Robert A. Fisher, MD, FACS

Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School 


Chief of Transplantation, BIDMC

Research Group

Giuseppe Pettinato, PhD
Melissa Thompson

Research Focus

I took the lead in the NIH-funded multicenter "A2ALL" (Adult to Adult Living Donor Liver Transplant) prospective study. Of the original nine PIs in participating centers in the United States, I was one of only six of them to hold the U01 for both five-year complete grant periods, including the three-year extension. This study has become the landmark trial for living-donor liver transplant in this country since its inception in 2001 and completion on August 31, 2014, with the receipt of over $8 million in NIH and private funding over the years. In early 2016 we received approval from UNOS to reinstate the living donor liver transplant program at BIDMC, and since then four successful adult LDLTs have been performed, with three more scheduled for 2018.

In addition to the A2ALL NIH multicenter trial, I was awarded NIH funding for spinoff studies looking at genomics and proteomics of hepatitis-C-associated cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), which produced landmark results and publications describing profiles of patients with hepatitis-C who develop HCC and which patients will have a high risk of recurrence after transplantation.

Success in both scientific research and clinical hepatocyte transplantation since 1991 has led to my strong involvement in the field of cell transplantation, with frequent invitations to chair or moderate sessions at national and international meetings of organ transplant and cell transplant societies. I have been formally appointed to the Editorial Boards of Liver Transplantation, Cell Transplantation, and Cell R4 Journal. I am also an ad hoc reviewer of many journals in the field and abstract reviewer for the American Transplant Congress, International Liver Transplantation Society, The Transplantation Society, and the International Cancer Association. I am also honored to serve as President of the Cell Transplant and Regenerative Medicine Society (September 2017-September 2019).

Melissa Thompson, BS, Cell Transplant Specialist, is my Research Program Manager for all laboratory operations. We are the center at BIDMC for hepatocyte and stem cell transplant, with continuation of my FDA IND in hepatocyte transplantation which started in Richmond. Giuseppe Pettinato, PhD, Instructor in Surgery, is the Director of my Stem Cell Lab. BIDMC has an American Society of Transplant Surgeons (ASTS)-accredited Kidney Fellowship Program and my expectation is to reinstate our ASTS-accredited Liver Fellowship Program, eventually extending that to an ASTS-accredited Pancreas Program, and finally an accredited Hepatobiliary Surgery Program combined with the Hepatobiliary Surgery Group here at BIDMC after the Lahey merger practice legalities are completed.

Accomplishments 2016-2017

  • President of the Cell Transplant and Regenerative Medicine Society
  • Serve on Board of Directors for the American Foundation for Donation and Transplantation
  • Member of the editorial boards for Liver Transplantation, Liver Disease Review Letters, Medscape, LL Transplantation Editorial Advisory Board, Transplantation Proceedings, World Journal of Transplantation, and Cell R4 Journal
Invited Presentations
  • Tissue engineering and biomaterials for regenerative medicine; 9th World Congress of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell, Seoul, South Korea, 2016
  • Challenges in clinical translation with hepatocytes; Center for Drug Safety and Research, Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Workshop on Novel Biotechnology in Liver Diseases, Shanghai, China, 2017
  • Differentiation of hiPSC into hepatocyte-like clusters; Center for Drug Safety and Research, Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Workshop on Novel
  • Biotechnology in Liver Diseases, Shanghai, China, 2017
  • Challenges in clinical translation with hepatocytes; Canadian Society of Transplantation/Cell Transplant and Regenerative Medicine Society Joint Scientific Meeting; Halifax, Nova Scotia, 2017

Teaching, Training, and Education

It has been my privilege to nurture students, residents, fellows, undergraduates and research students by teaching and challenging them on the floor, in clinic, in the OR, and in my research lab. Some of my trainees have gone on to illustrious careers of their own, and at least two are now department chairs.
Since my arrival at BIDMC in the fall of 2014, I have given invited talks and in-services to multiple departments in the hospital, especially in the clinical area of live donor liver transplantation, including two daylong multidisciplinary Mock Drills to teach the processes and procedures involved in this difficult surgery to peers, nurses and OR staff. I have also been an invited speaker at regional conferences including the Nurses' Conference at the New England Organ Bank, and courses such as the HMS course "Advances in Gastroenterology.”

Selected Research Support

Advancing Renal Transplant Efficacy and Safety Outcomes with Everolimus-based regimen (TRANSFORM); Novartis Pharmaceuticals, 2015-2017; Co-PI: Robert A. Fisher, MD

Allogenic Hepatocyte Transplant for Chronic Liver Failure Support, with Y-90 HCC Rx to Increase Hepatocyte Nidation; FDA, 2010-present; PI: Robert A. Fisher, MD

Selected Publications

Pettinato G, Ramanathan R, Fisher RA, Mangino MJ, Zhang N, Wen X. Scalable differentiation of human iPSCs in a multicellular spheroid-based 3D culture into hepatocyte-like cells through direct Wnt/β-catenin pathway inhibition. Sci Rep 2016;6:32888.
Butt Z, Dew MA, Liu Q, Simpson MA, Smith AR, Zee J, Gillespie BW, Abbey SE, Ladner DP, Weinrieb R, Fisher RA, Hafliger S, Terrault N, Burton J, Sherker AH, Di Martini A. Psychological outcomes of living liver donors from a multi-center, prospective study: Results from the adult to adult living donor liver transplantation cohort study (A2ALL). Am J Transplant 2017;17(5):1267-1277.

DiMartini A, Dew MA, Liu Q, Simpson MA, Ladner DP, Smith AR, Zee J, Abbey S, Gillespie BW, Weinrieb R, Mandell MS, Fisher RA, Emond JC, Freise CE, Sherker AH, Butt Z. Social and financial outcomes of living liver donation: a prospective investigation within the Adult-to-Adult Living Liver Cohort Study-2 (A2ALL-2). Am J Transplant 2017;17(4):1081-1096.

Fisher RA. Living donor liver transplantation: eliminating the wait for death in end-stage liver disease? Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol 2017;14(6):373-82.

Dew MA, Butt Z, Liu Q, Simpson MA, Zee J, Ladner DP, Holtzman S, Smith AR, Pomfret EA, Merion RM, Gillespie BW, Sherker AH, Fisher RA, Olthoff KM, Burton JR Jr, Terrault NA, Fox AN, DiMartini AF. Prevalence and predictors of patient-reported long-term mental and physical health after donation in the Adult to Adult Living Donor Liver Transplantation Cohort Study (A2ALL). Transplantation 2018;102(1):105-118.