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November 2014

We wish you and your family a warm and happy Thanksgiving!

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Emory Transplant Center

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Emory Transplant Welcomes Senior Administrator

Chris DiMottaEmory Transplant Center Executive Director Dr. Thomas Pearson and Executive Administrator Kevin Clark have named Christopher (Chris) DiMotta as ETC senior administrator effective Nov. 1. DiMotta will work directly with Clark, who has assumed additional responsibilities at the School of Medicine and is executive administrator of Emory's Brain Health Initiative.

DiMotta comes to the ETC from Monmouth Medical Center of Barnabas Health System in Long Branch, NJ, where he was administrative director of radiology and imaging services for three years. Previously, he served as chief radiology technologist and radiology manager at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Basking Ridge, NJ. A native of Park Ridge, NJ, DiMotta has a BS degree in biology from Southampton College of Long Island University in Southampton, NY and an MBA from Regis University in Denver, Colo. He first came to Atlanta in 1995 when he started his career in management with Mattel and CareerBuilder.

In 2003, DiMotta's career took a radical turn. "I recognized the for-profit sector was a mismatch for my personal interests and looked to the health care sector as providing a more purpose-driven life," he says. He went on to receive radiologic technology certification from Grady Health System. He has additional certification in nuclear medicine from Rhode Island Hospital School of Diagnostic Imaging in Providence. He moved back to the Garden State in 2006.

"My decision to return to Atlanta was largely determined by the opportunity to work at Emory — it's an institution I have always held in high regard," he remarks. "Since I lived here and have many friends in the area, it was an easy decision to relocate to a more comfortable climate and culture."

DiMotta says he is very excited to work with a strong clinical and administrative team that is deeply committed to the care of transplant patients and the success of our mission. "My hope is to collaborate with all members of our team to help them realize their goals," he reports.

While DiMotta's extended family lives in New Jersey, he is glad to have the more temperate climate of Georgia to enjoy a few rounds of golf outside of work. He also enjoys the cold weather sports of hockey and snowboarding. His special interests include music and cooking.

You are invited to meet and greet our new senior administrator at a light breakfast on Tues., Dec. 2 from 8 to 9:30 a.m. at the Emory Clinic B 6300 conference room A/B.

Welcome to the ETC, Chris!




Lisa Carlson, MPH
Lisa Carlson, MPH


ETC Research Transforms Lives

ETC research funding remains stable, despite a reduction in federal, research and private development funding over the past couple of years. With more than $11.9 million from federal and industry-sponsored sources, the ETC continues to investigate beneficial therapies and other advancements for an increasing number of transplant patients at Emory and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and elsewhere.

According to Lisa Carlson, director of academic affairs for the ETC and department of surgery. "This is a drop from the $18 million mark we’ve been at recently. In FY2014, we felt the departures of transplant researchers Drs. Leslie Kean, Allan Kirk and Linda Cendales.  However, some of Dr. Kirk’s grant work was transferred to new Emory faculty and is being continued here, benefiting our patients."

National funding trends are down, and the ETC has seen some impact from this as well. The 49 ETC faculty researchers and their postdoctoral students and staff are using their research funding wisely and efficiently, obtaining impressive results from each dollar. An increasing number of faculty were principal investigators on an active award in FY2014 (34 faculty members, or a 69% increase). There were notable new awards to many of the ETC’s leaders, including Drs. Mandy Ford, Rachel Patzer, and Stephen Pastan.  ETC faculty are picking up the pace in disseminating their results, too. Our 49 faculty published 121 papers in 60 journals in fiscal year 2014. We are truly shaping the field.

Even with economic pressure, the future of transplant research here in FY2015 looks positive. "The ETC is currently enrolling in the largest number of clinical trials in our history — 34 active studies," says Carlson. “Also, the ETC is engaging in new collaborations, including the lung transplant team and cardiothoracic surgery division working together to support the EXPAND lung allograft perfusion trial at the Clifton Campus.

