the torch Summer 2015, Issue 2 - Page 9

Largest transplant society in the United States honors Baylor researcher Dr. Jacqueline O’Leary Th e American Society of Tr a nspl a n tat ion (AST) has awarded Jacqueline O’Leary, M.D. M.P.H., with its Clinical Science Investigator Award. Dr. O’Leary is medical director of research for the Baylor Annette C. and Harold C. Simmons Transplant Institute and medical director of the Liver and Transplant Unit at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas. Selected by the AST board of directors, the recipient of this annual award must have made a substantial contribution to the field of transplantation medicine, and show signs of a bright future ahead in transplantation. “This is very well deserved honor and I am very proud of Dr. O’Leary for her contributions to our industry and this prestigious accomplishment,” said Göran Klintmalm, M.D., Ph.D., chief and chairman of the Baylor Simmons Transplant Institute. Dr. O’Leary has made significant contributions to transplantation. She has more than 40 original publications and has been the principal investigator in many key clinical trials in liver disease, viral hepatitis and liver transplantation. “The reason I focus on these areas is that they have the highest risk for death,” said Dr. O’Leary. She has seen progress in all three of her areas of focus. “Over the last 10 years, we’ve seen a revolution in Hepatitis C treatment from poorly tolerated, very toxic medicines that rarely resulted in cure – to now all-oral therapy, even for transplant patients, that can achieve greater than 90 percent cure in as little as three months.” Dedicated to improving quantity and quality of life for patients both before and after transplants, Dr. O’Leary said, “I like to discover new things that help people – truly translating research findings into improved clinical care. We’ve really improved our ability to find problems early and intervene so we can prevent complications down the road. We’re trying to do a better job of diagnosing problems with blood tests or biomarkers out of blood instead of having to do invasive tests like liver biopsies.” She was attracted to a career in medicine by an uncle who was a physician. His cancer diagnosis and death initially focused her attention on cancer research. The opportunity to impact patients through transplantation drew Dr. O’Leary to her current work in hepatology, because “when patients get very sick with liver disease, they may have a transplant, and it’s like a rebirth – which is really wonderful to experience.” Many of Dr. O’Leary’s research efforts have been funded thanks to generous donors to the Foundation. For more information on how you can support transplant initiatives, contact Melissa Dalton at 214.820.2705 or Melissa.Dalton@BaylorHealth.edu. 9