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Mid-America Transplant Creates First-Ever Endowed Distinguished Chair

In a unique collaboration, The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Mid-America Transplant and Washington University School of Medicine have joined together to create a new endowed distinguished chair focused on lung transplantation. Daniel Kreisel, MD, PhD, the surgical director of the lung transplant program at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University, was recently installed as the inaugural recipient of the G. Alexander Patterson, MD/Mid-America Transplant Endowed Distinguished Chair in Lung Transplantation.

The endowed distinguished chair was made possible by an initiating gift from Mid-America Transplant and marks the first time an organ procurement organization (OPO) has established a research chair. The gift, which was made to the Foundation, was matched by the Department of Surgery and the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine, representing an innovative collaboration between hospital, academic medical center and OPO.

“In addition to Mid-America Transplant’s generous donation, which supports the future of our program, our daily collaboration is why we have one of the world’s leading programs in solid organ transplant,” said Bob Cannon, president of Barnes-Jewish Hospital and The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital, and group president of BJC HealthCare. “Our hospital team, organ procurement organizations like Mid-America Transplant and surgeons work closely together to provide our patients and their families with exceptional care during often challenging times.”

Stewarding Lifesaving Gifts  

Endowed chairs, among the highest of honors bestowed upon clinical scientists, give outstanding researchers and clinicians the ability to pursue groundbreaking work that helps them develop better treatments and technology. The Foundation currently stewards endowments that fund 28 chairs held by faculty at Washington University School of Medicine. This is the Foundation’s first distinguished chair, a title that signifies greater funding and preeminence in a field of study.

President and CEO of Mid-America Transplant, Diane Brockmeier, shared that the organization makes this unprecedented gift with a responsibility and a privilege to honor the heroic and selfless gifts of organ and tissue donors. “We believe the most important way we can do that is through intentional stewardship of those gifts,” she said. “Our decision to make the initiating gift for this endowed distinguished chair is simply an act of stewardship because we are ensuring that right here in our own community we have world class surgeons and physicians like Dr. Patterson and Dr. Kreisel working each day to save more lives.”

Honoring a Pioneer in Thoracic Surgery

Brockmeier and other speakers at the installation praised Dr. Alec Patterson for his enormous impact on the field of thoracic surgery including participating in the first-ever successful lung transplant and helping to build a pioneering lung transplant program of world renown at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. In addition to his outstanding surgical skills and clinical care, he has been a cherished teacher and mentor to generations of trainees, including Dr. Dan Kreisel.

Named director of the Lung Center in 1991, Dr. Patterson’s pioneering work set the standard for thoracic surgical technique and advanced the field of transplantation, making the curriculum taught at Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital one of the world’s most prestigious lung transplant programs.

Praising both Drs. Patterson and Kreisel, Timothy Eberlein, MD, Director Siteman Cancer Center and Chairman, Department of Surgery, spoke about the importance of being a bridge-tender. “I think Alec Patterson and Dan Kreisel are bridge-tenders,” said Dr. Eberlein. "Bridge-tenders are people who took the difficult task of bridging between basic science and clinical medicine and that’s not easy to do. Bridge-tenders tend to be criticized by basic scientists that they’re not enough of a basic scientist. They’re criticized by clinicians because they don’t do enough cases. But if you think about all the major advances that have occurred in surgery, they have all happened because of bridge-tenders.”

He said that there is no better way of honoring Dr. Patterson than to award the chair to Dr. Dan Kreisel - “somebody who is exactly in his mold, someone he’s helped train and also mentor.”

Dr. Patterson said he had been very excited when Dr. Kreisel agreed to train at Washington University and even more elated when he decided to remain on the faculty.

“You have an outstanding list of accomplishments. You are a wonderful surgeon and terrific scientist,” he said to his mentee. “Hands down, you are the most productive thoracic clinical scientist anywhere.”

A Quintessential Bridge-Tender

Over the years, Dr. Kreisel has established a reputation as one of the country’s top lung surgeons and scientists in the field of lung transplantation. He has helped grow the lung transplant program at Barnes-Jewish Hospital by increasing the number of transplantations and advancing research into rejection issues and use of marginal organs. The G. Alexander Patterson MD/Mid-America Transplant Endowed Distinguished Chair in Lung Transplantation will ensure he has the resources to continue his innovative work.

“Dan you are the ultimate bridge-tender,” Dr. Eberlein said. “You have a terrific background in immunology and you are a gifted researcher. If anyone is going to figure out the immunology for chronic rejection, it’s going to be Dan Kreisel.”

Graduating from New York’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine in 1995, Dr. Dan Kreisel trained in general surgery at The Hospital of The University of Pennsylvania and completed his residency in 2003. He earned a PhD in 2002 from The University of Pennsylvania and completed his training in cardiothoracic surgery at Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

In 2014, he was named the surgical director of the lung transplant program at Barnes-Jewish and Washington University School of Medicine. In 2017, he was asked to serve as the scientific director of the Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Transplant Center.

Dr. Kreisel’s acclaimed work includes research into the causes of lung transplant failure. He recently co-authored a study published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation uncovering the precise inflammatory cells that flow into and harm the lung soon after transplant. The resulting dysfunction is the leading cause of early death after lung transplantation and contributes to organ rejection that can lead to death months or years later.

During his installation, Dr. Kreisel said he was extremely honored to hold a chair named after his mentor.

“You supported me and my academic career in every imaginable way, every step of the way,” Dr. Kreisel said. “Clearly I would not be standing here today without Alec’s mentorship.”

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