2014 Harry Shwachman Award Emily Senerth


he Harry Shwachman Award is given by the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition (NASPGHAN) to a person who has made major, lifelong scientific or educational contributions to the field of pediatric gastroenterology, hepatology, or nutrition in North America. The award is designed to preferentially honor a member of NASPGHAN for his or her achievements in the field.

The 2014 Shwachman Award recipient is Peter F. Whitington, MD, Director of the Siragusa Transplantation Center at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago (formerly Children’s Memorial Hospital), Chicago, Illinois, Sally Burnett Searle Professor of Pediatrics and Transplantation, and Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago. Dr Whitington has made numerous important, game-changing contributions in the fields of pediatric hepatology and liver transplantation. Peter graduated with a degree in economics from Tulane University, New Orleans, LA, received his MD degree from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and remained at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, Memphis, for pediatric residency, including 1 year as the chief. He began research on bilirubin metabolism as a fellow in gastroenterology at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, and then followed his mentor Gerald Odell to the University of Wisconsin, Madison, to continue his research. In 1978, he moved to the University of Tennessee, as an attending in both gastroenterology and critical care, and shortly thereafter, was appointed the chief of pediatric gastroenterology. He was promoted to associate professor in 1981, where he became one of the pioneers in pediatric liver transplantation. In 1984, he was recruited to the University of Chicago, where he established an innovative, internationally recognized pediatric liver transplant program and introduced a new model of posttransplant care on the basis of equal partnership between medical and surgical teams. Together with his surgical colleague Christoph Broelsch, Peter introduced strategies to expand the pediatric donor pool, such as reduced-sized and/or split-liver transplants, and they performed the first living-donor liver transplant in the United States. Peter led groundbreaking clinical and translational studies that defined the use of immunosuppression in liver transplantation and management of complications in this complex patient group. The program attracted outstanding trainees, many of whom have assumed leadership positions in pediatric transplantation. Peter was promoted to professor of pediatrics and medicine at the University of Chicago in 1992. In 1997, he Received January 23, 2015; accepted February 10, 2015. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Emily Senerth, Wolters Kluwer Health, Philadelphia, PA 19103 (e-mail: emily.senerth@wolters kluwer.com). The author reports no conflicts of interest. Copyright # 2015 by European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition and North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition DOI: 10.1097/MPG.0000000000000764


Volume 60, Number 5, May 2015

moved to Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, as the Chief of the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology and established the Siragusa Transplantation Center at Lurie Children’s Hospital, Chicago. Under his leadership, multidisciplinary programs in inflammatory bowel disease, motility, and allergic bowel disease were established, and an internationally recognized program in liver transplant outcomes research and basic science studies examining the mechanisms of injury in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and gestational alloimmune liver disease were developed. Peter has made significant scientific contributions in the field of pediatric cholestatic liver disease. He was among the first to recognize the characteristic clinicopathological aspects of familial cholestasis in the setting of low-serum g-glutamyl transpeptidase, and his clinical observations have led to the development of the partial-cutaneous biliary diversion (the Whitington procedure) that remains the only nontransplant therapy for children with progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis. In collaboration with investigators in the NASH Clinical Research Network, his work was instrumental in defining the role of osteopontin and the hedgehog pathway in liver injury and fibrosis in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. During the past 15 years, his laboratory and clinical research team defined the mechanism of injury in infants with phenotypic neonatal iron storage disease, and characterized the pathophysiology and treatment of gestational alloimmune liver disease, now recognized as a common cause of second trimester fetal loss. His research has provided the basis for an effective therapy in this devastating disorder. Throughout his career, Peter has been extensively involved in professional activities in pediatric gastroenterology and transplantation. He has served on the Executive Council of NASPGHAN; the Public Policy, Pediatric Guidelines, and Pediatric Committees of the American Society of Transplantation; and was a founding member of the Studies of Pediatric Liver Transplantation. He has contributed extensive services to the United Network of Organ Sharing and has been a member of the editorial boards of Liver Transplantation, Pediatric Transplantation, and the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition. He has served as a board member for many patient advocacy organizations, including the American Liver Foundation, the Alagille Syndrome Alliance, and the Johnny Genna Foundation. He has authored more than 200 peer-reviewed papers and more than 100 chapters and invited reviews in a variety of areas in pediatric digestive diseases and has been an invited lecturer in numerous countries. Peter regards teaching and guiding young physicians as his proudest accomplishment. His legacy to the medical community includes more than 30 fellows in pediatric gastroenterology and transplant hepatology and numerous surgical fellows, critical care fellows, and medical students. Many of his former fellows and students are now independently funded investigators, directors of liver transplant programs, and prominent members of our Society. Peter is to be congratulated for the scientific and clinical contributions he has made to help shape the current field of pediatric hepatology. Throughout his career of nearly 40 years, he has distinguished himself as an innovative investigator who approaches difficult and perplexing problems with ingenuity, a steadfast drive, and remarkable insight.


Copyright 2015 by ESPGHAN and NASPGHAN. Unauthorized reproduction of this article is prohibited.

2014 Harry Shwachman award.

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