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  November 14, 2012  

Larsen named dean of medicine

Wright Caughman  
Chris Larsen  

On behalf of Earl Lewis and Acting Provost Claire Sterk, I am delighted to announce that President Wagner and the Board of Trustees have accepted our recommendation to appoint Christian Larsen, MD, DPhil, as our new Dean of the Emory University School of Medicine. He will also serve as Vice President for Health Center Integration for the Woodruff Health Sciences Center and Chairman of the Board of Directors of The Emory Clinic. Dr. Larsen will assume these roles effective January 15. He will succeed Tom Lawley, who is retiring from the deanship after 16 years in the position and will continue to serve on the Emory faculty.

After joining the Emory medical faculty in 1991, Dr. Larsen became founding director of the Emory Transplant Center in 2001, building it into one of the foremost research and clinical transplantation programs in the world. He was appointed Chair of Surgery in 2009 and holds endowed positions as the Joseph Brown Whitehead Professor of Surgery and the Carlos and Marguerite Mason Professor in the medical school.

An internationally recognized leader in transplant surgery and immunology, Dr. Larsen is also recognized for his leadership in developing innovative models for multidisciplinary patient care. In his role as Vice President for Health Center Integration, Dr. Larsen will work closely with John Fox, President and CEO of Emory Healthcare, and EHC senior leadership to strategically align and strengthen our clinical and academic missions and programs.

We would like to extend our sincere thanks to James Curran, Dean of the Rollins School of Public Health, who led our superb search committee, and to the search committee members themselves. Dr. Curran and his committee conducted a comprehensive national search, devoting extensive time and energy to this crucial process, and we are deeply grateful for their hard work. The resulting pool of candidates was one of the strongest ever assembled.

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Larsen to these positions. The mission of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center is to serve humanity by improving health through integration of education, discovery, and patient care. Dr. Larsen’s broad knowledge of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center and the respect he has earned from his colleagues and from the many patients he has served throughout his stellar career make him the ideal person to continue the alignment of strategies throughout the Woodruff Health Sciences Center and Emory University.

For more information about Dr. Larsen, please see below.

S. Wright Caughman, MD
Executive VP for Health Affairs
CEO, Woodruff Health Sciences Center
Chairman, Emory Healthcare


Larsen is an alumnus of both Emory College and Emory's medical school.


Chris Larsen, physician, scientist, teacher

Chris Larsen joined the Emory School of Medicine faculty in 1991 and was appointed chair of surgery in 2009. His clinical practice is focused on kidney, pancreas, and islet transplantation at Emory University Hospital and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. In 2003, he and his team performed the first islet transplant in Georgia and have continued to be leaders in this innovative field of transplant.

Larsen is also surgeon-in-chief of Emory University Hospital, director of surgical services for Emory Healthcare, section head of surgery in The Emory Clinic, and an affiliate scientist at Yerkes National Primate Research Center. He holds endowed positions as the Joseph Brown Whitehead Professor of Surgery and the Carlos and Marguerite Mason Professor in the medical school.

Larsen became founding director of the Emory Transplant Center (ETC) in 2001, building and directing one of the foremost research and clinical transplantation programs in the world. The center is most noteworthy for its leadership in the early integration of clinical care and research. 

Under Larsen, the ETC has been a national pacesetter in establishing new standards to ensure reliable, patient-centered care, focusing on multidisciplinary care a full decade before its recognition as an essential attribute in patient care. In addition, the ETC has been one of the nation's leading centers for National Institutes of Health research funding in basic immunology, in translational studies in non-human primates, and in large, multi-center clinical trials.

Together with long-time collaborator Thomas Pearson, Larsen has played a pivotal role in developing a new class of immunosuppressive drugs, the co-stimulation blockers. Poised to replace the cyclosporine class of drugs, these new drugs have the promise of being just as effective while avoiding the major side effects and toxicities associated with cyclosporine. Larsen and Pearson helped drive discovery and development of the co-stimulation blocker belatacept, approved in June 2011 by the FDA for kidney transplant recipients—the first time a new class of drug had been approved for transplant since the 1990s.

In 2012 Larsen received a new NIH grant for nearly $20 million to lead a research team continuing development of more effective co-stimulation blockers for near-term treatment of transplant patients and better strategies for the "holy grail" of transplantation—long-term, true immune tolerance of transplanted organs.

Larsen has been continuously funded by the NIH for the past 16 years. The recipient of a prestigious NIH MERIT award, he has directed program project grants, center awards, and multi-institutional consortia funded by the NIH and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

After receiving his bachelor of arts in chemistry from Emory College, Larsen received his medical degree from Emory University School of Medicine in 1984. He was a Livingston Surgical Research Fellow at the University of Oxford, England, and he received his doctor of philosophy in transplantation immunology from Oxford in 1990. He completed general and transplantation surgery training at Stanford University and at Emory, where he was chief surgical resident and a fellow in transplantation surgery.

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