Abdominal Transplantation Division Celebrates Diversity

Dr. Marc Melcher, Fellowship Program Director, discusses the importance of diversity within Stanford and our Fellowship Program. 

Dr. Samuel So, MD, FACS is the Executive Director of the Asian Liver Center. 

Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

May is designated as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. To honor this time, we are celebrating the achievements and contributions of people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent in the U.S. 

Are you familiar with Stanford's Asian Liver Center at Stanford University?

The Asian Liver Center at Stanford University is the first non-profit organization in the United States that addresses the disproportionately high rates of chronic hepatitis B infection (HBV) and liver cancer in Asians and Asian Americans.

Through collaboration, advocacy, research, education and outreach, the Asian Liver Center's ultiamte goal is to eradicate HBV, liver cancer and liver disease cause by chronic HBV and to eliminate the stigma of HBV.

Celebrating Women's History Month 2021: Women in Research, Ayantika Sen

Ayantika Sen, PhD.,  joined the Division of Abdominal Transplant as a mentee of Dr. Sheri Krams in October 2020.  Originally from India, Sen came to Sheri Krams’ Lab in the Division of Abdominal Transplantation via Oklahoma State University where she earned her PhD in immunology.

Sen has authored multiple papers on the role of estrogen and estrogen receptors in regulating UTI disease severity in post-menopausal women, so transplant was a whole new world, but she found many of her technical skills and immunology knowledge transferred easily to her new work. Sen’s first project is looking at the role of micro-RNAs(miRNAs) in predicting susceptibility to post-transplant lymphoproliferative disease (PTLD) in pediatric transplant patients. PTLD is a type of cancer affecting white blood cells, commonly seen in transplant patients.

Dr. Samuel L. Kountz paved the way for future African American surgeon-scientists to contribute to the field of transplantation.

Celebrating Black History Month 2021: Dr. Samuel L. Kountz

Dr. Samuel Lee Kountz established the legacy of African American surgeons at Stanford University when in the late 1950’s he arrived from the University of Arkansas to begin his residency.  After graduating from medical school as just one of two African Americans, Dr. Kountz headed west in search of pioneering ways to increase access to organ transplantation, particularly for poor, underserved, and minority renal failure patients. As a Stanford Surgery resident, Dr. Kountz participated in the first kidney transplant on the West Coast with Dr. Cohn.  He was hired onto our faculty and promoted to the rank of Associate Professor.  His success at Stanford led to his recruitment to UCSF.

At UCSF Dr. Kountz achieved Full Professor and became the Director of the Transplant Service. Kountz would go onto perform several hundred renal transplants and study graft rejection, tissue typing, and organ preservation. Dr. Kountz also pursued what could be his greatest contribution to surgery, which was to make socioeconomic changes at the highest levels of the US Government. Stanford’s own Dr. Oscar Salvatierra studied as a transplant fellow under Dr. Kountz at UCSF, and together they lobbied for social security reform in affordability of medical treatments, including federal funding for African Americans and other minority transplant patients who could not afford the life-saving treatment for end-stage renal disease, or surgery. Dr. Salvatierra later became Professor of Surgery at Stanford (have a live link to his lectureship) and founder of the pediatric kidney transplant program at Stanford Children's Hospital (link to the Pediatric kidney transplant program)

Dr. Kountz would go on to Chair the Department of Surgery at SUNY New York Downstate Medical Center. The inner city of New York provided the grounds for Dr. Kountz to make the biggest impact for African Americans in the community through the establishment of a transplant center that would become one of the busiest in the country. Kountz performed a kidney transplant on live television to raise awareness and traveled the world to impart his knowledge.  Tragically, while on a visiting professorship in South Africa, Dr. Kountz contracted an illness that led to his untimely death at the age of 51.

Dr. Kountz paved the way for future African American surgeon-scientists to contribute to the field of transplantation.  Dr. Kountz’s legacy includes hundreds of peer-reviewed articles imparting knowledge on the entire spectrum of renal disease, treatment, and transplant, including medications to prevent rejection. He was named president of the Society of University Surgeons, received many prestigious awards, with numerous honors and scholarships holding his name. Currently, at Stanford, the Department of Surgery has established a fellowship in Dr. Kountz’ name in 2006 to encourage underrepresented minority students to pursue an academic surgical career.