impacts access to transplantation for candidates and outcomes following transplantation for recipients. She plans to pursue an abdominal transplant fellowship after completion of residency in 2022.

odellHeather W. O’Dell, MSN, ANP-BC, MMHC
Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Heather O’Dell holds a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) as an Adult Nurse Practitioner from Vanderbilt University School of Nursing. Her clinical practice began in transplant hepatology, hepatobiliary surgery, and liver transplant post-surgical care at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC). Knowing early on she wanted to commit her career to this patient population she pursued a Master of Management in Healthcare (MMHC) from Vanderbilt University Owen School of Management. She continues her clinical practice in hepatobiliary surgery and liver transplantation with a special interest in Hepatitis C and increasing organ utilization. She currently oversees clinical operations for liver and kidney transplant, as well as living donor programs at VUMC. She is also engaged in ongoing research efforts related to hepatitis C infected and exposed donors organs, organ utilization, and organ allocation.