Transforming Transplantation

Surgeons and research scientists Christian Larsen 80C 84M 91R and Thomas Pearson 82M 88R are true collaborators. From the early 1990s, they worked together at the Emory Transplant Center to find ways to promote immune tolerance of a transplanted organ and improve the health of kidney transplant patients after surgery. “I can’t conceive of being able to replicate that somewhere else,” adds Larsen, “to have a partner I can trust completely.”

The Carlos and Marguerite Mason Trust has contributed $7.7 million to the Department of Surgery during Campaign Emory, and its financial support helped Larsen and Pearson play a leading role in discovering belatacept, a drug to prevent graft rejection.

“Our goal is to achieve a normal life span for kidney transplant patients, and have them survive dialysis-free,” says Larsen, former Carlos and Marguerite Mason Professor of Surgery in Transplantation and current dean of the School of Medicine. The Food and Drug Administration approved belatacept in 2011 as the drug Nulojix, and it is now in experimental clinical trials for liver transplant and pancreatic islet transplant.

The Mason Trust has supported the Emory Transplant Center for two decades, and its total giving to Emory is nearly $20 million. Among the many projects made possible are the Carlos and Marguerite Mason Chair of Surgery for Liver Transplantation, and the Mason Guest House, which offers low-cost housing for transplant patients.

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