The Abdominal Organ Transplant Fellowship Program is a nationally recognized, two-year program certified by the American Society of Transplant Surgeons in either kidney and liver transplant (one fellow accepted every year), or kidney only transplant (one fellow accepted every two years). Established in 1992, the program is tailored to suit the individual interests and previous experience of the trainee.

The program’s goal is to prepare fellows for careers in liver and kidney transplantation, both adult and pediatric, particularly in an academic setting.

One kidney and liver transplant fellow matriculates in the program each year, and one kidney transplant fellow matriculates every other year. Six full-time liver and kidney transplant surgeons who are members of the faculty of Washington University School of Medicine provide training to the fellows. Transplant nephrologists and hepatologists, a dedicated transplant nursing staff, social workers, dietitians, financial analysts, and a fellowship training office administrator and secretary also offer support.

Typically, the first 12 to 18 months of the fellowship are dedicated to clinical responsibilities. The kidney and liver services are not separated, and the transplant surgeon-in-training has responsibility for inpatient and outpatient management of both services. The fellow participates in the vast majority of all cadaveric multi-organ donor operations, living donor nephrectomies, living donor hepatectomies, kidney transplants, liver transplants and small bowel transplants.

The fellow also receives experience in a number of other clinical areas:

  • Islet cell transplantation. Washington University Medical Center is an international leader in this field.
  • Solid pancreas transplantation. This program was initiated in recent years.
  • Vascular access procedures. The fellow participates in 20% to 50% of the 500 to 700 vascular access procedures performed annually, depending upon experience and interest.
  • Non-transplant hepatobiliary (HPB) cases. The fellow may participate in a significant number of HPB cases, depending on the level of interest.
  • Pre- and post-transplant care for both liver and kidney transplant patients is provided in a clinic operated jointly by the departments of surgery and medicine. The fellow participates in the clinics and performs biopsies under the supervision of attending physicians, both medical and surgical.

Research comprises six to 12 months of the fellowship, as determined by the prior experience and interest of the fellow. An active research program in the Department of Surgery provides many opportunities for fellows to pursue their interests. Research mentors also may be selected from other departments within the Medical Center.

Fellows are expected to develop an independent research project and to present their findings at one of the program’s weekly conferences. In addition, fellows are strongly encouraged to present their experimental data at a national meeting and to publish their outcomes in peer-reviewed journals. The goal is for trainees to develop a plan for continued research and to prepare to compete for extramural funding as independent investigators, if they wish to pursue opportunities in the field of transplantation research.