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Transplant pioneer to visit UT Health Science Center

San Antonio (Sept. 15, 2003) — The world's first human liver transplant was performed by Thomas E. Starzl, M.D., Ph.D., in 1963. In the 40 years since this landmark medical breakthrough, Dr. Starzl has led the worldwide effort to transform transplant surgery into a viable and effective treatment option for millions of patients around the world.

Dr. Starzl, professor of surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School and director emeritus of the university's Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute, will visit San Antonio next week to give this year's Presidential Distinguished Lecture at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSC). The public is invited.

Dr. Starzl will speak on "The Origin of Organ Transplantation." The lecture is at 10 a.m. Friday, Sept. 19, in the UTHSC auditorium. A reception will follow in the auditorium foyer.

Known worldwide as the "Father of Transplant Surgery," Dr. Starzl has significantly advanced treatments for people with end-stage diseases of the liver, kidney and heart. In 1999 the Institute for Scientific Information identified Dr. Starzl as the most cited scientist in clinical medicine. Dr. Starzl's autobiography, The Puzzle People: Memoirs of a Transplant Surgeon, chronicles his successes and challenges in pioneering a new medical frontier.

"Dr. Starzl is one of the most important physician-scientists of the past century," said Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., president of the Health Science Center. "He has dedicated his career to opening up an entirely new field of medicine, and his work has had an immeasurable impact on both the art and science of transplant surgery."

As a well-respected pediatric transplant surgeon and the only health science center president in the nation who continues to regularly perform surgery, Dr. Cigarroa has a special interest in bringing Dr. Starzl to San Antonio.

Dr. Starzl trained Glenn Halff, M.D., professor and director of the Health Science Center's division of organ transplantation. In 1992 Dr. Halff started the Health Science Center's liver transplant program, now one of the largest and most successful programs in the nation. In 1997 Drs. Halff and Cigarroa performed the first split liver transplant in South Texas.

Contact: Will Sansom or Lucie Portela