2024 TTS Thomas Starzl Innovation Award Winner

Dr. Robert A. Montgomery
We are thrilled to announce that the 2024 TTS Thomas Starzl Innovation Award has been bestowed upon Dr. Robert A. Montgomery, a trailblazer in the field of transplantation. Dr. Montgomery, Professor and Chair of Surgery and Director of the Transplant Institute at NYU Langone Health, has demonstrated exceptional innovation and leadership in organ transplantation.

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Dr. Montgomery has achieved several groundbreaking milestones that continue to shape the landscape of transplantation medicine. He led the pioneering team that performed the world’s first successful gene-edited pig-to-human kidney xenotransplant in September 2021, setting a precedent in the field. This monumental achievement was followed by another record-setting event in September 2023, where his team sustained the longest functioning pig-to-human kidney xenotransplant for 61 days.

His contributions extend beyond xenotransplantation. Dr. Montgomery was pivotal in developing the laparoscopic live donor nephrectomy technique and co-led the first NOTES procedure for the vaginal extraction of a donor kidney. His innovative thinking led to the conception and execution of the first Domino Paired Donation, catalyzing a network of transplants that significantly enhances donor and recipient matches. His leadership in multi-institutional domino paired donations and the pioneering of kidney shipments by air between institutions have significantly expanded the reach and efficiency of transplant procedures.

Additionally, Dr. Montgomery founded the incompatible transplant program at NYU Langone Health, utilizing the Hopkins protocol to desensitize over 600 HLA and ABO incompatible patients, thereby opening doors for many who previously had no hope due to antibody barriers.

The TTS Starzl Innovation Award recognizes Dr. Montgomery’s profound impact on the field of transplantation, mirroring the pioneering spirit of Dr. Tom Starzl. His work not only advances medical science but also brings renewed hope to thousands of patients worldwide. We congratulate Dr. Montgomery for his outstanding contributions and for continuing the legacy of innovation and excellence in transplantation.

The award will be presented during the President's Plenary session on September 25 at our upcoming Congress in Istanbul, taking place from September 22-25.

This award is supported by:

TTS Thomas Starzl Innovation Award

The TTS Starzl Innovation Award is named after Tom Starzl who was best known for his contributions to the field of organ transplantation, and often referred to as the “father of transplantation”. The award recognizes individuals who, though advanced and original work, have contributed significantly to transplantation, thereby reflecting the spirit pioneered by Dr. Starzl.
Early in his career, Dr. Starzl recognized the importance of deceased donation. He pioneered many facets of transplantation, including immunosuppressive drug development, organ preservation, tissue matching, surgical transplant technology, and developed the team approach to organ transplantation; thus paving the way for the success and acceptance of heart, lung, pancreas, intestinal, liver, and kidney transplantation. The international impact of the fruits of seven decades of commitment to transplantation is shown by estimates of over 600 000 Americans and millions of patients around the world that have received a life-saving organ transplantation. He was also credited as having trained over 1,000 medical and surgical transplant specialists over his 50 years in clinical medicine, many of whom have gone on to successfully develop their own transplant program.

Supported by

Eligibility to Award

All full members in good standing will be eligible to be nominated for this award.

Frequency of Award

The Award will be given at each of the TTS Biennial congresses.

Selection of the Recipient

The Chair of the Selection Committee will be the then current TTS President, who will choose a selection committee of 3 among the Council members.

Monetary Award

The monetary award will be $10,000.



The Transplantation Society would like to congratulate Professor Jan Lerut on being the recipient of the 2022 TTS Thomas Starzl Innovation Award.

Professor Jan Lerut has dedicated his professional life to transplant surgery, particularly liver and hepatobiliary surgery. In 2005, he founded the Starzl Transplant center in Brussels, Belgium. Under Professor Lerut’s leadership, the center has performed more than 2500 liver transplants (1,500 adults and 1,000 children) in addition to 4,000 kidney transplants.

Professor Lerut will deliver his acceptance speech during the President's Plenary session on Wednesday, September 14 duuring our TTS 2022 Congress being held in Buenos Aires from September 10-14, 2022.


The Transplantation Society would like to congratulate Andreas G. Tzakis on being the recipient of the 2020 TTS Thomas Starzl Innovation Award.

Dr. Andreas Tzakis has been involved in transplantation for more than 35 years, and has contributed to many of its aspects. He received his education at the University of Athens School of Medicine and National University of Athens in Athens Greece, as well as at SUNY at Stony Brook in New York. He completed his multiorgan transplant fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh.

Dr. Tzakis advanced through the academic ranks at the Universityof Pittsburgh, where he became Professor of Surgery and was Director of the Pediatric Transplant(program at the Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh (CHP). At this time the pediatric program at CHP was the busiest in the United States, and it developed the first ever successful multivisceral transplant program in the world.

Dr. Tzakis was then recruited as a tenured Professor of Surgery at the University of Miami School of Medicine and Director of the Transplant Program at Jackson Memorial Hospital. He then joined the Cleveland Clinic Florida as the Director of Abdominal Transplantation in 2012. He is also Professor of Surgery at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine.

Dr. Tzakis has been a member of notable scientific and professional societies and has held leadership positions in those societies, serving on the Council of the International Pediatric Transplant Association, as President of the Intestinal Transplant Association, and Councilor of the Transplantation Society.

Dr. Tzakis has published over 700 publications, 40 book chapters and numerous abstracts. He has received funding from the NIH, CTOT/ITN and industry.

During his career, Dr. Tzakis has contributed to many aspects of transplantation, including:

  • description and reporting of the first series of piggyback liver transplants obviating the need for veno-venous bypass
  • developing intestinal transplantation in children;
  • advancing the use of immunosuppressive protocols, including an important role in tacrolimus testing;
  • transplantation of HIV positive recipients;
  • demonstrating the utility of donor derived NK cells in minimizing HCC recurrence;
  • tolerance protocols with one of the largest immunosuppression-free liver transplant populations in the world;
  • developing abdominal wall composite tissue transplantation, and most recently;
  • preclinical and clinical advances in uterine transplantation with an overall success rate of live birth.

In the latter effort, he was a key member in the preclinical primate studies and working with the Swedish group analyzing anatomy, vasculature and logistics before embarking on the clinical trial demonstrating the utility of uterine transplantation with an overall success rate of live birth pregnancies of 70%. Dr. Tzakis organized and performed the first successful cadaveric uterine transplant at the Cleveland Clinic.

Lastly, Dr. Tzakis has been a consummate teacher, having trained more than 200 surgeons, many of whom have gone on to lead their own programs around the world.

Thomas Starzl at the second TTS Congress (pictured in the middle row between Joseph Murray and Ray Owen).



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