Professor Jerzy Kupiec-Weglinski

Professor Jerzy Kupiec-Weglinski, MD, PhD, a member of the CURE:DDRC, has been named the first incumbent of The Paul I Terasaki Chair in Surgery, a major achievement that crowns his brilliant career in organ transplantation, especially liver.

Dr. Kupiec-Weglinski is a Professor of Surgery, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine; Vice-Chairman, Basic Science Research in the Department of Surgery; and Director of the Dumont-UCLA Transplantation Research Laboratories in the Division of Liver and Pancreas Transplantation.

Dr. Paul Terasaki (September 10, 1929 – January 25, 2016) was one of the giants in organ transplantation. A great innovator and a visionary, he spent most of his professional life at UCLA and made enormous contributions to the field of modern medicine and society in general. His seminal research focused on the study of transplant rejection. Dr. Terasaki developed a tissue typing microcytotoxicity test and established UCLA’s HLA Laboratory and UCLA Kidney Transplant Registry, the largest in the world. One of the research structures at the UCLA campus is known as the Terasaki Life Sciences Building.

Dr. Kupiec-Weglinski’s career in experimental organ transplantation spans over 35 years. After graduating from Medical School in Warsaw and obtaining his PhD in the Polish Academy of Sciences, Jerzy spent 18 years at the Surgical Research Laboratories, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and was an Associate Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School. UCLA successfully recruited him to the Division of Liver and Pancreas Transplantation in 1997 and he has been leading our research efforts since that time.  He truly remains at the forefront of cutting-edge research and advances in transplantation that have contributed directly to its success. These include:

  • lymphocyte trafficking and recirculation;
  • introduction and validation of a new concept of IL-2 receptor targeted therapy in organ transplantation;
  • seminal studies on recipient sensitization to MHC antigens;
  • discovering striking cytoprotective functions of heme oxygenase in tissue damage; and
  • discovering T cell Immunoglobulin Mucin costimulation as central regulators of innate/adaptive cell differentiation in hepatic ischemia-reperfusion injury in liver transplant recipients.

Jerzy has contributed over 450 scientific papers, including 220 original reports, to the literature. Additionally, he has mentored more than 40 surgical fellows and researchers, many of whom currently hold leadership positions in the US and overseas. His research has been continuously funded by the NIH since 1988. He currently serves as a Principal Investigator on 4 federal grants, including three RO1s and a DoD grant and as a Program Director for a UCLA interdisciplinary PO1 initiative soon to be funded by the NIH.

Dr. Kupiec-Weglinski is the recipient of Honorary Doctorate (“Honoris Causa”) of his alma mater, Warsaw Medical Academy; Foreign Member, Polish Academy of Sciences; and Foreign Member, Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences. In sum, Dr. Kupiec-Weglinski is a transplant researcher, scholar and teacher of the highest distinction whose innovative work has been internationally recognized and acclaimed.