Thomas Starzl

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Thomas Starzl

Dr. Thomas Starzl after surgery, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, c. 1990.jpg
Thomas Starzl after performing a transplant surgery circa 1990
Thomas Earl Starzl

(1926-03-11)March 11, 1926
DiedMarch 4, 2017(2017-03-04) (aged 90)
Residence Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Nationality American
Alma materBA, Westminster College, 1947
MD, Northwestern University, 1952
PhD, Northwestern University, 1952
Known forPerformed the first human liver transplant in 1963
Developed the clinical applications of cyclosporin
Contributed to the field of immunosuppression
Scientific career
Fields Transplantation surgery,
Institutions University of Pittsburgh

Thomas Earl Starzl (March 11, 1926 – March 4, 2017) was an American physician, researcher, and expert on organ transplants. He performed the first human liver transplants, and has often been referred to as "the father of modern transplantation." [1]

Health care in the United States is provided by many distinct organizations. Health care facilities are largely owned and operated by private sector businesses. 58% of US community hospitals are non-profit, 21% are government owned, and 21% are for-profit. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the United States spent $9,403 on health care per capita, and 17.1% on health care as percentage of its GDP in 2014. Healthcare coverage is provided through a combination of private health insurance and public health coverage. The United States does not have a universal healthcare program, unlike other advanced industrialized countries.

Medical research research

Biomedical research encompasses a wide array of research, extending from "basic research", – involving fundamental scientific principles that may apply to a preclinical understanding – to clinical research, which involves studies of people who may be subjects in clinical trials. Within this spectrum is applied research, or translational research, conducted to expand knowledge in the field of medicine.



Early years

Starzl was born on March 11, 1926, in Le Mars, Iowa, the son of newspaper editor and science fiction writer Roman Frederick Starzl and Anna Laura Fitzgerald who was a teacher and a nurse. He was the second of four siblings. [2] Originally intending to become a priest in his teenage years, Starzl changed his plans drastically when his mother died from breast cancer in 1947. [2]

Le Mars, Iowa City in Iowa, United States

Le Mars is a city in and the county seat of Plymouth County, Iowa, United States. It is located on the Floyd River and is northeast of Sioux City. The population was 9,826 at the 2010 census.

Roman Frederick Starzl American writer

Roman Frederick Starzl (1899–1976) was an American author. He, and earlier, his father, owned the Le Mars Globe-Post newspaper of Le Mars, Iowa. Roman Frederick was also the father of physician Thomas E. Starzl. His writing is largely forgotten now, but he was called a "master" by the pioneer of space opera E. E. Smith. Starzl's Interplanetary Flying Patrol, in The Hornets of Space, may have influenced Smith's Galactic Patrol. There is an extensive interview with Thomas Starzl about his father in Eric Leif Davin's Pioneers of Wonder.

Priest person authorized to lead the sacred rituals of a religion (for a minister use Q1423891)

A priest or priestess is a religious leader authorized to perform the sacred rituals of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and one or more deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities. Their office or position is the priesthood, a term which also may apply to such persons collectively.


He attended Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology. Starzl attended Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago, where in 1950 he received a Master of Science degree in anatomy and in 1952 earned both a Ph.D. in neurophysiology and an M.D. with distinction. [3] While attending medical school, he established a long friendship with Professor Loyal Davis, MD, a neurosurgeon (whose wife Edith Luckett Davis's daughter from her first marriage was Nancy Reagan [2] ).

Fulton, Missouri City in Missouri, United States

Fulton is the largest city in and the county seat of Callaway County, Missouri, United States. Approximately 22 miles (35 km) northeast of Jefferson City and the Missouri River and 20 miles (32 km) east of Columbia, the city is part of the Jefferson City, Missouri Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 12,790 in the 2010 census. The city is home to two universities, Westminster College and William Woods University, the Missouri School for the Deaf, the Fulton State Hospital, and Fulton Reception and Diagnostic Center.

A Bachelor of Science is an undergraduate academic degree awarded for completed courses that generally last three to five years, or a person holding such a degree.

An academic degree is a qualification awarded to students upon successful completion of a course of study in higher education, usually at a college or university. These institutions commonly offer degrees at various levels, usually including bachelor's, master’s and doctorates, often alongside other academic certificates and professional degrees. The most common undergraduate degree is the bachelor's degree, although in some countries lower qualifications are titled degrees while in others a higher-level first degree is more usual.

Starzl spent an extra year at medical school, using the additional time to complete a doctorate in neurophysiology, in 1952. He wrote a seminal paper describing a technique to record the electrical responses of deep brain structures to sensory stimuli such as a flash of light or a loud sound. The paper is highly cited, having been referenced in 384 articles by January 2019. [4]

Neurophysiology is a branch of physiology and neuroscience that is concerned with the study of the functioning of the nervous system. The primary tools of basic neurophysiological research include electrophysiological recordings, such as patch clamp, voltage clamp, extracellular single-unit recording and recording of local field potentials, as well as some of the methods of calcium imaging, optogenetics, and molecular biology.

