Thomas Gonwa, MD, Receives AST Lifetime Achievement Award

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Tom GonwaThe American Society of Transplantation (AST) awarded its highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award, to Thomas Gonwa, MD, at the recent American Transplant Congress (ATC) in Boston. The Lifetime Achievement Award honors a senior investigator whose work has advanced the field of transplantation.

Dr. Gonwa earned his medical degree from the University of Illinois in 1975, then completed his residency and fellowship in Nephrology at North Carolina Baptist Hospital, Bowman Gray School of Medicine of Wake Forest University. Following this, he completed a post-doctoral fellowship in Immunology at the University of California San Francisco.

A successful program leader, Dr. Gonwa helped bring the Baylor University Medical Center renal and liver transplant programs to prominence in the 1990s. He then moved to the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida in 2001 where he has built an outstanding solid organ transplant program. He has also guided the Mayo system toward recognizing the need for a focus on regenerative medicine as the field advances.

Dr. Gonwa served the AST (formerly the American Society of Transplant Physicians – ASTP) in multiple capacities, most notably as Secretary-Treasurer from 1990-1993 and as President from 1994-1995. From 1995-1998 he chaired the Public Policy Committee, and he served as the AST website’s first editor.

During his time in office, he recognized the need for the young AST to acquire professional management services and to develop an increased presence in Washington, DC. By contracting with professional services to meet these needs, Dr. Gonwa helped the AST grow into the robust, inclusive society it is today.

“There is probably no other single individual who has made a greater contribution to the AST’s success,” said AST President Anil Chandraker. “He was a key player in transforming our fledgling association into the premier society for transplantation professionals.”

A prolific clinical investigator, Dr. Gonwa is most known for his seminal work on chronic kidney disease in patients undergoing liver transplantation. He has co-authored or authored 188 original papers and 10 book chapters, and has mentored many research fellows.

This year’s AST Lifetime Achievement Award is presented in honor of Dr. Paul Terasaki, who passed away in January 2016. Dr. Terasaki developed the test that eventually became the international standard method for tissue typing. The test assesses the compatibility of organ donors and recipients and has been used for all kidney, heart, liver, pancreas, lung, and bone marrow donors and recipients for the past 40 years.

About the AST

With 3,500 members, the American Society of Transplantation (AST) is the largest organization in North America representing transplantation professionals. The society is dedicated to advancing the field and improving patient care by promoting research, education, advocacy, and organ donation. The AST’s diverse membership includes physicians, surgeons, scientists, nurses, administrators, and other allied health professionals. For more information, visit