G. Tullius, MD, PhD, has been awarded a National Institutes of Health (NIH)
grant for his study “Senescent cells
drive mt-DNA accumulation and inflamm-aging.”
The sharp discrepancy between demand and supply of organs causes high mortality and morbidity rates in waitlisted patients. Organ transplantation is hampered by a limited supply of organs, with many patients waiting for numerous years and numerous patients dying before getting a transplant. The aging population is also on the rise, and although organs from older donors are available, they are frequently not considered or discarded with concerns of compromised function and augmented immunogenicity. With aging, senescent cells accumulate, producing increasing amounts of inflammatory products.
This grant will delineate specific immune responses when transplanting older organs. Dr Tullius and his group will test if the depletion of senescent cells through senolytics will improve transplant outcomes and modify immune responses. The proposal will also test if senescent cells will be transferred in organ transplants and if those senescent cells will impact aging. As donor and recipient ages may vary substantially, it is also possible that aging processes in transplant recipients may be either accelerated or that the transplantation of a younger organ will slow aging. The supported research may help to increase the availability of organs for transplants, delineate organ-age specific immune responses and determine the fate of senescent cells transferred with organ transplantation. Optimizing the utilization and outcomes of older transplanted organs is also expected to reduce mortality and morbidity rates of waitlisted patients with end-stage organ failure.
Stefan G Tullius, MD, PhD Chief, Division of Transplant Surgery, Brigham and Women’s Hospital Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School Director, Transplant Surgery Research Laboratory
Tullius is the chief of the Division of Transplant Surgery at Brigham and
Women’s Hospital and a professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School. He
received his medical degree from the Johann-Wolfgang Goethe University in
Frankfurt, Germany; a PhD from the Charité in Berlin, Germany; and a (honorary)
Master of Arts from Harvard University. He has published over 280 peer-reviewed articles, led
numerous externally funded studies, and is frequently invited to speak locally,
nationally, and internationally.
His research career in transplantation
immunology covers a period of more than 15 years and has greatly contributed to
an improved understanding of the pathophysiology of long-term graft failure.
His more recent research interests include individualized immunosuppression and
the investigation of basic mechanisms of clinically relevant aspects in organ
transplantation, focusing on novel routes for optimized utilization of organs
for transplantation and organ preservation/perfusion. Dr. Tullius has also
contributed with pioneering work in face, hand and uterus transplantation.
In addition to his clinical practice
and research interests, Dr. Tullius has contributed to the international
transplant community with his editorial, societal and committee activities. He
is an executive editor of Transplantation,
associate editor of Transplant
International, and has served as associate and consulting editor of the American Journal of Transplantation. He has
also served on the board of the European Society for Organ Transplantation
(ESOT) and was the founding chair of the Basic Science Committee of ESOT. He
has co-chaired several international meetings for The Transplantation Society
(TTS), chaired several committees for the American Society of Transplantation
(AST) and was the founding chair of the AST Vascular Composite Tissue
Dr. Tullius is currently a member of
the Declaration of Istanbul Custodian Group (DICG), the senior treasurer of TTS
and vice president of the International Society of Uterus Transplantation
(ISUTx). In recognition of his contributions, Dr. Tullius has received several awards,
including the Clinical Science Investigator Award of the AST, the Joseph E.
Murray and Simon J. Simonian Award and the Excellence in Kidney Transplantation
Award by the National Kidney Foundation.
Stephanie Nitzschke, MD, has been appointed program director of the Brigham General Surgery Residency Program. Dr. Nitzschke has served as an associate director of the program since 2018.
Stephanie Nitzschke, MD Associate Surgeon, Division of Trauma, Burn, Surgical and Critical Care, Brigham and Women’s Hospital Medical Director, Burn Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital Program Director, General Surgery Residency, Brigham and Women’s Hospital Instructor in Surgery, Harvard Medical School
Dr. Nitzschke is an acute care surgeon,
trauma surgeon and surgical intensivist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an instructor
in surgery at Harvard Medical School. She is a graduate of Loyola University
Stritch School of Medicine and completed a general surgery residency at INOVA
Fairfax Hospital. She also completed a burn surgery fellowship at the U.S. Army
Institute of Surgical Research and a trauma and critical care fellowship at the
University of Pennsylvania. She joined the trauma and critical faculty in 2014
and has been the medical director of the Brigham Burn Center since 2017.
Dr. Nitzschke is an active
participant in resident and medical student education. Her research interests
include clinical outcomes for burn and trauma patients. She has authored over 20
peer-reviewed manuscripts and chapters and presented 20 surgical care abstracts
and lectures regionally and nationally.