"In the end, the single most important factor is that the ETC has been able to sustain a high impact research portfolio that spans basic, translational, and clinical science research," she continues. "We continue to be exceptional stewards of the investments entrusted to us. Congratulations to everyone involved in research for making such a big impact in FY2014, and thank you for your continued dedication to advancing the field."


Stuart Knechtle, MD
Stuart Knechtle, MD


Knechtle Leaves Emory for Duke

We were saddened to hear the news that Dr. Stuart Knechtle will be leaving the ETC to join the faculty of Duke University, effective Dec. 31. But we are excited that he has accepted the challenge as executive director of the Duke Transplant Center in Durham, NC. The promotion is well deserved.

When he first came to Emory in 2008, Dr. Knechtle was extremely qualified to direct the ETC's clinical liver transplantation program. He spent 17 years on the faculty at the University of Wisconsin, where he operated a successful NIH-funded transplant immunology research lab and amassed six patents in the process. He directed the liver transplantation, kidney transplantation, and transplant clinical trials programs of UW Hospital and Clinics and led the teams that performed Wisconsin's first living donor liver transplant and the state's first combined liver-pancreas transplant.

Here at Emory, Dr. Knechtle expanded the scope of our liver transplant program by collaborating with colleagues in the departments of medicine, radiology, anesthesia, and surgery. He was appointed chief of the division of transplantation at Emory in 2009 and chief of pediatric liver transplant surgery at Children's in July 2010 and Carlos and Marguerite Mason Chair of Liver Transplant Surgery in November 2010.

In 2009, he led the team that performed Georgia's first domino liver transplant, a rare procedure in which a viable liver from a deceased donor is transplanted into the first recipient, and the first recipient's organ is then transplanted into a second recipient. In October 2011, he directed the first living donor, parent-to-child liver transplant at Children's in five years. In 2012 he led the teams that performed the liver and kidney portions of Georgia's first triple organ transplant.

While at Emory, Dr. Knechtle's research included studies of the immunologic mechanisms of transplant rejection and immunologic tolerance in organ transplantation encompassing human clinical trials and non-human primate models, examinations of liver transplant access and outcomes as well as cost and health care resource utilization, and development of a method to monitor kidney transplant patients by measuring chemokines in their urine rather than blood tests. According to the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research, which publishes ranking tables online of annual NIH funding, Dr. Knechtle was the fifth top NIH-funded academic surgery investigator for 2013.

Joseph Magliocca, MDDr. Knechtle will leave Emory's liver transplant program in able hands. Dr. Joseph (Joe) Magliocca will take the helm of the liver transplant programs at Emory and Children's. He also is a noted researcher and a former region 3 representative to the OPTN/UNOS pancreas transplantation committee (2011-2013).

Dr. Magliocca came to Emory in August 2011 from the University of Florida College of Medicine, where he was surgical director of adult and pediatric liver transplantation and pancreas transplantation as well as director of both resident and medical student education in transplantation and hepatobiliary surgery. He received a medical degree from Mount Sinai School of Medicine and completed a general surgery residency at the University of Michigan Health System and research and clinical fellowships in transplant surgery at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics.


Karim Halazun, MD
Karim Halazun, MD


Halazun Receives Vanguard Prize

The Foundation of the American Society of Transplant Surgeons has awarded Dr. Karim Halazun with the 2015 ASTS Vanguard Prize. He received the award for his paper, "Standing the Test of Time: Outcomes of a Decade of Prioritizing Patients with HCC, Results of the UNOS Natural Geographic Experiment," which was published in the June issue of Hepatology. The Vanguard Prize was established by the ASTS to recognize and honor outstanding contributions by its junior members for best papers published within the preceding 18 months.

Dr. Halazun and his colleague's research compared survival for patients undergoing liver transplantation for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC ) in long waiting time regions (LWTR) and short waiting time regions (SWTR) by analyzing national data from the United Network for Organ Sharing database. The authors concluded that patients with HCC who undergo liver transplant after a short time on the waiting list have a statistically lower chance of survival than those who wait longer.

