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Department of Internal Medicine

Department of Internal Medicine

Transplant Research Program

The Transplant Research Program was established at the UC Davis Medical Center in 1999. Mark A. Zern, M.D., Professor of Medicine, and the Fred and Pat Anderson Family Professor of Transplant Research is the director of the program, which is part of the Transplant Medicine Section in the Department of Internal Medicine. The research team of the program is the major force in advancing organ and cell transplantation research at UC Davis. The research program consists of an interactive group of basic and clinical investigators from the departments of Internal Medicine and Surgery whose research and clinical interests include the clinical fields of gastroenterology and hepatology, nephrology, and transplant medicine. The investigators have strong collaborative interactions with basic scientists throughout UC Davis, as well as with scientists from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and numerous other national and international laboratories.

A relatively small number of people receive an organ transplant each year. They are at the tip of a pyramid, because a larger number need a transplantation. A much greater number of people could benefit from new research strategies which are not only directed at improving the transplantation process, but are also aimed at treating the disease that ultimately could progress to a level that might require transplantation. At the University of California, Davis Health System , the Transplant Research Program is creating solutions to improve the transplant process and to develop novel therapeutic strategies that will markedly decrease the need for organ transplants as we now know them. To accelerate these developments, UC Davis Health System has entered into a Bioengineering Research Partnership with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The purpose of the partnership is to access the expertise of two major research and development institutions to bring state-of-the-art technologies to address the clinical problems posed in transplantation medicine.

This is a multi-layered interaction that will focus on key challenges for the ultimate development of bio-artificial organs and other technologies involving the liver, kidney, and pancreas. The project will bring together medical scientists and clinicians, biologists, applied physicists, computer modelers, chemists, and material scientists in a multi-disciplinary team. By attacking problems common to the liver, kidneys, and pancreas, the program will encourage collaboration between researchers who would not normally work together. This approach will allow the formation of the critical mass of talent and resources required to achieve the proposed goals.

To fulfill our vision of becoming a world leader in the multi-disciplinary application of both clinical and basic research in organ transplantation science, the Transplant Research Program needs to add significantly to its resources. While the need is undoubtedly compelling, solutions such as the ones proposed may be too bold at this stage of development to be funded by the National Institutes of Health. To move quickly forward with the proposed projects requires the commitment and financial support that can best come from private foundations or individuals. To aid in this process, a group of California citizens have formed the Transplant Hope Executive Board of Advisors. Their work has been instrumental in raising more than $2 million from individuals and foundations to aid in the research endeavor.

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