Date:  Oct. 12, 2009

Contacts:  Christine Stencel, Senior Media Relations Officer

Luwam Yeibio, Media Relations Assistant

Office of News and Public Information

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Thomas E. Starzl, Pioneer of Organ Transplantation Science,

Receives Institute of Medicine's 2009 Lienhard Award


WASHINGTON -- The Institute of Medicine today presented the 2009 Gustav O. Lienhard Award to Thomas E. Starzl, Distinguished Service Professor of Surgery and director emeritus of the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute, University of Pittsburgh.  The award honors Starzl -- regarded as the "father of modern organ transplantation" -- for his foundational role in pioneering and advancing transplantation science.


"Surgery and medicine have been profoundly affected by the transformative work of Dr. Tom Starzl and his clinical teams," said Harvey V. Fineberg, president of the Institute of Medicine.  "He began his work in transplantation at a time when the field existed as little more than theory and led the way in making transplantation a life-saving reality for many illnesses once considered untreatable."


Starzl and his research teams are responsible for several of the most notable advancements in the development of organ transplantation, starting with the first successful liver transplant in 1967.  He went on to perform the first multivisceral organ transplantation in 1987 and the first pancreatic islet transplantation in 1990.  He introduced many of the immune-system-suppressing regimens that overcame the problems of organ rejection and vaulted transplantations from the realm of the far-fetched into medical reality.  His pioneering use of the drug cyclosporine combined with anti-lymphocyte globulin in the 1980s not only made transplantation an accepted treatment for patients with end-stage liver, kidney, and heart disease, but also pointed to the feasibility of transplanting other organs. 


Transplantation surgery became more widely available in the United States and worldwide in large part because Starzl shared his knowledge and techniques with dozens of physicians who came to train under his tutelage.  His decades-long efforts to overcome the formidable challenges of getting the body to accept foreign material contributed to techniques that have reduced the need for post-operative suppression of the patient's immune system.


Starzl received his M.D. and Ph.D. from Northwestern University, Chicago.  He was elected to the Institute of Medicine in 1999.  He has received numerous awards, including the National Medal of Science in 2004.  His other honors include the David M. Hume Memorial Award from the National Kidney Foundation; the Medallion for Scientific Achievement presented by the American Surgical Association; the 1998 Lannelongue International Medal, which is awarded every five years by the Academie Nationale de Chirurgie (National Academy of Surgery, France); the 2001 King Faisal International Prize for Medicine; and the 2002 Prince Mahidol Award.  He has served as president of the Transplantation Society, founding president of the American Society of Transplant Surgeons, and founding president of the Transplant Recipients International Organization.  


Starzl is the 24th recipient of the Lienhard Award, which includes a medal and $25,000 prize.  Given annually, the award recognizes outstanding national achievement in improving personal health care services in the United States.  Nominees are eligible for consideration without regard to education or profession, and award recipients are selected by a committee of experts convened by the Institute of Medicine.  This year's selection committee was chaired by Stephen M. Shortell, Blue Cross of California Distinguished Professor of Health Policy and Management, professor of organization behavior, and dean of the School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley.


The Lienhard Award is funded by an endowment from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  Gustav O. Lienhard was chair of the foundation's board of trustees from the organization's establishment in 1971 to his retirement in 1986 -- a period in which the foundation moved to the forefront of American philanthropy in health care.  Lienhard, who died in 1987, built his career with Johnson & Johnson, beginning as an accountant and retiring 39 years later as its president.  Additional information about the Lienhard Award can be found at   


Established in 1970 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine provides independent, objective, evidence-based advice to policymakers, health professionals, the private sector, and the public.  The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council make up the National Academies.


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