The results suggest that early access to liver transplantation for patients with HCC is detrimental to overall survival despite decreasing the risk of wait list dropout. Improved survival in the LWTR existed both on an intent-to-treat analysis and in a post-transplant survival analysis, despite a higher proportion of T3 patients being transplanted in the LWTR. Listing and being transplanted in the LWTR was associated with better outcome in multivariable analysis, conferring a 20% greater chance of improved survival when compared to listing in a SWTR.

"One possible explanation is that HCC patients can be transplanted in short waiting time regions before physicians know how aggressive their particular tumors are, which can lead to poorer outcomes," says Dr. Halazun. "In long waiting time regions, patients with tumors that progress drop off the list if the tumor becomes too advanced. Another hypothesis is that HCC patients in long waiting time regions have the opportunity to receive neo-adjuvant treatment such as transarterial chemo-embolization, which can prevent progression during waiting time as well as decrease the risk of seeding during transplantation."

The award will be formally presented to Dr. Halazun at the 15th ASTS State of the Art Winter Symposium, Transplant: The Ultimate Team Sport, which is scheduled for January 15-18, 2015, at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel.


Rachel Patzer, PhD
Rachel Patzer, PhD


Patzer Chosen for EM-ProLEAD Class of '15

Dr. Rachel Patzer, ETC epidemiologist, has been chosen as one of the members of the inaugural class of the Emory Medicine Professional Leadership Enrichment and Development Program (EM-ProLEAD). The term is January to October 2015. This prestigious program is designed to foster and develop professionals across the entire Emory Medicine enterprise and will focus on enriching leadership skills, enhancing business knowledge and developing strong partnerships across Emory. The program is lead by Dr. Douglas Morris, director and CEO of the Emory Clinic, and Dr. Harold Simon, vice chair of the department of pediatrics.

The launch of EM-ProLEAD was announced last August. The program evolved from combining two very successful and popular faculty development programs, Pediatrics Executive Program (PEP), initiated by Dr. Lucky Jain in 2005, and Emory Clinic's Physician Leadership Development Program (PLDP), started by Dr. Morris in 2013.
Candidates were nominated by their department chair or division director and reviewed by the Em-ProLEAD Advisory Committee. The selection process was difficult due to the number of impressive nominees. Those not selected for this year will be eligible to reapply for the 2016 course.

For additional information or questions related to EM-ProLEAD, please contact Michael Cabe in the clinic's office of development programs by email.




EHC logo
Reece Odum, star of The Wish


Donate Life America and CME Films Co-Produce New Movie Short

Just in time for the holidays is an inspirational new film aimed at helping create awareness about life-changing organ donation among minority communities. The faith-based drama, The Wish — A Story of Hope, Faith and Generosity, features the story about a popular high school teacher who desperately needs a kidney transplant. Filmed in Columbus, Ga. over the summer, The Wish is co-produced by Georgia-based Creative Media Entertainment (CME) Films and Donate Life America and written by Ty Manns, CME Films' founder and director. Manns also founded CME Films SAVE1000™, a non-profit partnership platform that specializes in producing feature and short films that make a plea for action.

The WishWhen Donate Life announced the film in June, Mann commented, "The central focus of the film is to entertain, educate and inspire viewers to take action by registering as donors and perhaps even considering living donation. Because nearly 40% of those currently awaiting kidney transplants are minorities, and most suitable matches are often from the same ethnic group, the need for more registered donors within the minority communities is clear. We pray that the audience will enjoy the film and be encouraged to think about how they can help others through donation." The Wish is a 45-minute film short that will be released for National Donor Sabbath and Thanksgiving, a time when families focus on blessings that they have and can give to others.

For more information and to watch the movie trailer, click on

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Watch the 2014 Emory Healthcare Quality Conference

If you missed the 2014 Emory Healthcare Quality Conference, you still have a chance to catch the action on your computer. A video from the conference is now posted on the OurEHC website. This year's conference featured guest speaker, Dr. Bob Wachter, founder of the hospitalist movement, and a return appearance by motivational speaker John O'Leary. Their messages were thought-provoking and inspiring.