In 1959, he gained a Markle scholarship. [5]

After obtaining his medical degree, Starzl trained in surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. At both places, he conducted lab and animal research, showing a keen interest in liver biology.[ citation needed ]


Starzl was a surgeon and researcher in the then nascent field of organ transplantation at the University of Colorado from 1962 until his move to the University of Pittsburgh in 1981.

University of Pittsburgh American state-related research university located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The University of Pittsburgh is a state-related research university in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was founded as the Pittsburgh Academy in 1787 on the edge of the American frontier. It developed and was renamed as Western University of Pennsylvania by a change to its charter in 1819. After surviving two devastating fires and various relocations within the area, the school moved to its current location in the Oakland neighborhood of the city; it was renamed as the University of Pittsburgh in 1908. Pitt was a private institution until 1966 when it became part of the Commonwealth System of Higher Education.

The Institute for Scientific Information released information in 1999 that documented that his work had been cited more than any other researcher in the world. Between 1981 and June 1998, he was cited 26,456 times. [2]

His autobiographical memoir, The Puzzle People, was named by The Wall Street Journal as the third best book on doctors' lives. [6]

Starzl's most notable accomplishments include:

Awards and honors


Thomas E. Starzl Way on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh ThomasEStarzlWayPittsburgh.jpg
Thomas E. Starzl Way on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh
Entrance to the Thomas Starzl Biomedical Research Tower at the University of Pittsburgh. ThomasE.StarzlBiomedicalScienceTowerPitt.jpg
Entrance to the Thomas Starzl Biomedical Research Tower at the University of Pittsburgh.

Starzl was named one of the most important people of the Millennium, ranking No. 213, according to the authors of "1,000 Years, 1,000 People: Ranking the Men and Women Who Shaped the Millennium " (Kodansha America, 332 pp.)

Starzl has also received honorary degrees from 26 universities in the United States and abroad, which include 12 in Science, 11 in Medicine, 2 in Humane Letters, and 1 in Law.[ citation needed ]

In 2006, at a celebration for his 80th birthday, the University of Pittsburgh renamed one of its newest medical research buildings the Thomas E. Starzl Biomedical Science Tower in recognition of his achievements and contributions to the field. [22] On October 15, 2007, the Western Pennsylvania American Liver Foundation and the City of Pittsburgh honored Starzl by dedicating Lothrop Street, near his office and the biomedical research tower bearing his name, as "Thomas E. Starzl Way". [23]

A statue honoring Starzl was unveiled on June 24, 2018 on the University of Pittsburgh campus near the school's Cathedral of Learning. [24]



Having retired from clinical and surgical service since 1991, Starzl devoted his time to research endeavors and remained active as professor of surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s (UPMC) program named in his honor: the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute. Since his “retirement,” he earned the additional distinctions of being one of the most prolific scientists in the world as well as the most cited scientist in the field of clinical medicine. [26]

See also

Related Research Articles

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  1. 1 2 Cronin, Mike (2010-01-29). "Starzl, Tribune-Review reporters claim Carnegie Science Awards". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Archived from the original on 2010-01-30. Retrieved 2010-01-29.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Srikameswaran, Anita (June 11, 2000). "Pioneer without peer: The Starzl Story". Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Pittsburgh. Retrieved September 11, 2015.
  3. Starzl, Thomas (1992). The Puzzle People: Memoirs of a Transplant Surgeon. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press. ISBN   978-0-8229-3714-2.
  4. Starzl TE, Taylor CW, Magoun HW. Collateral Afferent Excitation of Reticular Formation of Brain Stem. Journal of Neurophysiology, Nov 1951
  5. Fung, J. J. (2017). "Obituary of Thomas E. Starzl, MD, PhD". American Journal of Transplantation. 17 (5): 1153–1155. doi:10.1111/ajt.14267. ISSN   1600-6143. PMID   28296155.
  6. Verghese, Abraham (2010-07-10). "Five Best". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2010-07-31.
  7. Milestones in Organ Transplantation National Kidney Foundation
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  9. New York Times. February 20, 1990. New Liver for Stormie Jones. Retrieved on July 2, 2007.
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  12. "Home » Hepatitis B Foundation". Archived from the original on 2014-03-30.
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  18. "Professor Thomas Starzl — King Faisal International Prize".
  19. "TTS — TTS".
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  21. "David M. Hume Memorial Award". National Kidney Foundation Web site. National Kidney Foundation. Archived from the original on 28 July 2011. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
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