“We join the Lasker Foundation in celebrating Dr. Starzl’s lifetime of achievement in medical research,” Mr. Shinseki said. “Dr. Starzl’s work is a shining example of what our physician-researchers accomplish on behalf of Veterans and all Americans.”
He shares the Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award for 2012 with Roy Y. Calne of the University of Cambridge in England. Both men were recognized for their development of liver transplantation, which has restored life to thousands of patients with end-stage liver disease.
A World War II naval veteran, Dr. Starzl began his VA career in the 1950s as a resident surgeon in the Chicago VA Research Hospital, now part of the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center.
“Dr. Starzl’s selection as a recipient of the Lasker-DeBakey award is a well-deserved tribute to an exceptional career of service to Veterans and to all mankind,” said Dr. Robert Petzel, VA undersecretary for health. “Every successful transplant accomplished by VA surgeons, and by surgeons everywhere, is a tribute to his skill as a physician and a researcher. His work has changed the way in which medicine is practiced forever.”
In 1962, after joining the University of Colorado and the Denver VA Medical Center, Dr. Starzl conducted the first long-term successful kidney transplant at VA’s Denver facility.
A year later, in 1963, Dr. Starzl attempted the first human liver transplant. Several subsequent operations proved that transplanted livers could remain viable. Dr. Starzl worked to improve the procedure and began transplanting livers again in 1967. Today, the world’s longest survivor has carried her transplanted liver for more than four decades.
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