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Organs for sale

Distinguished transplant surgeon Francis Delmonico, H’78, helps lead global fight against human-organ trafficking for profit. 

In 1957, the Medical College of Virginia’s legendary “restless genius,” David Hume, M.D., performed the first organ transplant in Virginia – a kidney donated between twins. Hume’s pioneering work in transplant medicine helped usher in a new era of hope for patients and laid the foundation for what today is VCU Health’s Hume-Lee Transplant Center, named in honor of Hume and his colleague and longtime chief of transplantation for the medical center, H.M. Lee, H’61.

Francis Delmonico, H’77, has been called both a respected elder statesman as well as a respected trailblazer. “No other transplant professional has done so much or worked so hard to insist on fair and ethical treatment of the live-organ donor and ethical use of the donated organ.”

Francis Delmonico, H’78, has been called both a respected elder statesman as well as a respected trailblazer. “No other transplant professional has done so much or worked so hard to insist on fair and ethical treatment of the live-organ donor and ethical use of the donated organ.” Photo Credit: Skip Rowland

Yet the medical breakthroughs that made organ transplantation possible also inadvertently spawned a darker legacy. Worldwide, the need for human organs for transplant – particularly kidneys – greatly exceeds the number that become available each year from living and deceased donors; in the U.S. alone, more than 100,000 people on the organ-transplant waiting list need a kidney. This stark disparity, coupled with the fact that kidneys can be taken from living donors, has fueled the rise in a lucrative international black market – the trafficking of human organs for profit.

During a December 2017 weekend celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Hume-Lee Transplant Center, Francis Delmonico, H’78, presented a keynote address on organ trafficking and the international effort – in which he’s played a leadership role – to fight it.

Organ trafficking is a complex global business and a “microcosm of social dysfunction,” said Delmonico. At one end of the transaction are people with money and the need for an organ. At the other end are the impoverished and vulnerable – migrants seeking passage to Europe, persecuted minorities, individuals ensnared in human-trafficking. The traffickers lure donors with promises of money, jobs or other opportunities, and sell the organs for amounts that can exceed $200,000 for a kidney. “Transplant tourism” results when recipients travel to another country for the surgery.

“The levels of corruption get so disgraceful that it staggers you,” said Delmonico, “but it is all about money.”

In some cases donors in desperate need actively seek to sell a kidney. In other cases, donors are solicited with sometimes false or misleading information. And in even more horrifying situations, unwitting victims have been imprisoned or held captive and forced to submit to kidney removal. The fate of these donors is often unknown, but some have shared stories of promised payments that never come, of failing health, of being unable to work anymore.

Recipients too are vulnerable. They may be extorted for an ever-increasing fee, may receive a compromised or even non-functioning organ, may be provided with inadequate care, and sometimes suffer serious medical complications or even death.

In his presentation, Delmonico outlined this portrait of human misery exploited for profit and spoke of how he came to be involved in the fight against organ trafficking. His inspiration, he said, reaches back to his days among one of the last cohorts of residents to study under Hume before the physician’s untimely death in a plane crash. The exacting, patient-focused training Delmonico received under Hume, Lee and the other surgeons here, he said, set the standard he has practiced through his own long and distinguished surgical career at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he continues to serve as emeritus director of transplantation and as professor of surgery for Harvard Medical School.

Delmonico’s prominence and accomplishments in his field led in 2005 to his election as president of UNOS (the United Network for Organ Sharing), which manages the organ-transplant system in the United States. A year later in 2006, he was appointed as advisor to the World Health Organization (WHO) on transplantation matters and accepted the position of director of medical affairs for the international Transplantation Society.

In 2016, Francis Delmonico, H’77, was appointed by Pope Francis to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, which last year held a summit calling on the world to repudiate the practices of organ trafficking and human trafficking for organ removal and to promote ethical principles of transplantation.

In 2016, Francis Delmonico, H’78, was appointed by Pope Francis to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, which last year held a summit calling on the world to repudiate the practices of organ trafficking and human trafficking for organ removal and to promote ethical principles of transplantation.

In 2004, the WHO had called on its member states to address the problem of international organ trafficking and transplant tourism. For his leadership role in the transplant community, Delmonico travelled all over the world, in collaboration with the WHO, to gather a deep understanding of the problem. What he saw was profoundly disturbing, intolerable for a surgeon whose principles were shaped by the pioneers under whom he had learned during his residency.

