Pioneering Surgeon Rodrigo Vianna, M.D., Named Director of Miami Transplant Institute

Rodrigo Vianna, M.D., one of the world’s most experienced multiorgan transplant surgeons, has been named Director of Transplant Services and Chief of Liver and Gastrointestinal Transplant at the Miami Transplant Institute, a collaborative program between the Miller School of Medicine and Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Vianna, who completed his training at the University of Miami at Jackson Memorial Hospital, joins the Miller School faculty and an expanded leadership team at the institute after a decade at Indiana University School of Medicine, where he built the nation’s largest volume Intestinal/Multivisceral Transplant program, and dramatically reduced the average operating time – and thus recovery time – for liver transplants.

“We are grateful to Jackson’s leadership and to Dr. Gaetano Ciancio for their help in bringing Dr. Vianna home,” said Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the Miller School and CEO of UHealth. “He brings a level of technical expertise that will be of extraordinary benefit to our patients and partners.”

Vianna said he was drawn back to the University of Miami at Jackson, where he completed two transplant fellowships, by the opportunity to lead one of the largest and most comprehensive transplant programs in the world, and by the united commitment of the University of Miami and Jackson to advance it further. Last year, the transplant program was the only one in the nation to earn three silver awards from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for kidney, kidney/pancreas, and lung transplant outcomes.

“We have a fantastic program here, but there is always room for improvement, especially on the liver and multivisceral side,” Vianna said. “We have the opportunity to make it the best. Not one of the best – the best. We can accomplish that here because, between the University of Miami and Jackson, we have the commitment and all the components in place.’’

Vianna also will serve on the institute’s new Transplant Governing Board, playing a key role in developing the program’s strategic direction with Ciancio, M.D., M.B.A., a celebrated kidney surgeon who has helped establish kidney transplant programs around the world. Ciancio is assuming the roles of Chief Medical Officer and Chief Academic Officer to promote and develop physician relationships, identify, recruit and cultivate talent, grow academic programs, lead the institute’s research, and guide outreach.

Giselle Guerra, M.D., assistant professor of medicine and Director of the Kidney Living Donor Program, also is taking on the role of Medical Director, and will focus on integrating the medical services and improving outreach. She also will play a key role in reviewing and restructuring patient flow and organizing and implementing each medical specialty’s quality-assurance projects.

Born and raised in southern Brazil, Vianna earned his medical degree at the Federal University of Parana, where as a student in 1992 he observed the first liver transplant performed in his home city of Curitiba. At the conclusion of the 20-hour operation, Vianna was on his career path.

“I thought it was unbelievable,” he recalled. “I saw it as a fascinating and challenging field and wanted to be part of it.”

After completing his general and gastrointestinal surgery training in Brazil, he was selected for two successive fellowships at the University of Miami at Jackson’s transplant program, the first in transplant research and the second in clinical transplantation, which he completed in 2003. He then headed to Indianapolis to expand Indiana University’s liver transplant program and launch its intestinal and multivisceral program for both children and adults.

Within nine years, he had pioneered technical modifications that enabled liver transplants to be performed in less than four hours––half the average time at most centers. He also created the nation’s premier intestinal and multivisceral program for children and adults, performing more than 100 of the individually customized procedures in the past four years and achieving outstanding outcomes.

Often involving the replacement of the small intestine, stomach, pancreas, liver and sometimes the kidney, multivisceral transplants are most often used for patients with intestinal failure or digestive disorders who develop complications from intravenous nutrition. Vianna successfully expanded the use of multivisceral transplantation for patients with extensive thrombosis of the mesenteric venous system and as a viable and lifesaving option for some cancer patients whose tumors have invaded the abdominal region.

The author or coauthor of more than 40 journal articles and 134 abstracts, Vianna is a member of several medical societies, including the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, the Intestinal Transplant Society, the American Society of Transplant Surgeons, the Association for Academic Surgery, and the Brazilian College of Surgeons. In 2011, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Brazilian College of Surgeons for his contributions in the transplant field.

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