Keri Lunsford MD, PhD, FACS

Keri Lunsford
Keri Lunsford MD, PhD, FACS
Rutgers University Hospital
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am an Assistant Professor of Surgery in the Division of Transplant and Hepatobiliary Surgery at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and Director of the Liver Transplant and Hepatobiliary Biorepository. I am also a member of the Rutgers Center for Immunity and Inflammation as a clinician-scientist specializing translational liver transplant immunology. My clinical interests include liver transplantation, hepatocellular carcinoma and cholangiocarcinoma, recipient frailty, simultaneous liver kidney transplantation, and liver transplant futility. I received my undergraduate degree in Biochemistry from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio where I graduated with honors. I received MD and PhD degrees from The Ohio State University, where I was a part of the Medical Scientist Training Program. I then completed general surgery residency and a surgical research fellowship at Duke University followed by a clinical fellowship in multi-organ abdominal transplantation and hepatobiliary surgery at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). My research is funded by the American Society of Transplant Surgeons, the National Institutes of Health NIDDK, and the New Jersey Health Foundation.
Can you share one or two of your specific research interests?
My specific research interests revolve around translational studies of liver transplant recipient frailty on the immune system as well as how cirrhosis-induced immune dysfunction impacts cancer reoccurrence and development of infections following liver transplant. In addition, I am involved in several clinical and translational research projects involving liver transplant oncology, including cholangiocarcinoma and hepatocellular carcinoma.
Why did you decide to specialize in hepatobiliary cancers?
The liver is the most complex organ in the body, and its dysfunction impacts every other organ system. My interest in the liver led me to pursue liver transplant surgery as a specialty. I appreciate the multidisciplinary approach needed to treat hepatobiliary cancers, and incorporation of transplant in the treatment algorithm can substantially improve the survivability of the deadly cancers in select patients.
Can you describe one of the unforgettable moments in your patients care or research that has impacted your career?
Finding an "orphan" liver for a patient with cholangiocarcinoma that would not otherwise have received a liver transplant. This resulted in a cure for their otherwise unresectable disease and significantly improved their quality of life.
Can you tell us one thing collaboration with colleagues could accomplish that you could not accomplish on your own?
I am collaborating with a colleague on the development of CAR-NK cell therapies to treat hepatobiliary malignancies.
If you had access to one resource that would move your research forward, what would that resource be?
More time
How did you learn about the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation?
I learned about the CCF through my work in liver transplant for intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma
Can you tell us why you became a member of the ICRN?
I feel that the ICRN is especially well equipped to approach emerging research and clinical advances in the treatment of cholangiocarcinoma in a multidisciplinary fashion.