For working to make transplants more accessible for Virginians and develop a cure for diabetes, University of Virginia Health System surgeon Jose Oberholzer, MD, has received a 2019 Meritorious Service Award from the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association.
The director of the Charles O. Strickler Transplant Center at UVA since 2017, Oberholzer was presented his award earlier this year at the VHHA’s annual meeting.
“Until 2017, 40% of Virginians in need of an organ transplant were seeking care outside the commonwealth,” said Oberholzer, who has performed more than 1,000 transplant-related surgeries. “UVA’s leadership decided that this could not be the best way of receiving care, and in a great team effort, within two years, we almost doubled the number of organ transplants performed per year. We will continue on this growth and quality path until all Virginians in need can get a successful transplant at UVA.”
During his tenure at UVA, Oberholzer has focused on improving patients’ outcomes, increasing the number of Virginians volunteering as living organ donors and researching better treatments for diabetes and other chronic conditions as well as making surgery less-invasive and safer for diabetic and overweight patients. (He also dispels myths about organ donation in this VHHA podcast.). Oberholzer is a pioneer of minimally invasive, robotic-assisted transplants for patients who need a new kidney and/or pancreas, and also an expert in liver and small bowel transplantation.
“Dr. Oberholzer wants to ensure that anyone in Virginia can benefit from the services provided at UVA,” wrote Pamela M. Sutton-Wallace, acting executive vice president for health affairs at UVA and chief executive officer of UVA Medical Center, in her nomination letter.
Along with his breakthrough work to improve transplant care, he has also spent more than 20 years researching a cure for diabetes. Oberholzer is a co-founder of the Chicago Diabetes Project, which seeks to cure diabetes through islet cell transplantation.Oberholzer holds three patents and has helped found two start-up companies.