Multi-organ transplantation expert to arrive October 1

September 9, 2002

WORCESTER, Mass.— Marc Uknis, MD, a multi-organ transplantation surgeon and an expert in post-transplant viral infection, will join UMass Memorial Medical Center’s division of transplantation October 1. Recruited from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) in Boston, Uknis is a widely known and highly respected surgeon skilled in liver, kidney and pancreas transplantation. Uknis will hold an academic appointment at the University of Massachusetts Medical School as well.

“Marc Uknis is an excellent addition to a growing division of top-notch transplant surgeons,” said Dana K. Andersen, professor and chair of the department of surgery. “Along with his surgical skills, his expertise in prevention and management of post-transplant infection will be exceptionally valuable to patients and to our research as well.”

Uknis will work closely with Giacomo Basadonna, director of UMass Memorial’s division of transplantation, and Luca Cicalese, MD, who was recently recruited from the University of Illinois at Chicago to direct the liver transplantation program.

Uknis is widely regarded as an expert in post-transplant viral infections, in particular CMV,  and has researched the immunotherapy of sepsis, a potentially deadly complication of organ transplantation.  He received his medical degree in 1990 from Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, and served a research fellowship in transplant immunopathology at the University of Pittsburgh.  Uknis served both his internship and residency in general surgery at the University of Minnesota Hospitals and Clinic, where he was also chief resident in general surgery and a fellow in transplant surgery and surgical infectious disease.  In 2000, Uknis joined Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), and became an instructor in surgery and later assistant professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School.

While at BIDMC, Uknis was a leader in kidney, liver, and pancreas transplantation. In addition to participating in the liver transplant program, he became one of the key figures in pancreas transplantation in New England. He developed the first “pancreas transplant alone” list in Massachusetts for transplantation of the pancreas in diabetics who have yet to develop end-stage kidney failure.  Most diabetics receive both kidney and pancreas transplant simultaneously; however, transplantation of the pancreas alone, if done early enough, can prevent kidney damage and eliminate the need for a kidney transplant.  Uknis also participated in the hepatobiliary surgery program at BIDMC and served as an on-call trauma surgeon and was a staff transplant surgeon at Children’s Hospital in Boston.  He is the author of articles in numerous medical journals including Transplantation, Surgical Infections, Surgical Research, and Surgery.

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.

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