Dr. Thomas E. Starzi, first surgeon to perform liver transplant, dies at 90

Thomas E. Starzl, MD, PhD, a surgeon and researcher who helped pioneer the field of organ transplantation, died Saturday at age 90, reports The New York Times.

Dr. Starzl earned both his medical degree and a doctorate in neurophysiology in 1952 from Evanston, Ill.-based Northwestern University.

In 1967, he became the first surgeon to successfully transplant a liver at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

Dr. Starzl is also credited for his research on cyclosporine — a drug used to prevent patients from rejecting their donor organs. The Food and Drug Administration approved cyclosporine in 1983 following his extensive research efforts.

Dr. Starzl joined the University of Pittsburgh (Pa.) School of Medicine in 1981 where he served as a professor of surgery and launched the first liver transplant program in the country, according to a news release. Here, he also studied the transplantation of multiple organs at once and advocated for the use of the experimental anti-rejection drug FK-506, which was easier to use and more effective than cyclosporine.

University of Pittsburgh named Dr. Starzl director of the transplant unit in 1990 and officially named it the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute six years later, according to the report.

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