Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients

The highest honor that the AST bestows on a member is its Lifetime Achievement Award, conferred for significant contributions to the society and to transplantation.  The 2020 and 2021 Lifetime Achievement Awards were recognized during the 2021 AST Awards Ceremony.

2021 Lifetime Achievement Award

Robert Ettenger, MD
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

The recipient of the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award was Dr. Robert Ettenger.  Dr. Ettenger, or Doctor Bob as his patients call him, is Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus of Pediatric Nephrology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He has been engaged in all aspects of Pediatric Kidney Transplantation since the mid-1970s.

Dr. Ettenger has been married to Dr. Angela Castellano for over 40 years. Their daughter Allison works in Maternal and Child Public Health and lives with her husband Blake in the Bay Area. Angela and Bob had two other daughters:  Yvette, who died as a newborn, and Jessica, who died tragically at the age of 20.

Bob grew up in Philadelphia where he learned at an early age to say “youse guys” and bleed Eagles Green. He attended the University of Pennsylvania for both his undergraduate and medical education and did his residency at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. He then moved to Los Angeles for his pediatric nephrology fellowship, and subsequently spent two years in the laboratory of Dr. Paul Terasaki. He joined the Pediatric Nephrology faculty at the University of Southern California Medical School. After seven years, he saw the light and went over to the other side of town, joining the faculty at UCLA and becoming a diehard Bruin. At UCLA, Dr. Ettenger was the head of the division of Pediatric Nephrology for 25 years and the medical director of the pediatric kidney transplant program for almost 35 years. He also was the medical director of the UCLA Histocompatibility Laboratory for 12 years. In his program, he trained over 100 Pediatric Nephrology fellows. He also served as the vice chairman for academic affairs in the department of pediatrics, and as the chief of the medical staff for the Ronald Reagan UCLA medical center.

While still a fellow, Dr. Ettenger was the first to identify the association between what we know now as anti HLA Class 2 antibodies and renal allograft rejection. At the same time, he introduced the concept of performing independently the pretransplant T and B cell cross match. Dr. Ettenger subsequently published a number of articles in Histocompatibility and then moved on to the area of immunosuppression in pediatric kidney transplantation. He helped study and develop in children such agents as MMF and Myfortic, Everolimus, and Valgancyclovir. Dr. Ettenger published extensively on the vexing problem of immunosuppressive medication nonadherence in adolescents, introducing the use of tacrolimus level percent coefficient of variation as an indicator of adherence or nonadherence. Finally, he has had an abiding interest in the challenge of recurrent focal glomerulosclerosis; his early development of the use of ultra-high dose oral cyclosporine to induce remission is still in use today. Dr. Ettenger has published over 200 peer reviewed articles and more than 100 invited articles and book chapters. He has received more than 50 research grants, and has lectured extensively both nationally and internationally.

Dr. Ettenger was very active in the AST, particularly in its early days. He was a founding member of the AST Board of Directors and served as its third president in 1984. He chaired the Program Committee for one of the early Annual Meetings, served on many other Society program committees, and gave many invited talks at ATC Meetings. He also served as the Chairman of the AST’s Pediatric Committee for a number of years. Finally, he served as an Associate Editor for the American Journal of Transplantation.

In addition to serving AST, Dr. Ettenger held multiple positions in UNOS/OPTN; he chaired the pediatric committee where he worked tirelessly to revise and improve the renal allocation system for children; he spent a number of years on the Membership and Professional Standards Committee; and he served on the UNOS Board of Directors. He also held positions in governmental organizations. He served on advisory committees for 2 FDA divisions; he was a reviewer on a number of NIH study sections; he was a longtime member of the Transplantation DSMB for NIAID; and he served on the Advisory Committee on Transplantation to the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Amidst all of this, Dr. Ettenger’s chief professional reward comes from caring for his patients. Through his career, Doctor Bob has taken care of more than 1000 Pediatric kidney transplant recipients. While many of these patients have moved on to be cared for by Adult transplant programs, many of them still stay in touch.  In celebration of Dr. Ettenger’s extensive contributions to the transplant community over his long and distinguished career, the AST was proud to present him with the 2021 AST Lifetime Achievement Award. 

2020 Lifetime Achievement Award

Gabriel Danovitch, MD, FRCP
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

The recipient of the 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award was Dr. Gabriel Danovitch.  Dr. Danovitch is the John J. Kuiper Chair of Nephrology and Renal Transplantation, a Distinguished Professor of Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the Medical Director of the UCLA Kidney Transplant Program. He is also the Medical Director for Organ Operations at OneLegacy Organ Procurement Organization, where he has provided years of leadership.

Dr. Danovitch was born in Cardiff, Wales, and spent his early career in England, obtaining his medical degree at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital at the University of London.   He completed his residency training in London and in Bersheeba, Israel, and then did his nephrology fellowship at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.  Dr. Danovitch served on the faculty at Albert Einstein and then directed the nephrology unit at Soroka Hospital in Israel before moving to UCLA in 1979.   

Dr. Danovitch has devoted his recent career to various aspects of clinical kidney transplantation.  He is the longtime Medical Director of UCLA’s renowned Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program, one of the largest and most successful in the US.  He has led the UCLA AST/ASN-accredited kidney transplant medicine fellowship since its inception, and mentored a generation of transplant physicians. 

He has published over 230 peer-reviewed articles and 57 book chapters.  Every transplant nephrologist is familiar with his seminal textbook, the Handbook of Kidney Transplantation, now in its sixth edition and translated into five languages.  It has become required reading for those entering the field.

Dr. Danovitch is an internationally recognized authority on transplant immunosuppression, clinical transplant care, transplant ethics and public policy.  He has served on the boards of the AST and UNOS, and as Secretary of The Transplantation Society.  Dr. Danovitch also served as a founding member and leader of the Declaration of Istanbul Custodian Group (DICG), and his persistent and courageous stance against organ trafficking has brought world-wide attention to a social injustice that targets the most impoverished and vulnerable of peoples.

In recent years, Dr. Danovitch has been honored with several prestigious awards.  In 2015, he received the highest honor of the David Geffen School of Medicine, the Mellinkoff Prize.  In 2018, he received an Honorary Fellowship to the British Royal College of Physicians.  This was a big moment for him as it completed a full circle back to his British origins and medical education 50 years ago.  AST awarded Dr. Danovitch the Mentorship Award in 2009 and the Senior Achievement Award in Clinical Transplantation in 2015.

In celebration of Dr. Danovitch’s long and distinguished career that has bettered the lives of his innumerable patients and their donors, his trainees, and indeed the entire transplant community, the AST was proud to present him with the 2020 AST Lifetime Achievement Award.  Dr. Danovitch joins a distinguished group of Lifetime Achievement Award recipients who have created a legacy of excellence and dedication to the field of transplantation.