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Harvard Faculty Members to be Awarded Thomas E. Starzl Prize in Surgery and Immunology

PITTSBURGH, May 7, 2012Two scientists from Harvard Medical School who have made important contributions to inducing tolerance of transplanted organs will receive the 2012 Thomas E. Starzl Prize in Surgery and Immunology, an annual award that honors transplantation icon Thomas E. Starzl, M.D., Ph.D.
 
The recipients are David H. Sachs, M.D., Harvard’s Paul S. Russell/Warner-Lambert Professor of Surgery, and A. Benedict Cosimi, M.D., the Claude E. Welch Distinguished Professor of Surgery. The award presentation and a lecture by Drs. Sachs and Cosimi, “Transplantation Tolerance: Bench to Bedside,” are scheduled for 4 p.m., Wednesday, May 9, in Scaife Hall, Lecture Room 6.
 
Drs. Cosimi and Sachs have collaborated closely on defining safe regimens for reliably inducing transplantation tolerance. They and their colleagues were the first to translate transplant tolerance through mixed chimerism from bench to bedside, and together, their work has been regarded as the first successful trial in humans of intentional solid organ tolerance induction. Drs. Sachs and Cosimi currently are exploring the underlying mechanisms of transplantation tolerance and developing safer and more widely applicable therapeutic protocols for use in clinical transplantation.
 
The annual Thomas E. Starzl Prize in Surgery and Immunology is awarded by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Department of Surgery and the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute at UPMC. The award and lectureship were established in 1996 by the Department of Surgery and subsequently endowed by Fujisawa Healthcare Inc. (currently Astellas Pharma Inc.) to honor the distinguished career of Dr. Starzl, whose contributions to organ transplantation and immunology have been recognized around the globe.
 
Dr. Starzl, who currently serves as a distinguished service professor of surgery, was the first surgeon to transplant kidneys in humans with consistent success, perform liver transplantation, and successfully transplant human intestines. He introduced four commonly used immunosuppressive drugs for clinical transplantation. The discovery in 1992 by Dr. Starzl and colleagues of donor-derived leukocytes in the tissues of long-term functioning organ transplant recipients unmasked a fundamental principle of transplantation tolerance.
 
In 1996, the University of Pittsburgh Transplantation Institute, which Dr. Starzl directed for many years, was renamed in his honor, as was Pitt’s Biomedical Science Tower in 2006 on the occasion of his 80th birthday. In 2004, Dr. Starzl received the National Medal of Science, the nation’s highest scientific honor.

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