“There is a regard for the nobility and science of organ transplantation derived from Dr. Hume,” said Delmonico, “that must not be prostituted by organ sales.”

In 2008, Delmonico was instrumental in helping convene an international gathering – the Istanbul Summit – where more than 150 medical leaders, scientists, public-policy experts, ethicists, legal scholars and others together worked to draft what would become known as the Declaration of Istanbul. The landmark statement called for all countries to establish a “legal and professional framework” for organ donation and transplantation that safeguards donors and recipients, enforces standards and prohibits unethical practices, including the financial exploitation of donors through buying and selling organs.

Delmonico continues to serve as senior advisor to the volunteer Declaration of Istanbul Custodian Group to promote, implement and uphold the Declaration across the globe. More recently, in 2016, Delmonico was appointed by Pope Francis to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, which this past year held its own summit, calling organ trafficking and human trafficking for organ removal “crimes against humanity” and calling on the world to repudiate these practices and promote ethical principles of transplantation.

By Caroline Kettlewell



A “respected trailblazer”: Francis Delmonico, H’78

In 1971, Francis Delmonico came to Richmond to begin his residency in surgery, aspiring to a career in the still-young field of organ transplantation. More than 45 years later, he still recalls with appreciation the qualities of the surgeons who trained him, like H.M. Lee, H’61, (“a great teacher”), B.W. Haynes, H’46, (“so exhilarating to watch”), and the legendary chairman of the Department of Surgery, David Hume, M.D., who, Delmonico remembers, was unpretentious enough to repair a shoe by wrapping it in tape, but exacting and unyielding in what he expected of his residents.

At the Hume-Lee Transplant Center’s 60th Anniversary, Francis Delmonico, H’77, reunited with Kyung Ok Chi Lee, M.D., the widow of transplant pioneer H.M. Lee, M.D., for whom the center is named.

At the Hume-Lee Transplant Center’s 60th Anniversary, Francis Delmonico, H’78, reunited with Kyung Ok C. Lee, M.D., the widow of transplant pioneer H.M. Lee, M.D., for whom the center is named. Photo Credit: Kevin Morley

When Hume died at the end of Delmonico’s second year, though, the young resident’s future was thrown into uncertainty. Delmonico had been slated to complete a research fellowship in transplantation under Hume’s direction, but now, “There was no guarantee that there would be the opportunity,” says Delmonico.

Fortunately, a place was found for Delmonico at Massachusetts General Hospital both to participate in research and to continue clinical service. He took with him the standards of excellence in which he’d trained in Richmond; “I knew how to take care of patients,” says Delmonico.

After two years in Boston, Delmonico returned to Richmond to complete his residency, serving the final year as chief resident. But the professional relationship formed with the chief of surgery while in Boston would lead to him being invited back to join the staff at Massachusetts General.

Delmonico practiced surgery at Massachusetts General until 2005, achieving an impressive list of accomplishments and earning broad recognition, including the National Kidney Foundation’s David M. Hume Award for exemplifying “high ideals of scholarship and humanitarianism.”

“He truly is both a respected elder statesman as well as a respected trailblazer,” notes Marlon Levy, M.D., chair of the Division of Transplant Surgery and director of the VCU Hume-Lee Transplant Center. “No other transplant professional has done so much or worked so hard to insist on fair and ethical treatment of the live-organ donor and ethical use of the donated organ.”

By Caroline Kettlewell


Pedal power: Class of 04’s Travis Shaw combos cycling and community service

The Class of 04’s Travis Shaw has found a unique way to give back to his community! With a specially designed cycle called a trishaw, he’s able to offer those in nursing homes or long-term care facilities the chance to get outside.

The Class of 04’s Travis Shaw has found a unique way to give back to his community! With a specially designed cycle called a trishaw, he’s able to offer those in nursing homes or long-term care facilities the chance to get outside and feel the wind in their hair again.

Travis Shaw, M’04, H’09, drew on his lifelong loves of cycling and community service when he founded a unique nonprofit in Richmond last year.

Shaw, a double board-certified specialist in otolaryngology and facial plastic surgery, has founded Cycling Without Age Richmond. The nonprofit, Richmond’s chapter of a worldwide organization, offers those in nursing homes or long-term care facilities the chance to get outside and feel the wind in their hair on a specially designed cycle called a trishaw.

It’s a program, Shaw explains, that rekindled his love of service and helps him connect with older people, many of whom may otherwise don’t get outside much or feel forgotten. “This is one way to tap into the richness of their lives,” he says. During the outings, which last about a half hour, he gets to know the riders, asking questions about their families, their histories and their interests. Most are grateful for the attention.

