Emory Report

July 10, 2000

 Volume 52, No. 37

New Appointment

Larsen named first Transplant Center director

By Sylvia Wrobel

Christian Larsen, associate professor of general surgery and transplantation, has been named the founding director of the comprehensive Emory Transplant Center by Michael Johns, executive vice president for health affairs.

The center is an umbrella organization to oversee and integrate all of the University's academic, clinical care and research resources in organ transplantation. Emory is one of the region's largest multiple organ and tissue transplant centers, and the center's mission is to provide excellence in transplant education, research and service to patients and the community.

Larsen is co-director of the kidney-pancreas transplant program and chief of the division of transplantation. He received his undergraduate and medical degrees here, and after completing a doctor of philosophy at Oxford University, he returned to Emory in 1991 to begin a career in transplant surgery and research.

"Emory is extremely fortunate to have one of the most distinguished faculties in the United States," Larsen said. "Given our outstanding clinical programs, our rich immunology community and the scientific resources of the Yerkes Primate Center, Emory has the opportunity to lead the field of transplantation."

"We're fortunate to have someone of Dr. Larsen's stature who can take this new center forward and make Emory the leader in this emerging area of medicine," Johns said. "His clinical experience has been a large part of Emory's success as the premier institution for solid organ transplants. And his research, focused on the Holy Grail of transplantation-tolerance of transplanted organs without the problems associated with immune suppression-promises to alter organ transplantation forever.

"We also want to recognize our fortune in having some of the best and brightest physicians, researchers, and their respective staffs who will be working with Dr. Larsen to accomplish our goals," Johns said.

The Emory Transplant Center was created largely with funds from the Carlos and Marguerite Mason Trust and the Woodruff Fund. This is not the first time the Mason fund has changed transplantation at Emory; the fund was created in the will of Marguerite Mason specifically to support transplantation-a visionary gift in that she foresaw the promise of this procedure at a time when it seemed highly unlikely to her contemporaries.

The largest previous support was the establishment of the Mason Guest House where patients and their families stay during the long transplantation procedure, beginning with the difficult wait for an available organ.

"Creation of the new center is particularly timely," Johns said, "because we stand at the threshold of a new era, based on new science by Dr. Larsen, his colleague, Dr. Tom Pearson, and others at Emory and elsewhere. These advances will make transplantation a more common, accessible and easy-to-manage procedure for a number of diseases."

Johns said the next step is to recruit a high-level administrator to help Larsen with strategic planning and operational issues.

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