Dr. Paulo Fontes is a transplant surgeon, a scientist, and an entrepreneur. He is Professor of Surgery at the Department of Surgery, School of Medicine (SOM), University of Pittsburgh (U Pitt). Dr. Fontes is a Deputy Director, McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine (MIRM). He is also the Director of the Machine Perfusion Program, a collaborative effort between the Starzl Transplantation Institute (STI), Department of Surgery, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and the MIRM. Dr. Fontes is a co-founder and the Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board, Virtech Bio Inc., Natick, MA, a startup company that has licensed his technologies and signed a Corporate Research Agreement with the University of Pittsburgh.
Dr. Fontes received his MD degree from Sao Paulo State University (UNESP) in 1985 under a full scholarship program. He achieved board certification in General Surgery by the Brazilian College of Surgeons in 1989 and received further accreditation by the International College of Surgeons in 1990. He attended three additional post-doctoral training programs after completing his residence in general surgery: (1) Operative Technique & Experimental Surgery (Sao Paulo Federal University -UNIFESP, Department of Surgery, Sao Paulo, SP, Brazil 1990-1991); (2) Cell Transplantation & Transplant Immunology (STI, UPMC, Pittsburgh, PA, USA 1991-1993); and (3) Multi Organ Transplantation (STI, UPMC, Pittsburgh PA, USA, 1996-1998). He was certified by the American Society of Transplant Surgeons in 1998 and proudly accepted as a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons (FACS) in 2001.
Dr. Fontes received formal business education in three additional programs: (1) Mini-MBA program sponsored by the UPMC-Physician Service Division and the Katz Business School, University of Pittsburgh, 2007; (2) Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 2009; and (3) Joseph Katz Graduate School of Business, Office of Technology Management, University of Pittsburgh, 2012, in the Business of Commercial Innovation.
Dr. Fontes was the Director of the Liver Transplant Program at the STI, UPMC, for almost a decade while performing and assisting in over 1,500 liver transplant procedures and managing over 10,000 patients. He was also a Co-Founder and the first Medical Director of the Organ Referral Center, UPMC. Dr. Fontes has contributed to an all-time UPMC record of 850 transplant procedures (all organs combined) in 2007. He received the UPMC’s Award for Commitment and Excellence in Service (ACES) in 2010, acknowledging his unlimited devotion to patient care and for the institution’s mission and values. He has received over 30 awards and honors, including a nomination into the “America’s Best Physicians” 2016 and 2017 Editions, National Consumer Advisory Board, “America’s Best in Medicine” 2017, Hauppauge NY, the TechConnect Innovation Award 2016, the University of Pittsburgh Innovation Award 2016 and the UPMC’s 2016 Excellence in Patient Experience.
Dr. Fontes has contributed to over 250 publications (115 peer-review papers, 10 book chapters, and 126 published abstracts). He has been directly involved in the training of more than 90 transplant surgeons since 1998 and he continues to teach the medical students at the SOM, U Pitt. Dr. Fontes has given over 115 national and international lectures. He is a member of the Editorial Review Board of 23 scientific journals and grant agencies. He has received financial support for his ongoing research from 7 different funding agencies, including the Department of Defense (DOD), the SBIR and the NIH.
Dr. Fontes is the inventor of 3 patents licensed by VirTech Bio Inc. He started the Machine Perfusion (MP) Program at the STI, UPMC, in 2011 by creating a new line of investigation at the MIRM through a $1MM charitable grant. He leads a comprehensive multidisciplinary group who developed new technologies in organ and tissue preservation by developing new MP devices in combination with new hemoglobin-based oxygen carrier (HBOC) solutions. Their liver technology is currently under FDA evaluation for the inception of their first US clinical trial for liver preservation. Dr. Fontes has expanded the application of this new ex-vivo technology towards vascularized composite allotransplants and has received additional awards from the DOD while developing a new MP medical device for limb preservation in collaboration with Arjan van der Plaats, PhD, Organ Assist, Groningen, Netherlands. They have additional projects focused on pre-clinical studies being conducted at the US Army Institute for Surgical Research, San Antonio Medical Center, San Antonio, TX. The group is also developing new therapies for limb rescue, amelioration and replantation and new approaches for spare part surgery in collaboration with Vijay Gorantla, MD. Dr. Fontes filed a third patent application in collaboration with John Kellum, MD, CCM, UPMC by creating a new discovery platform for biomarkers using their ex-vivo platform with MP and HBOC. In collaboration with William R. Light, PhD, CSO, Virtech Bio Inc., they have received a SBIR phase 1 award to develop a new human-derived HBOC for ex-vivo applications.
Dr. Fontes has additional collaborations with 2 MIRM senior investigators in innovative translational projects. He has joined Eric Lagasse, PhD, in the successful development of a pre-clinical large animal model for hepatocyte transplantation into the mesenteric lymph nodes. He also collaborates with Yoram Vodovotz, PhD, in the discovery of new inflammatory pathways in ex-vivo systems for organ and tissue preservation.
View a list of Dr. Fontes’ publications here.