Click here to watch the video.




Upcoming Happenings

Staff and faculty are encouraged to take part in these educational opportunities and events:


Date & Time



Meet Chris DiMotta, ETC senior executive director
Tues., Dec. 2, 8-9:30 am
Emory Clinic B, suite 6300, conference room A/B
Light continental breakfast served
Clifton Road Campus Night of Lights Celebration
Tues., Dec. 2, 5:30-7:30 pm
Emory University Hospital front lawn
Auxiliary Light of Love, a ESJH holiday celebration
Wed., Dec. 3
Emory Saint Joseph's Hospital
ETC Noon Conferences
Wednesdays, Dec. 3, 10, 17, & 31, Noon-1 pm
School of Medicine education building auditorium, room 110
Lunch cards: $15 for five lunches ($3/lunch)
Blood Drive, sponsored by American Red Cross & Emory University Hospital
Thurs., Dec. 4, 10 am-6 pm
EUH E-wing classroom B/C
Make an appointment by clicking here. All donors will receive a meal coupon. Additional bonus: Each donation means EUH will receive a discount on pints needed for patients. So stop by and bring a friend!
UNOS Regions 3 & 11 Roundtable Discussion & Meeting
Roundtable: Thurs., Dec. 4. Meeting: Fri., Dec. 5. Registration: 10:15 am. Meeting: 10:30 am-3:30 pm
Hilton Garden Inn Atlanta Airport/Millennium Center, 2301 Sullivan Rd., College Park, GA, 30337
Info: Cliff McClenney, UNOS assistant director, regional administration
ETC Holiday Party
Sat., Dec. 6, 6-9 pm
Cox Hall Ballroom
See you there!
Living Donor Liver Transplantation: The Left Lobe, a department of surgery grand rounds presentation
Thurs., Dec. 11, 7-8 am
Emory University Hospital auditorium
Speaker: Daniel Campos, MD, assistant professor of surgery
Holiday meals
Sat., Dec 13, Tues., Dec. 16, & Wed., Dec. 17
Christmas Giving Festival
Thurs., Dec. 18
Apply for a Clinical Certification Award
Due Jan. 15, 2015
Complete a form through e-Vantage. Fax certification verification to HR: 404-686-3411.
Art & Soul, an art auction to benefit Georgia Transplant Foundation (GTF)
Sat., Jan. 24, 7-11 pm
Country Club of Roswell, 2500 Club Springs Dr., Roswell, 30076
Info: GTF website
Tom Glavine's Spring Training, a gala to benefit GTF
Sat., Feb. 7, 2015, 7:30-11:30 pm
Delta's Flight Museum, 1060 Delta Blvd., Atlanta, 30354
Info: GTF website Sponsorships start at $1,500
Donate Life Georgia Run 4 Your Life, a 5K run/walk to support organ, tissue & eye donation education in the state (the ETC is a presenting sponsor) Sat., April 18, 2015 Silver Comet Trail, Paulding County Chamber of Commerce Trailhead Save the date!


birthday cake

December Birthdays

We wish the warmest birthday greetings to the following employees and faculty:

Sara Drum, Dec. 4
Walta Gerezghier, Dec. 16
Temekia Cotton, Dec. 3
Janis Carter, Dec. 20
Elizabeth Ferry, Dec. 6
Kevin McTeague, Dec. 21
Zina Smith, Dec. 6
Jennifer Kitchens, Dec. 22
Tonia Reed, Dec. 8
Chris Larsen, Dec. 26
Michael Gay, Dec. 13
Gwendolyn Christian, Dec. 27
David Neujahr, Dec. 15
Katie Cox, Dec. 27
Paxon Collins, Dec. 16
Alisa Heppe, Dec. 27
Jan Robertson, Dec. 16
Christina Smith, Dec. 30
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