Explore Research Innovation at the David Geffen School of Medicine
Transplantation science has soared in the last century. Surgeons use advanced techniques to give patients functional limbs and organs. Unfortunately, watertight surgical procedures do not guarantee long-term transplant success because patients' immune systems sometimes attack donated organs, leading to rejection and injury.
Meanwhile, we don't have enough organs to go around. Transplant rejection or injury often necessitates second transplants, compounding the organ shortage by putting patients back on the waiting list.
UCLA Immunity, Inflammation, Infection, & Transplantation (I3T) scientists believe we can improve the field of transplantation by increasing organ donations, using more donated organs, and making organs last longer.
What if we could make organs last longer?
Imagine how many more patients could live longer, healthier lives if we could find novel techniques to stop organ injury. Consider how much we could shorten the organ waiting list if we could find ways to use sub-par organs instead of discarding them. Patients could enjoy normal day-to-day lives if we could come up with advanced strategies for combating rejection without using harsh immunosuppressive drugs.
Using advanced investigative techniques and science-backed strategies, I3T scientists develop solutions to the biggest problems facing transplantation today. They hope for a day when we can help patients keep transplants for life.
Dr. Amy Waterman investigates the patient and systemic factors influencing kidney transplant rates. She develops outreach and intervention materials and strategies to help recipients and donors make the best-possible decisions about transplantation.
Dr. Elaine Reed redirected the path of transplant rejection research when she established that chronic rejection results from an antibody-mediated immune response—not the cell-mediated immune response most researchers were studying.
Dr. Jerzy Kupiec-Weglinksi's work improves the outcomes of liver transplantation. He examines the molecular signaling pathways leading to liver injury throughout the transplant continuum—from donor retrieval to long-term recipient care.
Dr. Kodi Azari's composite-tissue transplants give patients functional limbs. His surgical team completed the first double hand transplantation and the first arm transplantation performed in the United States.