News Release: Emory Healthcare, Research, School of Medicine, Woodruff Health Sciences

Jan. 15,  2009

Emory Names Christian P. Larsen as Surgery Chair, Director of Emory Healthcare's Surgical Services

News Article ImageChristian P. Larsen

Christian P. Larsen, MD, DPhil, has been named chair of the Department of Surgery at Emory University School of Medicine, surgeon-in-chief of Emory University Hospital and director of surgical services for Emory Healthcare. In addition, he will become section head of surgery in The Emory Clinic, and he will hold the endowed position of Joseph Brown Whitehead Professor of Surgery.  

An internationally recognized leader in transplant surgery and immunology, Larsen currently is professor of surgery, associate vice president and executive director of the Emory Transplant Center, and he holds an endowed position as Carlos and Marguerite Mason Professor. He is an affiliate scientist at Yerkes National Primate Research Center.

As surgery chair, Larsen will report to Thomas J. Lawley, MD, dean of Emory School of Medicine. As surgeon-in-chief and as director of surgical services, he will report to John T. Fox, president and CEO, Emory Healthcare.

The appointment is effective Feb. 1, 2009.  Larsen succeeds William C. Wood, MD, who will step down after serving as chair of surgery for 17 highly successful years. Wood, who built the Department of Surgery to new heights of excellence in clinical care, education and research, will intensify his focus on scholarly activities related to innovation in cancer therapy.

Larsen became founding director of the Emory Transplant Center in 2001, building and directing one of the foremost research and clinical transplantation programs in the world. The Transplant Center now includes 200 physicians, nurses, dietitians, social workers and scientists integrated to provide coordinated patient-focused multidisciplinary care and multidisciplinary research. His clinical practice is focused on kidney, pancreas and islet transplantation at Emory University Hospital and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

"Emory is most fortunate to have counted Dr. Larsen among our faculty as a leading transplant surgeon and visionary scientist, and we look forward with great anticipation as he continues to build and lead this outstanding department," says Fred Sanfilippo, MD, PhD, CEO of Emory's Woodruff Health Sciences Center. "As a fellow transplant immunologist, I am well aware of Dr. Larsen's excellence and renown as a researcher and a transplant surgeon and his dedication to team science and team medicine."

"Chris Larsen would be the clear choice of countless academic medical centers for a clinical and academic leader," says Lawley. "We are tremendously pleased that after a stellar career at Emory as a student, surgeon, scientist and administrator, Dr. Larsen will be assuming this critical leadership position in our Department of Surgery."

"Dr. Larsen will champion and challenge our surgeons and staff, ensuring Emory as the leading destination for patients who seek 'top-tier' surgical care, and for surgeons who seek a leading edge, multidisciplinary, collaborative practice environment," Fox says. "His skills complement his commitment to patient- and family-centered surgical care while sharpening Emory's leadership in delivering exceptional quality in clinical outcomes."  

As chair, Larsen will serve as the senior physician executive for the Department of Surgery, providing senior leadership in all clinical, educational and research endeavors. As surgeon-in-chief of Emory University Hospital and director of surgical services at Emory Healthcare, he will work closely with the president and CEO of Emory Healthcare to develop the clinical program involving surgical departments, plan new ambulatory and inpatient facilities, and be accountable for an effective effort to improve clinical quality and outcomes, surgical services effectiveness and resource utilization.

The Department of Surgery, founded in 1939, has a history of educational excellence and pioneering research that translates into innovation in patient care and that has transformed the surgical options available to patients and physicians alike. The department includes 75 full-time faculty surgeons, assisted by more than 40 part-time faculty. It is consistently ranked by the National Institutes of Health among the leaders in the nation in federal research grant support.

After receiving his bachelor of arts in chemistry from Emory College, Larsen went on to receive his MD degree magna cum laude from Emory School of Medicine in 1984 and his doctor of philosophy in transplantation immunology from the University of Oxford, England in 1990. He completed general and transplantation surgery training at Stanford University and Emory, where he was chief surgical resident and a fellow in transplantation surgery. He joined the Emory University School of Medicine faculty in the Department of Surgery in 1991.

Larsen's scientific contributions are evident in his high-impact journal publications and in his ability to successfully drive discoveries from the laboratory to patient care. Together with long-time collaborator and friend Thomas Pearson, MD, he has played a pivotal role in developing a new class of immunosuppressive drugs, the costimulation blockers. These are poised to replace the cyclosporine class of drugs, which, while effective, are associated with major side effects and toxicities. These studies have spanned 15 years, moving from mice, to monkeys, to humans, and requiring vision, focus and tenacity. Larsen and Pearson's research team, which in 1991 consisted only of themselves, now includes more than 100 investigators, including 10 principal investigators. Larsen's current scientific endeavors are focused on achieving immune tolerance to organ and tissue transplant, and to the application of costimulation blockers to facilitate islet transplantation of insulin-producing cells to treat type 1 diabetes.

Larsen has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health for the past 16 years.  He is the recipient of a prestigious NIH MERIT award and has directed program project grants, center awards and multi-institutional consortia from the NIH and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.  He has directly supervised more than 40 graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, residents and medical students.

Larsen is an elected member of the prestigious American Society for Clinical Investigation and is the recipient of both national and international research awards including: the Basic Science Award of the American Society of Transplant Physicians (1997), the Roche Award of the American Society of Transplantation (2001), the Transplantation Society's Roche Award for Excellence in Translational Research (2006), the Thomas E. Starzl Prize in Surgery and Immunology (2007), and the Emory School of Medicine Dean's Distinguished Faculty Lecture and Award (2009).


The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service. Its components include schools of medicine, nursing, and public health; Yerkes National Primate Research Center; the Emory Winship Cancer Institute; and Emory Healthcare, the largest, most comprehensive health system in Georgia. The Woodruff Health Sciences Center has a $2.3 billion budget, 17,000 employees, 2,300 full-time and 1,900 affiliated faculty, 4,300 students and trainees, and a $4.9 billion economic impact on metro Atlanta.

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