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February 1, 2011

UVA Transplant Surgeon Becomes President of UNOS During a Time of Far-Reaching Policy Change

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Dr. Timothy L. Pruett of the University of Virginia Health System jokingly recalls a pivotal point in his life. Aptitude tests showed he was best suited for careers in forestry, farming or medicine. An interest in chemistry and philosophy prompted him to choose medicine. It is a choice that has benefited thousands of patients and significantly impacted the nation’s organ transplantation policies.

Dr. Pruett, who regularly performs liver and transplant surgery on children and adults at UVa, has become president of United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS), the non-profit organization that manages the nation’s Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) under contract with the U.S. government. The OPTN brings together medical professionals, transplant recipients and donor families to develop organ transplantation policy.

As OPTN/UNOS president, Dr. Pruett will navigate the organization through a time of major and far-reaching policy changes, including live donor program oversight and a major revision of the kidney allocation policies.  Additionally, the continuing shortage of transplantable organs has challenged the transplant network to work harder to find ways to help those in need.

On faculty at UVa since 1988, Dr. Pruett is chief of the Charles O. Strickler Transplant Center. Celebrating its 40 th anniversary this year, the Strickler Center is the hub of UVa’s transplant program, which is the busiest and most comprehensive in Virginia.

Under Dr. Pruett’s leadership, the Strickler Center earned designation as Virginia’s first Medicare-approved liver transplant provider and gained international recognition for its transplant research. Studies at the center have influenced how transplant programs around the world care for patients with various diseases, particularly hepatitis B.

Dr. Pruett earned his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. In addition to his long-term involvement with UNOS/OPTN, he has held leadership positions with the South-Eastern Organ Procurement Foundation, Virginia’s Organ Procurement Agency, LifeNet, the Health Resources and Services Administration, and the Adult-to-Adult Living Liver Donation consortium. He has served on the editorial board of several academic journals, written chapters for textbooks and published hundreds of research studies. Dr. Pruett continues to be involved in studies sponsored by the NIH to find solutions to transplantation related problems.

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