Michael Abecassis, MD, MBA, the James Roscoe Miller Distinguished Professor of Medicine and founding director of the Comprehensive Transplant Center, has been named the winner of the 2018 Tripartite Legacy Faculty Prize in Translational Science and Education.
“Winning this award is both flattering and humbling. I think this is a really important award because it is recognition of what my career and academic medicine really revolve around: the tripartite mission,” said Abecassis, also chief of Organ Transplantation in the Department of Surgery.
The Tripartite Legacy award is presented annually to a faculty member who has demonstrated excellence in research that emphasizes translational approaches, teaching, mentoring and leadership.
Abecassis’ scientific investigations include basic science approaches, such as using virology to identify viruses to which transplant patients are susceptible, and social science approaches to examine quality of life for transplant patients and donors. He is also actively involved in translational work, including identifying biomarkers to measure the impact of transplant outcomes.
“The overarching goal of my research is to make life better for patients who need transplants and who get transplants, so anything that comes along that’s an opportunity to do that, regardless of what the actual project is, is something that I can get very excited about,” Abecassis said.
In 2009, he founded the Comprehensive Transplant Center with the mission to provide the best possible clinical care for transplant patients by combining high-impact research and well-regarded training programs in transplantation.
“Clinically, it takes a big team to get patients to a transplant and through a transplant and that has become the norm in research for the types of research we do. Creating the Comprehensive Transplant Center was meant to take down silos between disciplines in order to accomplish the very best patient care and research,” Abecassis said. “The concept of team science is exactly what transplant research is all about.”
Abecassis has been grant-funded for more than 27 years and currently has four active grants from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He has also published more than 260 peer-reviewed papers and has trained dozens of clinicians and scientists.
“He really sets himself apart from most leaders in the field as being very visionary and really an amazing mentor by creating a lot of opportunities for everybody who works with him,” said Daniela Ladner, MD, MPH, associate professor of Surgery in the Division of Organ Transplantation.
Abecassis earned his MD and MSc from the University of Toronto, Ontario and completed postdoctoral clinical and research training at the University of Toronto and the University of Iowa. He began his career at Northwestern in 1992 as an associate professor in the Department of Surgery and earned his MBA from Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management. Throughout his 26-year career at Northwestern, he has held numerous faculty, hospital and administrative positions including Dean of Clinical Affairs, Director of the Kidney Transplantation Program and Founding Director of the Comprehensive Transplant Center, a position he’s held since 2009.