Titles and Roles
- Professor of Surgery, Division of Transplantation, Department of Surgery
- Emory University School of Medicine
- Affiliate Scientist
- Yerkes Primate Research Center
- Research Program
- Cancer Immunology
Christian P. Larsen, MD, DPhil, FACS, is Professor of Surgery in the Division of Transplantation of the Department of Surgery at Emory University School of Medicine and affiliate scientist at Yerkes Primate Research Center.
Dr. Larsen has made seminal contributions to the investigation of the immunologic mechanisms of transplant rejection and immunologic tolerance and is an internationally recognized leader in kidney and pancreas transplantation. He has been funded continuously by the NIH since 1996. The recipient of a prestigious NIH MERIT award, he has directed program project grants, center awards, and multi-institutional consortia.
With his long-time collaborator Dr. Thomas Pearson, Dr. Larsen initiated a transplant immunology research program that played a pivotal role in developing a new class of immunosuppressive drugs known as costimulation blockers. One such drug is belatacept, which Dr. Larsen, Dr. Pearson, and researchers at Bristol Myers Squibb began developing in the 1990s as a less toxic alternative to standard immunosuppressants. In 2011, the FDA approved belatacept in the form of the drug Nulojix for kidney transplant recipients. In 2015, the BENEFIT study, which was initiated in 2006 and led by Dr. Larsen and UCSF transplant specialist Dr. Flavio Vincenti, conclusively showed that belatacept had a better record of patient and organ survival than a calcineurin inhibitor.
In 2012, Dr. Larsen received an NIH grant for nearly $20 million to lead teams of multiple investigators attacking the problems of immunosuppression from different but complementary angles. The connective focus is continued development of more effective co-stimulation blockers for near-term treatment of transplant patients and better strategies for the "holy grail" of transplantation—long-term, true immune tolerance of transplanted organs.
Dr. Larsen began serving as executive director of the Emory Transplant Center in 2008 and chair of the Department of Surgery at Emory in 2009. He left both positions in January 2013 to serve as dean of the Emory University School of Medicine. In November 2016, Dr. Larsen returned to full-time pursuit of his clinical practice and research endeavors at the Department of Surgery and Emory Transplant Center.
In 2017, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases awarded Emory transplant researchers $12.6 million over five years to investigate improved post-transplant drug regimens for organ transplant recipients. Dr. Larsen leads the grant's project team, which includes Mandy Ford, PhD, at Emory, and Leslie Kean, MD, PhD, at Seattle Children's Hospital and the University of Washington. The project is continuing Dr. Larsen's work on costimulation blockers.
Dr. Larsen received his medical degree from Emory University School of Medicine. He was a Livingston Surgical Research Fellow at the University of Oxford, England, and he received his doctor of philosophy in transplantation immunology from Oxford. He completed general and transplantation surgery training at Stanford University and at Emory, where he was chief surgical resident and a fellow in transplantation surgery.
Dr. Larsen's research interests include:
- Investigations of the mechanisms involved in initiation and maintenance of T cell responses.
- Development of new immunosuppressive strategies to prevent transplant rejection and preserve protective immunity.
- Tightly linked projects and investigations that span basic, translational, and clinical research using murine, non-human primate, and human models.
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