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Paulo Martins receives second award for accomplishments in liver transplant research

Medical student Andrew Gillooly honored for contribution to Martins lab

By Megan Bard

UMass Medical School Communications

February 05, 2019
   Paulo N. Martins, MD, PhD

Paulo N. Martins, MD, PhD

  Andrew Gillooly

Andrew Gillooly, 'SOM19

The American Society of Transplant Surgeons has recognized Paulo N. Martins, MD, PhD, assistant professor of surgery and a transplant surgeon at UMass Memorial Health Care, with the 2019 Veloxis Rising Stars in Transplantation Surgery Award for his research of transplant immunobiology.

This is the second such award for Dr. Martins, who was recognized by the International Liver Transplant Society in 2018.

“I feel very honored to have obtained these two high meritorious awards,” Martins said. “When I started this project, I was sure that it had great potential but was not sure how I would carry on the project since I have a very busy schedule in the UMass [Memorial] transplant center. I had to set up cooperation with local and external partners and to use all possible help I could find, including UMass Medical School students. I was in the right place and at the right time.”

Andrew Gillooly, SOM ’19, received the American Society of Transplant Surgeons Sherilyn Gordon Memorial Travel Award in recognition of his pursuit of a career in transplant surgery and his contribution to Martins’ research in his lab.

The Martins lab focuses on transplant immunobiology, specifically as it pertains to organ preservation and ischemia reperfusion. Martins is researching innovative ways to mitigate liver damage and organ repair by means of gene silencing with siRNAs inside nanoparticles during liver machine perfusion preservation. This approach may also be able to optimize grafts that are initially deemed not transplantable.

In the past year, Martins has published two papers in leading transplant journals in which his lab was able to use siRNA during ex-vivo machine perfusion preservation.

“This has a great potential for clinical application to both improve transplant outcomes and increase the pool of organs available for transplantation. I hope that in the future after confirming safety and efficiency of RNA interference during ex-vivo machine preservation of organs, our team could do clinical trials,” Martins said.

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.

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. 

Related stories on UMassMedNow:
Paulo Martins recognized as Rising Star by International Liver Transplant Society
Paulo Martins named recipient of 2015 ASTS Vanguard Prize