U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

NIDDK Grantee Dr. Thomas E. Starzl Wins 2012 Lasker Award

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Dr. Thomas E. Starzl (left), winner of a 2012 Lasker award for his pioneering efforts in organ transplantation, is congratulated by NIDDK Director Dr. Griffin P. Rodgers (right) at the Lasker Awards ceremony on September 21, 2012. Photo credit: Ellen Jaffe​​
Dr. Thomas E. Starzl, Distinguished Service Professor of Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and a long-time NIDDK grantee, received the 2012 Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award—shared with Dr. Roy Calne, University of Cambridge emeritus—for his work developing liver transplantation, an intervention that has restored normal life to thousands of people with end-stage liver disease.

Lasker awards are given for major advances in the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, cure, and prevention of human disease. Dr. Starzl performed the first human liver transplant. In addition to being a long-time NIDDK grantee, he is also a former NIDDK Method to Extend Research in Time (MERIT) awardee and has served on the NIDDK Digestive Diseases Advisory Board. He also earned a 2004 National Medal of Science.

“Dr. Starzl is a pioneer in the world of transplantation, and his work has saved thousands of lives,” said NIDDK Director Dr. Griffin P. Rodgers. “This award is a most fitting recognition of his many years of unwavering commitment to teaching, research, and clinical practice.” 

Receiving the award on September 21, 2012, Dr. Starzl said, “Transplantation services are not provided by single individuals. The team is what counts, and it is on behalf of my research and clinical teams—first in Denver and then in Pittsburgh—that I accept this prize. And by the way, the prize could have gone to one of those courageous kidney, liver, or heart recipients who faced the great unknown in the early years and chose to run the uncharted gauntlet of transplantation instead of giving up.