Cycling Without Age began in bike-friendly Denmark. Word spread, and so did chapters of the program. Shaw’s mother-in-law alerted him to a video from Scotland that was making the rounds on social media; he was intrigued, and began investigating. Within a week, he decided that Richmond needed it, too. “I’d been looking for a way to combine community service with my love of cycling,” he says.

The cycles differ from traditional pedicabs, Shaw notes, because the passengers sit in the front. “They get a better view,” he says, “and it helps balance the bikes better.” The electric-assist motor makes pedaling easier, though Shaw, a former racer, likes to turn it down to give himself more of a workout.

He applied to the international headquarters and was accepted as a “pilot,” as cyclists are called. Shaw used nearly $10,000 of his own money to purchase one of the trishaw electric-assisted bikes. His mother-in-law made introductions at St. Francis Home, a facility for lower-income people. By August, he was ferrying St. Francis residents – two at a time – near the Forest Hill Park area.

Since then, Cycling Without Age has grown to about 10 volunteer pilots, Shaw says, and a GoFundMe campaign is raising funds for more bikes and longer-lasting batteries for them, with plans to expand the program throughout the area.

“I’ve always felt very strongly that giving back, and being involved in our community and trying to make our community a better place, is an important life mission – for all of us,” he says.

Shaw credits his late father, James O. Shaw, M’70, with instilling the desire to serve. But the younger Shaw wasn’t sure exactly what he wanted to do after graduating from Washington and Lee University with a degree in East Asian studies. He taught English in Japan for several years before returning to the U.S., and joining a ski patrol. That job required paramedic training, which kindled an interest in medicine. He took science prerequisites, then enrolled at VCU’s School of Medicine. During his studies, he and his father participated in a medical mission trip to Kenya, where he became fascinated with facial surgery.

Now, with a busy practice, young children and an upcoming gig as an adjunct professor in VCU’s School of Business (where he’ll teach the Business of Medicine and Business Strategy), Shaw admits he doesn’t have a whole lot of spare time. But Cycling Without Age remains a passion that fits into his schedule.

“As physicians, we all want to do something to help other people. But it’s easy to get bogged down with day-in, day-out administrative duties.”

Cycling Without Age allows him to return to a pure essence of service. “I do it because I enjoy it. We all have sense of purpose in our careers, but this is really a sense of purpose in life.”

By Lisa Crutchfield


Alumna and faculty member Betsy Ripley named fellow in Executive Leadership Program for Women in Academic Medicine

Betsy Ripley, M'86, H'92, interim senior associate dean for faculty affairs in the medical school, has been named a 2017-18 fellow in the Executive Leadership Program for Women in Academic Medicine.

Betsy Ripley, M’86, H’92, interim senior associate dean for faculty affairs in the medical school, has been named a 2017-18 fellow in the Executive Leadership Program for Women in Academic Medicine.

The keys to becoming a successful leader, says Betsy Ripley, M’86, H’92, MS’04 (BIOS), begin with being open to the opportunities that come your way while taking time to do your current job well.

“By being a leader and doing your job well on a daily basis, you’re not just shooting for the next job. You’re contributing along the way,” Ripley says. “Be active and participate. People will remember that and you’ll be asked to do the next thing. It all builds on itself.”

Saying “yes” has led Ripley down a path to her current role as interim senior associate dean for faculty affairs for the VCU School of Medicine and, more recently, as a 2017-18 fellow with the prestigious Hedwig van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine. ELAM is a year-long part-time fellowship for women faculty in schools of medicine, dentistry, pharmacy and public health.

A core program of the Institute for Women’s Health and Leadership at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, ELAM is dedicated to developing the professional and personal skills required to lead and manage in today’s complex health environment, with special attention to the unique challenges facing women in leadership positions.

“Applicants have to be incredibly accomplished to earn their position and Dr. Ripley was accepted the first time she applied,” says Dean of Medicine Peter F. Buckley, M.D., who also serves as Ripley’s ELAM sponsor. “This national recognition comes as no surprise to those of us who see Betsy’s outstanding work with faculty on a daily basis. I couldn’t be more proud to see her represent our medical school as part of ELAM.”

More than 1,000 ELAM alumnae hold leadership positions in institutions around the world. The VCU School of Medicine has sponsored 12 previous ELAM fellows.

