Dr. Paulo Fontes is a transplant surgeon, a scientist, and an entrepreneur. He is an Associate Professor of Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). Dr. Fontes is a Deputy Director, McGowan Institute of Regenerative Medicine. He is also the Director of the Machine Perfusion Program, a collaborative effort between the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute (STI), Department of Surgery, and the McGowan Institute. Dr. Fontes became the Chairman of the Scientific Board Advisory, Virtech Bio LLC, Beverly, MA, in 2014, a startup company that has licensed his technology 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 underwent three additional post-doctoral trainings after his surgical residence: (1) Operative Technique & Experimental Surgery (Sao Paulo Federal University -UNIFESP, Department of Surgery, Sao Paulo, SP, Brazil 1990-1991); (2) Cell Transplantation & Transplant Immunology (Starzl Transplant Institute – STI, Department of Surgery - DS, UPMC, Pittsburgh, PA, USA 1991-1993); and (3) Multi Organ Transplantation (STI, DS, UPMC, Pittsburgh PA, USA, 1996-1998).
Dr. Fontes received formal business and financial training 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 record of 850 transplant procedures (all organs combined) in 2007 at the UPMC.
Dr. Fontes has contributed to over 114 peer-review publications, 10 book chapters, and 124 published abstracts. He has been directly involved in the training of more than 90 transplant surgeons since 1998. Dr. Fontes has given over 109 national and international lectures through the last decades. He has received more than 24 awards and honors. Dr. Fontes is a member of the Editorial Review Board of 22 scientific journals and grant agencies. He has received financial support for his ongoing research from 7 funding agencies, including the Department of Defense (DOD) and the NIH. Dr. Fontes has 3 patent applications. Dr. Fontes has received over 25 awards and honors, including a nomination into the America’s Best Physicians” 2016 Edition, National Consumer Advisory Board, several nominations to Who is Who in America and Who is Who in the World, and a special honorary mention from the Brazilian National Congress for his academic career in the US. He has also received UPMC’s Award for Commitment and Excellence in Service (ACES), acknowledging his unlimited devotion to patient care and for the institution’s mission and values.
Dr. Fontes started the Machine Perfusion Program at the STI, UPMC, in 2011 and developed his lab at the McGowan Institute initially through a $1MM charitable grant. He led a multidisciplinary group which developed a new technology in organ preservation based on machine perfusion with a new oxygen carrier solution. This initiative has generated 3 patents and a new spin-off company (Virtech Bio LLC, Beverly, MA). This technology is currently under FDA evaluation for the inception of the first US clinical trial for liver preservation. Dr. Fontes has expanded the application of this new preservation technology towards vascularized composite allotransplants and has received 3 grants from the DOD. Two of his awards are focused on additional pre-clinical studies to be conducted at the US Army Institute for Surgical Research, San Antonio Medical Center, San Antonio, TX, and the McGowan Institute. Dr. Fontes developed a third IP where a new discovery platform for biomarkers was created after his machine perfusion/oxygen carrier solution system.
Dr. Fontes is also associated with three McGowan Institute senior investigators in additional translational projects. He has joined Eric Lagasse, PhD, in the successful development of a pre-clinical large animal model for hepatocyte transplantation into the peri-hepatic and mesenteric lymph nodes. He also joined Stephen Badylak, DVM, PhD, MD, in the development of bioengineered livers using his machine perfusion system as a bioreactor. He currently 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.
View a video on Dr. Fontes' research here.2016 Pitt Innovator Award