Heart Transplant Program
Research and Development
The Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery has established outstanding clinical programs in heart and lung transplantation, supported by an active research program focused on understanding the immunological basis of the response of the host to the new grafts. Our investigation of the pathways by which patients respond to foreign organ grafts has demonstrated the use of a unique and restricted pattern of immunological responses that can serve as a target for inhibition using specific molecules to block gene function.
The ability to specifically block the rejection of foreign organs, even those from unrelated species, is a unique therapeutic strategy that has the potential to eliminate the shortage of human organ donors. This is the primary limitation of our ability to use organ transplantation as a method to treat end-stage heart and lung diseases. In addition, our understanding of the type of responses made by a graft recipient has made it possible to isolate and potentially manipulate the expression of the genes that are responsible for encoding the targets for the reaction.