In this series, I am recommending to you a few life stories about real scientists. I prefer to let these scientists tell their own stories where possible. Autobiographical accounts are interesting and entertaining for both non-scientists and other scientists. My selections here mostly involve scientists I either know personally or at least know about. If further materials like this are needed, they can be obtained readily on the internet or with input from librarians at public or university libraries, science teachers, and other scientists. In the preceding segment of this series, the story of a very creative and individualistic research scientist working in Chemistry & Biochemistry was recommended (see “Scientists Tell Us About Their Life and Work, Part 5”). Part 6 presents the dramatic story of a dynamic clinical researcher in surgical science, who pioneered in human organ transplantation and who now works on basic research studies of immunology.
Part 6 Recommendations: TRANSPLANT SURGERY & IMMUNOLOGY
Prof. Thomas E. Starzl (1926 – present) developed the complex experimental procedures for human liver transplantation into a practical clinical treatment for human patients with liver failure. His vigorous research efforts for transplantation of livers involved clinical practice with very endangered infant and adult patients, development of new technical procedures and surgical protocols, innovations of adjunctive manipulations in clinical immunology (i.e., therapeutic immuno-suppression), and logistical coordination of the several different clinical teams involved with each transplant surgery. This long clinical development followed his preceding surgical career involving the transplantation of several other human organs. Following his retirement from clinical surgery in 1991, Prof. Starzl turned his research attention to basic laboratory experiments on the immune system; this switch reflects his strong belief in bidirectional interchanges between the clinical hospital and research laboratories. It is nothing less than astounding that he has authored several thousands of research publications during his long academic career and continues this blistering pace today. The University of Pittsburgh has named a research building on their clinical campus as the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute. Dr. Starzl has received many awards and prestigious honors, including the Medawar Prize (1992), the USA National Medal of Science (2004), and the Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award (2012).
Much information about this giant in surgical science can be found at The Official Thomas E. Starzl Website ( http://www.starzl.pitt.edu/ ). My first recommendation is an illustrated story about his personal life and professional activities. The second gives a clear exposition about what happens when an entire human organ is transplanted. My third recommendation presents his account about the development of liver transplantation into a successful surgical treatment for end-stage liver disease, and is well-suited for general adult readers. The fourth recommendation is a truly wonderful video showing the very long research process needed to develop modern liver transplantation, and demonstrating how this surgical advance now greatly benefits clinical patients.
(1) The Official Thomas E. Starzl Website, 2014. About Thomas E Starzl, M. D., Ph. D. Available on the internet at: http://www.starzl.pitt.edu/about/starzl.html .
(2) The Official Thomas E. Starzl Website, 2014. Statement of impact. Available on the internet at: http://www.starzl.pitt.edu/impact/impact.html .
(3) Strauss, E., 2012. Award description for the Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award. Available on the internet at: http://www.laskerfoundation.org/awards/2012_c_description.htm .
(4) Lasker Foundation, 2012. An interview with Thomas E. Starzl. Available on the internet at: http://www.laskerfoundation.org/awards/2012_c_interview_starzl.htm .
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