Tomoaki Kato Assumes Leadership Role for Transplant Initiative

Dear Colleagues,

Tomoaki Kato, MD

Tomoaki Kato, MD

We are pleased to announce that Tomoaki Kato, MD, the Edwin C. and Anne K. Weiskopf Professor of Surgical Oncology at VP&S, has been appointed executive director of the Columbia Transplant Initiative and clinical director of transplant services at NYP/CUIMC. Dr. Kato also retains his role as division chief of the newly renamed Division of Abdominal Organ Transplant and Hepatobiliary Surgery. As executive director of the Transplant Initiative, Dr. Kato will report directly to me and work alongside our faculty to expand this storied, interdisciplinary program. He will report to Craig Smith, MD, chair of the Department of Surgery, in his hospital responsibilities and role as division chief.

Columbia and NewYork-Presbyterian are acknowledged regional, national, and international leaders in the field of transplant. Our surgeons and their medical and pediatric counterparts are at the forefront of clinical innovations, and the hospital performs more organ transplants than any other hospital in the United States. Investigators in basic and translational science as well as clinical trials have built a large portfolio of NIH funding in the field. The tight collaboration and dedication of the surgeons, transplant physicians, and researchers is a showcase of the combined mission of Columbia University and NewYork-Presbyterian to make a difference in the lives of patients.

The Transplant Initiative was created in 2007 with four departments forming the core of the interdisciplinary program: medicine, pathology & cell biology, pediatrics, and surgery. The initiative has been led by Jean Emond, MD, the Thomas S. Zimmer Professor of Reconstructive Surgery and a transplant pioneer who participated in the first live donor liver transplant in the United States. Dr. Emond was instrumental in founding and developing the Columbia Center for Liver Disease and Transplantation in 1998, making it one of the first programs of its kind built as a multidisciplinary program. His stewardship of the Transplant Initiative allowed a transplant program that was already a recognized leader to expand into a full-spectrum center of excellence for transplantation. We are deeply grateful for Dr. Emond’s contributions, and we are happy to share that he will remain with the Department of Surgery as he passes the executive directorship of the Transplant Initiative to Dr. Kato

Dr. Kato is a pioneer in multiple-organ transplantation and pediatric and adult liver transplantation. He is known for unique and innovative surgeries for adults and children, including a highly publicized six-organ ex vivo surgery that was the first removal and auto-transplantation of six organs to excise a hard-to-reach abdominal tumor. He joined VP&S in 2008 from the University of Miami, and he has continued a prolific research program in transplant immunology, immune tolerance, monitoring of intestinal rejection, and patient outcomes related to liver and intestinal transplants. He has published more than 200 peer-reviewed papers and was tenured at Columbia University in 2018. In addition to his MD, Dr. Kato has earned two advanced degrees since arriving at Columbia: an MPA at the School of International and Public Affairs in 2014 and an MBA at the Columbia Business School in 2017.

Please join us in thanking Jean for his leadership and in congratulating Tom on these well-earned leadership roles.


Katrina Armstrong, MD
Dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons
Executive Vice President for Health and Biomedical Sciences, Columbia University

Craig R. Smith, MD
Chair, Department of Surgery
Johnson and Johnson Distinguished Professor in the Department of Surgery and Valentine Mott Professor of Surgery