Christian P. Larsen, MD, DPhil, an internationally recognized leader in transplant surgery and immunology, has been named dean of Emory University School of Medicine. He also will serve as vice president for Health Center Integration for the Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center and as chairman of the Board of Directors of The Emory Clinic. Larsen will assume these roles effective January 15, 2013.
Larsen is currently chair of the Department of Surgery at Emory University School of Medicine, director of Surgical Services for Emory Healthcare and executive director of the Emory Transplant Center. He also is 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 Emory School of Medicine.
Larsen succeeds Thomas J. Lawley, MD, who retired from the deanship this year after 16 years in that position and will remain a medical faculty member.
Larsen joined the Emory School of Medicine faculty in 1991 and was appointed chair of surgery in the medical school and director of surgical services for Emory Healthcare in 2009. His clinical practice is focused on kidney, pancreas and islet transplantation at Emory University Hospital and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
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 NIH 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, MD, DPhil, Larsen has played a pivotal role in discovering a new class of immunosuppressive drugs known as co-stimulation blockers. Larsen and Pearson helped drive the development of the co-stimulation blocker belatacept, approved in June 2011 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration 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 Emory, where he was chief surgical resident and a fellow in transplantation surgery.
Larsen is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, chair of the NIH NIAID Non-Human Primate Tolerance Network and a member of the NIH Clinical Islet Transplant Consortium Steering Committee.
He 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 (2001), the Roche Basic Science Established Investigator Award (2004), the Roche Award for Excellence in Translational Research from the American Society of Transplantation (2006), the Thomas E. Starzl Prize in Surgery and Immunology (2007), and the Emory School of Medicine’s Distinguished Faculty Lecture and Award (2009).