“At VCU, we have a lot of good strong women leaders — Marsha Rappley, Deborah Davis, Deborah Zimmermann, Melinda Hancock, to name a few,” Ripley says. “Phenomenal women who speak to how open VCU is to developing and growing our women.”

As part of ELAM, fellows participate in three week-long on-site training sessions in September, January and April, in addition to working on assignments and reading throughout the year, participating in the leadership online curriculum and communicating regularly with ELAM colleagues.

Each fellow works on an Institutional Action Project that aligns with her experiences and meets an organizational goal or need at her home university. Ripley chose a cause near and dear to her heart: education and training for faculty members.

“In medical school, we don’t go to class to become a faculty member,” she says. “You come up through the ranks and — poof! — you’re a faculty member.”

In an effort to ensure that faculty development opportunities at the medical school better meet faculty’s needs, Ripley is cataloging each development opportunity offered through the school, assigning it to a particular competency (general knowledge, leadership, scholarship or teaching and service) and determining where more resources are needed.

“We offer a lot of development opportunities but what do our faculty truly need to grow and become successful?” Ripley asks. “Along the way, what they need to know may change. What resources are needed for that growth?”

Ripley will present her project at ELAM’s on-site meeting in April not only to this year’s 54-member ELAM class, but to a host of deans, including Buckley, who will attend the final session. Networking and mentoring opportunities among national leaders is a key component of ELAM’s ultimate goal to expand the national pool of qualified women candidates for leadership in academic medicine, dentistry and public health.

She attributes her leadership success to a multitude of mentors at the medical school: Domenic Sica, M.D., Berry Fowler, M.D., John Nestler, M.D., and Dick Wenzel, M.D., all in the Department of Internal Medicine, as well as retired senior associate dean of faculty affairs P.J. Coney, M.D., and, now, Dean of Medicine Buckley.

“I’m blessed to be at an institution that’s recognized the leadership skills within me,” says Ripley, who earned her medical degree at VCU and remained on the MCV Campus to complete residency training. “I’m lucky many people have helped me when I needed it and encouraged me along the way.”

Ripley remembers a “say yes” moment when early in her career, she applied for a National Institutes of Health K Award at the encouragement of Wenzel and Fowler. She received the award and it led her to sit on a panel of VCU’s Institutional Review Board, of which she later became senior chair. It sparked an interest in research ethics that led to a master’s degree from the Department of Biostatistics, an AMA ethics fellowship, and the role as clinical research compliance officer for the university.

Ultimately, her clinical and research experience, combined with her dual role as a mother to three sons, led her to faculty affairs, first in the Department of Internal Medicine and later in the School of Medicine.

“I can speak to the variety of challenges faculty members might face, both in the workplace and at home,” Ripley says.

Sometimes, it only takes that one voice telling — and showing — others it’s possible that can make all the difference. It was in her medical school interview on the MCV Campus with a female faculty member when Ripley heard the words that molded how she approached medicine, a career and family.

“She said ‘you can do it all — if you want to,'” Ripley says. “I had that one woman who told me I could.”

Now she serves as that one voice of encouragement for faculty members across the School of Medicine, taking her place as a role model and mentor for countless others.

By Polly Roberts


Timely scholarship gives nontraditional student the help he needs to return to the classroom

Kenneth Guinn first experienced the fast-paced, high-stakes environment of the emergency room as a volunteer at a hospital near his undergraduate university.

This story first appeared in Impact, VCU’s award-winning publication that shows how philanthropy changes the lives of students and faculty on campus.This story first appeared in Impact, VCU’s award-winning publication that shows how philanthropy changes the lives of students and faculty on campus.

“I loved the energy,” he says, “and the sense of urgency knowing that patients needed immediate help.”

After those experiences, Guinn knew he wanted to go to medical school. What he didn’t know yet was that his journey to the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine would involve a few unexpected diversions.

“I just always assumed I would go right into medical school after earning my bachelor’s degree,” he says. “I never even considered another path to that goal.”

But as Guinn neared the end of his undergraduate education, something else occurred to him: a feeling that it was his duty to serve his country. Instead of applying to medical school, he joined the Navy.

“When you’re enlisted, you’re pretty low on the totem pole, so respect and humility go a long way,” says Guinn, who completed a four-year enlistment before being discharged honorably. “I learned a lot about character during my time in the military, which I believe will be useful in my future medical career.”

