UMass Memorial Recruits Transplantation Surgeon

Multi-organ specialist to direct liver transplant program, expand other areas

September 5, 2002

WORCESTER, Mass.—UMass Memorial Medical Center officials announced today that Luca Cicalese, MD, a recognized leader in liver, kidney, pancreas and small bowel transplantation, will join the department of surgery September 15 as the hospital continues its aggressive expansion of surgical services, particularly in organ transplantation.  Cicalese will also hold an academic appointment with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.  Cicalese will not only direct the liver transplant program, he will also establish and direct the only adult and pediatric small bowel transplantation program in New England. 

“Luca Cicalese is an outstanding complement to the department,” said Dana K. Andersen, professor and chair of the department of surgery.  “With our existing staff and new recruits of Dr. Cicalese’s caliber, UMass Memorial will be the preferred center for multi-organ transplant for both adults and children throughout the region.”

Under Cicalese’s direction, UMass Memorial will resume liver transplantation, which the hospital temporarily suspended three weeks ago upon the departure of its previous liver transplant surgeon.  The program itself has continued to monitor and manage the care of more than 160 patients in various stages of liver disease, both pre- and post-transplant.

“Dr. Cicalese complements our program in a crucial way,” said Giacomo Basadonna, MD, who, as director of transplantation, oversees the programs of liver, kidney pancreas and cellular transplantation for the 761-bed teaching hospital.  “Small bowel and intestine transplant is something few centers—none of which are in New England—can offer.” Basadonna said that currently pediatric transplant patients must travel to Nebraska, Miami or Pittsburgh for small bowel or intestine transplantation, procedures necessitated most commonly because of congenital defects or trauma.

Cicalese, director of the pediatric liver transplant program at the University of Illinois at Chicago, is internationally recognized as a leader in liver and intestinal transplantation.  He received his medical degree from the University of Rome in 1990, followed by a five-year residency in general surgery.  He served a three-year research fellowship in surgery at the University of Pittsburgh and became a clinical fellow in transplant surgery at the University’s T.E. Starzl Transplantation Institute under the supervision of Drs. Starzl and John Fung; Cicalese later became an instructor of surgery at the same institution.  He joined the division of transplant surgery at UIC in 1999 as associate professor of surgery, earning the rank of professor in 2001. Cicalese will conduct research at UMass Medical School and will expand the university’s surgical training and research program.

The hospital has been actively recruiting transplantation surgeons since the arrival of Dr. Andersen in December as the chair of surgery in December 2001.  “We are expanding all our programs in solid organ transplantation,” said Andersen. “This hospital is fully committed to and capable of being a world-class transplant institution, offering state-of-the-art care for patients of the region and beyond.” 

Since 1997, UMass Memorial has provided 298 transplants: 203 kidney, 18 pancreas, 3 kidney/pancreas, and 69 livers.  The cardiac transplantation program, which is currently on hiatus while additional surgeons are recruited, performed five transplants in its first year.  In addition, UMass Memorial has recently begun islet cell transplantation, providing insulin-producing cells to two patients this summer to control or eliminate their diabetes.

“I’ve heard it from the people who have been here for decades and from the people who’ve just been recruited to UMass Medical School and UMass Memorial, and I’ve said it myself,” said Basadonna: “This is an exciting time to be here.”

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.  UMass Memorial is the clinical partner of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, one of the fastest growing medical schools in the country, attracting more than $131 million 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.

Alison Duffy, 508-856-2000