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Paulo Martins recognized as Rising Star by International Liver Transplant Society

By Megan Bard

UMass Medical School Communications

July 18, 2018
  Paulo Martins, MD, PhD, accepts the Rising Star Award from Patrizia Burra, MD, PhD, at the International Liver Transplant Society congress, in Lisbon, Portugal.
 

Paulo Martins, MD, PhD, accepts the Rising Star Award from Patrizia Burra, MD, PhD, at the International Liver Transplant Society congress, in Lisbon, Portugal.

Paulo Martins, MD, PhD, assistant professor of surgery and a transplant surgeon at UMass Memorial Health Care, has been recognized for his pioneering work in the area of liver transplantation by the International Liver Transplant Society.

Dr. Martins received the Rising Star Award at the society’s annual congress in Lisbon, Portugal, for research into improving the quality of liver grafts by machine perfusion preservation and gene modulation with RNA interference.

“Through this innovative translational approach, our lab is performing experiments that could have a major clinical impact for a common and relevant problem like organ shortage,” said Martins. “With this approach, there is potential to increase the pool of livers for transplant, reduce the mortality on the waiting list and reduce morbidity and mortality of patients after liver transplant.”

According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, nearly 117,000 people were on the national transplant waiting list as of July 2018. Of those, on average, 20 people die each day waiting for a transplant.

Martin’s research is focused on innovative ways to improve organ preservation by using liver machine perfusion—a method of continuously perfusing the organ under a more physiologic temperature during the whole preservation time—instead of the standard method of cold preservation in an ice box. In doing so, the Martins lab is testing whether gene silencing using siRNAs during machine perfusion preservation could reduce ischemia reperfusion injury. This approach may also be able to optimize grafts that are initially deemed not transplantable.

Martins’ research is partially funded through the UMMS Faculty Diversity Scholars Program and the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases Career in Transplantation grant.

Martins’ lab collaborates with various UMMS departments, including the Department of Microbiology & Physiological Systems; the RNA Therapeutic Institute; the Department of Surgery; and the Department of Medicine. Martins also works with scientists from the Department of Surgery at Groningen University in The Netherlands.