Guinn was finally ready to take everything he’d learned and get back to work pursuing his original dream of a medical degree. He was accepted into the VCU School of Medicine in 2015. But after years away from the classroom, he faced the challenges of not only returning to school as a nontraditional student but also affording an expensive medical degree.

Relief came via the Stephen C. and Marie F. Cenedella Endowed Scholarship, a renewable award that Guinn has received both of his years at VCU.

“When you think about the costs – tuition, books, even living expenses – it all adds up,” Guinn says. He also receives help through military benefits and says every bit helps. “The financial benefit of the scholarship has been great, but it’s also a confidence-booster. It means a lot when someone shows that they support you and believe in your success.”

Awarded annually to students in the VCU School of Medicine based on both merit and need, the Cenedella Scholarship was established with a gift of $125,000 from Stephen C. Cenedella, M’68, and his late wife, Marie, and 1967 alumna of the School of Allied Health, in December 2005.

Stephen Cenedella and his late wife, Marie, pictured in 2006.Stephen Cenedella and his late wife, Marie, pictured in 2006.

Cenedella still talks with gratitude about the scholarship he received during his time on the MCV Campus. By the end of his third year in medical school, he had accumulated 14 student loans. The scholarship he received covered the full tuition cost for his final year.

“I’ll never forget how relieved I felt to have that last year paid for,” Cenedella says. “I always knew I wanted to pay it forward.”

Cenedella hopes his support will help medical students pursue their passion without being discouraged by the financial burden.

“My advice for them is to follow their heart and never forget why they wanted to become doctors: to help others,” says Cenedella, who has seen more than 200,000 patients since his career in family medicine began in 1972.

In November 2016, Cenedella made arrangements to give an additional $100,000 to the scholarship fund through his individual retirement account. With this additional gift Cenedella is contributing to the School of Medicine’s 1838 Campaign, which aims to recruit and reward top students and to reduce student debt.

Planned giving via an IRA charitable rollover

The federal government made permanent a tax law that makes it more appealing for some donors to use IRA funds to support VCU.

IRA owners older than 70 1/2 are required to begin taking annual minimum distributions. Recent legislation allows these individuals to make a distribution of up to $100,000 from their IRA directly to an eligible charitable organization, tax-free. This can satisy the required minimum distribution amount from their income, resulting in lower taxable income regardless of whether they itemize deductions.

Peter F. Buckley, M.D., dean of the VCU School of Medicine, says the campaign is a way to level the playing field for all students. When the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, the accrediting body for medical schools in the U.S., visited VCU last year, they gave the School of Medicine high marks and a full eight-year re-accreditation. In their review, they paid special attention to the level of educational debt students carry, which is an issue nationwide.

“The accreditors were glad to see that we’ve launched the 1838 Scholarship Campaign to build an endowment that’s on par with our peer schools,” Buckley says. “Combined with tightly limiting tuition increases, it’s our approach to helping talented and compassionate students fulfill their dream of becoming physicians – regardless of their families’ financial resources. We’re enormously grateful to Dr. Cenedella for his partnership in that goal.”

Guinn is on track to graduate from the School of Medicine in 2019. He has maintained his passion for emergency care and still experiences the same rush of adrenaline that inspired him to pursue it as a career.

In a letter of thanks to Cenedella, Guinn explained that although his path to medicine was not as direct as he’d imagined, he believed his experience would help make him a better doctor.

“While I have not taken the traditional path to medicine, I have learned and grown so much more through my alternative route,” he wrote. “I plan to remain a creative, outside-the-box thinker who is not afraid to take the road less traveled.”

By Brelyn Powell


Alumni star M’99 Eduardo Rodriguez inspires the next generation

It was front-page news out of NYU Langone Health in August 2015. In a 26-hour operation, the face of a 26-year-old bike mechanic who was declared brain-dead after a cycling crash was transplanted onto a 41-year-old former firefighter who was severely burned in the line of duty.

Eduardo D. Rodriguez, M'99 (center) with the Class of 2019's Diana Otoya and the Class of 2020's Frank Soto at the 2017 Alumni Stars Ceremony.Eduardo D. Rodriguez, M’99 (center) with the Class of 2019’s Diana Otoya and the Class of 2020’s Frank Soto at the 2017 Alumni Stars Ceremony. Photo credit: Jay Paul.

Leading the team that performed the most extensive facial transplant ever was M’99 Eduardo D. Rodriguez, M.D., D.D.S., the Helen L. Kimmel Professor of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery and chair of the Hansjörg Wyss Department of Plastic Surgery at NYU Langone. The painstakingly delicate surgery was a resounding success.

