Dr. Thomas Starzl receiving prestigious King Faisal International prize this week in Saudi Arabia

Transplant pioneer Thomas E. Starzl, M.D., Ph.D., professor of surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, will accept one of the world's most prestigious awards, the King Faisal International Prize for Medicine, at a formal ceremony to be held Feb. 17 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, under the auspices of the King of Saudi Arabia.

According to the King Faisal Foundation, the largest philanthropic organization in the Middle East, the prize is in recognition of Dr. Starzl's outstanding contributions in the field of organ transplantation. He shares the award with two other transplant pioneers, Norman E. Shumway, M.D., a heart transplant surgeon from Stanford University, and Sir Roy Calne, a liver transplant surgeon from the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom. Each will receive a uniquely cast, commemorative 24-carat, 200-gram gold medal. The award's cash endowment of $200,000 will be divided among the three winners.

"Professor Starzl's pioneering work has influenced all aspects of organ transplantation," said officials from the Faisal Foundation when the winners of the prizes were announced in December.

Dr. Starzl performed the world's first liver transplant in 1963 at the University of Colorado. In 1962 and 1963, he introduced the concept of incorporating corticosteroids into the immunosuppression regimen for patients receiving kidney transplants from non-identical human living donors, which led to the largest series of kidney transplants and invigorated clinical attempts throughout the world. Lessons learned from kidney transplantation and other discoveries he made about liver physiology resulted in his performing the world's first successful liver transplant in 1967.

Since coming to the University of Pittsburgh in 1981, Dr. Starzl pioneered the immunosuppressive agent tacrolimus, resulting in significant improvements in organ transplant survival rates and allowing successful transplantation of the small intestine and multivisceral graf

Contact: Lisa Rossi
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

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