On December 1, 2022, the Section of Abdominal Transplant welcomed Robert A. Montgomery, MD, PhD, to the School of Medicine to deliver a presentation at the 13th Annual Anderson-Newton Lectureship in Transplantation.
Established in 2004, this lectureship honors the groundbreaking careers of Charles B. Anderson, MD, and his teacher and colleague William T. Newton, MD. Newton, widely known as the father of transplantation in St. Louis, performed the first kidney transplant in the city in 1963. Ten years later in 1973, Anderson, who trained alongside several other prominent transplant surgeons under Newton, formally established the kidney transplant program at Barnes Hospital.
Individually, both Anderson and Newton made enormous strides in advancing kidney transplantation practices. Anderson contributed revolutionary research on donor-specific transfusions; Newton advocated for the pioneering of living-unrelated kidney donation. While both concepts sparked controversy at first, both have become major contributions to the safe and effective practice of abdominal transplantation worldwide. In their work together, Anderson and Newton revolutionized transplant practices with their writing, research and clinical work. In 1979, they published the seminal paper on pre-surgical blood transfusions in kidney transplant patients. This practice, along with several others pioneered by the pair, was controversial at the time of its conception, but has since become an extensively researched and internationally utilized procedure.
In addition to their major contributions to the field as a whole, both surgeons left long-lasting impacts at Washington University. Both held prominent leadership positions within the School of Medicine and Barnes Hospital and worked together to establish the pediatric kidney transplant program at St. Louis Children’s Hospital in the 1970s. Their legacies live on in the exceptional trainees and faculty working hard to advance the field of transplantation in the Department of Surgery today. “We owe a substantial debt to both of them,” says William Chapman, MD, who serves as chief of the Section of Abdominal Transplant.
To honor their efforts and contributions, their namesake lectureship offers a podium to a guest speaker recognized for making great strides in advancing the field. Speakers are chosen to inspire residents and fellows, expand horizons and present cutting-edge innovations in the field today.
Montgomery is considered a world expert on kidney transplantation for highly sensitized and ABO incompatible patients and cares for patients with some of the most complex cases worldwide. His career has been highly focused on advancing the field of transplantation and his research and contributions have made massive strides for the quality of patient care and the availability of donor organs. Montgomery currently serves as H. Leon Patchter Chair and Professor of Transplant and Hepatobiliary Surgery at New York University and Director of the NYU Langone Transplant Institute. He previously served as Chief of Transplant Surgery and Director of the Comprehensive Transplant Center at Johns Hopkins University for over a decade. While at Hopkins, Montgomery participated in a number of groundbreaking research efforts, including the development of the laparoscopic procedure for live kidney donation, the conception of the Domino Paired Donation and the realization of the Hopkins protocol for desensitization of incompatible kidney transplant patients. Montgomery performed the first chain of transplants started by an altruistic donor and is credited in the 2010 Guinness Book of World Records for the record of most kidney transplants performed in one day. His contributions to research and clinical practice have advanced the field of abdominal transplant immeasurably and his tireless passion and dedication continue to move the field forward into the future.
“Dr. Montgomery is one of the most renowned innovators in transplantation over the course of his career and longstanding interest in the field of transplantation,” Chapman, who also serves as chief of the Division of General Surgery, said of Montgomery. “I don’t know another person who has persevered and achieved the accomplishments we’ve all seen today.”
Montgomery’s presentation, entitled “Xenotransplantation: Turning the corner at last,” detailed his personal history with transplantation, impressive career and current developments in his research on xenotransplantation. This significant research is the most recent endeavor in Montgomery’s longstanding efforts to find innovative solutions to the longstanding problem of donor organ shortages worldwide.
“I’ve been a patient and a surgeon focused on transplantation my whole career,” said Montgomery. “I am dedicated to the cause of providing more organs for the people who need it.”
Montgomery closed his lecture with a note of thanks to all who have helped contribute to his research and accepted questions from Washington University trainees and faculty, detailing massive potential in his recent work and hope for the future of transplantation research and practices.
The Anderson-Newton Lectureship in Transplantation is sponsored by The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital, The Washington University/Barnes Jewish Transplant Center, and Mid-America Transplant.