Becoming a leader in facial transplantation, Rodriguez says, wasn’t an anticipated career goal.

“However, I’ve always had an interest in finding solutions to difficult problems, and this pursuit has led me to the position in which I currently reside,” he says.

Rodriguez recently returned to Richmond to be honored at the 2017 Alumni Stars ceremony, a biennial event that celebrates alumni from across the university’s academic units for their extraordinary personal and professional achievements. During the event, Rodriguez met the Class of 2019’s Diana Otoya, who says she was encouraged by Rodriguez’s non-traditional path to medical school.

“I confessed to him I didn’t really know what I wanted to do yet,” Otoya says. “He made me feel comforted by his own story about starting in dentistry before even thinking about medical school. He gave me reassurance that there is no path that is set in stone and that our careers are fluid.”

Rodriguez and his team at NYU Langone are planning for future reconstructive procedures while expanding the face transplant program’s clinical, research and education/training efforts.

“Clinical efforts will focus on patient selection and achieving the most optimal aesthetic and functional results,” he says. “Research efforts are focused on improving immune surveillance and designing patient-specific targeted immune therapies to lessen drug toxicity without increasing risk of transplant rejection.”

Peter F. Buckley, M.D., dean of the VCU School of Medicine, praised Rodriguez’s work. “He brings hope to patients in the most difficult of circumstances and I have no doubt he will continue to transform countless lives,” Buckley says. “I’m proud to see him receive this alumni honor and grateful we can call him one of our own.”

Rodriguez, the son of Cuban immigrants, was born and raised in Miami. His road to VCU began with undergraduate education at the University of Florida followed by a dental degree from NYU College of Dentistry. He completed a residency in oral and maxillofacial surgery at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine before enrolling at VCU, where he earned his medical degree in 1999.

“I was fortunate to have been part of a newly designed education curriculum there and certainly received the best medical education at VCU,” he says.

In addition to pioneering clinical achievements, Rodriguez has written more than 130 articles and 21 book chapters. He is a member of numerous national and international professional societies, and he was the Dawson Theogaraj visiting professor in plastic surgery on VCU’s MCV Campus in 2016.

Rodriguez is quick to share credit for his accomplishments and accolades.

“I am lucky to have been mentored by remarkable individuals, and along the way, I have worked hard but have enjoyed every moment,” he says. “I have learned from the most challenging moments, and that is why one must always look forward and never give up.


Hepatologist Arun Sanyal Honored as 2017 Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award Winner Recipient

Housestaff alumnus Arun Sanyal, M.D., now on faculty with the medical school, received the 2017 Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award from the American Liver Foundation.

Housestaff alumnus Arun Sanyal, M.D., now on faculty with the medical school, received the 2017 Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award from the American Liver Foundation.

Arun J. Sanyal, M.D., has been honored by the American Liver Foundation with its 2017 Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award. The award was presented on Oct. 23 at an ALF reception in Washington, D.C.

Continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health for more than 25 years, his research has spanned the spectrum of translational science from basic discovery to first-in-humans and advanced phase clinical trials as well as regulatory aspects of drug development.

“Dr. Sanyal’s record of achievement is remarkable both for its longevity and also for its scope,” says Peter F. Buckley, M.D., dean of the VCU School of Medicine. “I am proud to see him receive this latest honor, which is an endorsement of the translational value that his work carries for patients with liver disease – both now and into the future.”

Sanyal’s work has focused on end stage liver disease and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis for over 20 years. More recently, he has led several efforts in the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism-funded TREAT consortium that is investigating the pathophysiology and management of alcoholic hepatitis. He recently established the Liver Forum, which provides a neutral platform for the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, the European Medicines Agency and other stakeholders in fatty liver disorders to work collaboratively on the regulatory science required to accelerate drug development in liver disease.

Internationally recognized for his contributions to the understanding of the science and clinical implications of non-alcoholic liver disease, he has created a proprietary mouse strain to test potential therapeutics to treat the disease, which has become a leading cause of liver-related mortality.

Sanyal is a professor of internal medicine, physiology and pathology at VCU School of Medicine and completed his gastroenterology and hepatology fellowship training on VCU’s MCV Campus in 1990.

The American Liver Foundation was created in 1976 by the American Association for the Study of Liver Disease to facilitate, advocate and promote education, support and research for the prevention, treatment and cure of liver disease.

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Updated: 04/29/2016