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Thomas E. Starzl Prize in Surgery and Immunology

2016 Thomas E. Starzl Prize in Surgery and Immunology

Dr. David E.R. Sutherland received his MD from the University of Minnesota Medical School in 1966. After completing an internship at West Virginia University Hospital, Dr. Sutherland served in the United States Army for two years. He then returned to the University of Minnesota where he completed his surgical residency and fellowship in clinical transplantation, at the same time earning a PhD degree in 1977. In 1976, he was appointed to the faculty of the Department of Surgery at the University of Minnesota and rose to the rank of full Professor in 1986. During his four decades at the University of Minnesota, he has been the founding director of the Shulze Diabetes Institute (1994-2013), Head of the Division of Transplantation (1995-2009), and the John S. Najarian, MD, Surgical Chair in Clinical Transplantation (2008-2009). He is currently Emeritus Professor of Surgery.

Dr. Sutherland has dedicated his career to developing innovative treatment options for patients with diabetes and pancreatic disorders. In 1974, during his residency, he performed the world’s first clinical islet transplant alongside his mentor Dr. John Najarian. In 1977, he showed that islet autografts could preserve insulin-secretion after total-pancreatectomy for chronic pancreatitis establishing a new treatment to prevent the onset of diabetes after pancreatic resection. Through this work he subsequently demonstrated that islets in an ectopic location were metabolically durable and that autografts were more durable than allografts – therefore, pioneering the development of minimally invasive beta-cell-replacement therapy as an alternative to insulin therapy or pancreas transplantation. Dr, Sutherland performed the first living-donor partial pancreas transplant in 1979, aiming to address the organ shortage problem that remains a pervasive challenge in transplantation. In 1980, he established the International Pancreas and Islet Transplant Registry, fostering international collaboration in the field. He also studied outcomes of pancreas transplantation between identical twins and observed beta-cell destruction, showing that type 1 diabetes is indeed an autoimmune disease. Finally, more than anyone in the field, he emphasized the value of pancreas-transplant-alone (PTA) in nonuremic patients whose diabetes posed more of a health risk than the side-effects of immunosuppression.

Dr. Sutherland’s contributions to the field of transplantation have been recognized nationally and internationally. He was awarded the American Society of Transplant Surgeons-Roche Pioneer Award in 2007 and the Medawar Prize of The Transplantation Society in 2012.  He has been actively involved in furthering the field of transplantation through his leadership in a variety of organizations including serving as president of the American Society of Transplant Surgeons (1990-1991), the Cell Transplantation Society (1994-1995), the International Pancreas and Islet Transplant Association (1995-1997), and The Transplantation Society (2002-2004).

The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, the Department of Surgery, and the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute are honored to present the 2016 Thomas E. Starzl Prize in Surgery and Immunology to Dr. David E.R. Sutherland in recognition of his outstanding clinical and scientific achievements.

The 2016 Starzl Prize lecture will be held at 4:00 p.m., Wednesday, April 20, 2016, Saife Hall Lecture Room 6.