July 19, 2002

WORCESTER, Mass.—Giacomo Basadonna, MD, PhD, a world-renowned transplant surgeon, has been named director of organ transplantation services for UMass Memorial Medical Center.  Recruited from Yale-New Haven Medical Center and its academic partner, Yale University Medical School, Basadonna has also been appointed professor of surgery at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS).  He will oversee pancreas, kidney, liver, and islet cell transplantation programs.

Dr. Basadonna’s appointment, effective August 1, was announced today by Marianne E. Felice, MD, interim CEO for UMass Memorial, and Dana K. Andersen, MD, chief of surgery for UMass Memorial and chair of the Department of Surgery at UMMS.

“We are delighted to welcome Dr. Basadonna to UMass Memorial.  His experience as the pre-eminent pancreas surgeon in New England complements the expertise of Dr. Rossini and many others here,” said Andersen, referring to Aldo A. Rossini, MD, chief of the hospital’s Division of Diabetes and the William and Doris Krupp Professor of Medicine at UMMS.  “With Dr. Basadonna we will provide state-of-the-art care for patients with diabetes.  His leadership of the division of organ transplantation will expand the availability of these services for people throughout the entire region.”

During Basadonna’s tenure at Yale, the adult liver, kidney and pancreas transplantation programs were designated a Center of Excellence by Aetna/US Healthcare National Medical Excellence Program, an indicator of quality of care and clinical outcomes.  More than 725 transplants—liver, kidney, and pancreas—have been performed at Yale in the past decade.

UMass Memorial Medical Center, the region’s largest tertiary care provider, has been transplanting kidneys since 1987 and, in December 1998, the hospital’s surgeons began performing laparoscopic nephrectomy, using tiny incisions and robotic tools to remove kidneys from healthy adults for donation.  The procedure helped minimize a significant obstacle to kidney donation and transplantation by reducing the donor’s usual recovery period from eight weeks to just two.

In addition, UMass Memorial began liver transplantation in January 1998 and has provided some 60 Central Massachusetts residents with new livers. In May 1999 the hospital’s surgeons performed the region’s first adult living-donor liver transplant operation, in which just half of the living donor’s liver is removed for transplant into the recipient; both the remaining portion and the donated portion of the liver quickly re-grow to full size and function.

Basadonna will be instrumental in UMass Memorial’s pancreas transplantation program and, with Rossini, will direct the new Islet Cell Transplantation Program.  Rossini’s team recently began performing islet cell transplantation as part of the Edmonton Protocol, an important multi-center clinical trial of a procedure to infuse insulin-producing islet cells from donor pancreases into Type 1 diabetics. Thus far, the two patients transplanted have greatly reduced their dependence on insulin and doctors expect that an additional infusion may eliminate their insulin needs altogether. 

“I was drawn to UMass Memorial because of the great opportunities available here in both experimental and clinical transplantation,” said Basadonna. “I believe that UMass Memorial can grow and establish itself as a leading force in organ transplantation in the Northeast.  We are planning to expand the already existing programs in kidney, pancreas, liver, and islet cell transplantation, and begin a new program in intestinal transplantation, which is not currently in existence in New England,” Basadonna noted.  “We also look forward to creating novel research avenues, particularly in the area of diabetes, contributing to the discovery of a permanent cure for this terrible disease.”

A native of Milan, Italy, Basadonna gained much of his medical education and began his medical career at the University of Milan, where he earned his medical degree in 1982 and served his internship in surgery, at the University’s Policlinico Hospital.  He also trained in general surgery for five years and earned a PhD at the University, later becoming an instructor in surgery and associate director of pancreas transplantation surgery.  Basadonna completed five years of research fellowships at Stanford University in California and the University of Texas. He completed a clinical fellowship in transplant immunology at the University of Minnesota in 1992. 

That year, Basadonna was tapped to be chief of pancreas transplantation and assistant professor at the University of California-Davis Medical Center in Sacramento.  Two years later he became associate professor of surgery and chief of pancreas transplantation at Yale University School of Medicine and Yale-New Haven Medical Center, attaining the rank of full professor in 2000 with tenure and expanding his clinical oversight to include islet transplantation as well.

Basadonna’s publications include more than 50 peer-reviewed journal articles and more than 60 abstracts, as well as eight book chapters on surgery, diabetes therapy and transplant immunology. He has made nearly 70 presentations focusing on topics ranging from pancreas and kidney transplantation to post-transplant immunosuppression and diabetes therapy.  He has garnered approximately $1.4 million in research grants and is currently an established investigator, receiving funds from the National Institutes of Health and the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation.

Basadonna, whose clinical interests focus on pancreatic and renal transplantation, is editor of several journals including both Transplantation and the American Journal of Transplantation, and is currently associate editor of New Surgery, a journal on the molecular mechanisms of surgical disease and new technology in surgery.  Basadonna is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and belongs to more than a dozen professional societies, including the Society of University Surgeons, the Transplantation Society, the New England Surgical Society, the American Diabetes Association, for which he is a former board member, the American Society of Transplant Surgeons, for which he is chair of the Scientific Studies Committee, and the American Society of Transplantation, for which he is currently chair of the Cellular transplantation Committee. He is also a regional representative to the Kidney/Pancreas Committee of the United Network of Organ Sharing, the nonprofit organization that maintains the nation’s organ transplant waiting lists, per the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  Basadonna is currently serving as Assistant Medical Director of the New England Organ Bank, as well.  He has served in several review and special emphasis panels for the NIH and is a permanent member of the Islet Cell Resource project and steering committee of the NIH-National Center for Research Resources.

UMass Memorial Health Care is Central Massachusetts’ largest not-for-profit health care delivery system, covering the complete health care continuum with teaching hospitals, affiliated community hospitals, freestanding primary care practices, ambulatory outpatient clinics, long-term care facilities, home health agencies, hospice programs, a rehabilitation group and mental health services.

The University of Massachusetts Medical School is one of the fastest growing medical schools in the country, attracting more than $131million in research funding annually.  A perennial top ten finisher in the annual US News & World Report ranking of primary care medical schools, UMMS comprises a medical school, graduate school of nursing, graduate school of biomedical sciences and an active research enterprise, and is a leader in health sciences education, research and public service.

Mark L. Shelton, 508-856-2000