Starzl Web Site: The Career of a Transplant Pioneer

Issue Date: 
May 19, 2014

A Web site—rich in information, documents, photographs, videos, and archival materials—has been developed by the University of Pittsburgh Library System as the official Web site of Thomas E. Starzl, the pioneering transplant surgeon who has been with the University of Pittsburgh since 1981. The site,, serves as the definitive destination for those interested in Starzl’s life, his work, his legacy, and the lives he has touched.

University Library System staff have been working closely with Starzl during the past three years to share his achievements online. The site is, in part, bolstered by the inclusion of material taken from Starzl’s personal records, which he donated to the University Library System. These photographs, letters, speeches, and more help tell the story of not just one man’s career but the development of the entire field of organ transplantation.

“We’re very excited that the story of Dr. Thomas Starzl and his groundbreaking work is now accessible to a global audience,” said Rush Miller, Hillman University Librarian and director of the University Library System. “The site will grow more robust as we continue to add content from Dr. Starzl’s amazing collection.”

The site contains four main sections. The “About” section provides a brief overview of Starzl’s life and research, as well as a historically compelling look at his family lineage, compiled by the doctor himself over the past decade. Readers can learn about Starzl’s long search for information about his Austrian grandfather, his journalist father, and his schoolteacher-turned-nurse mother, whose deep respect for the doctors who treated her for breast cancer inspired her son to pursue a career in medicine.

The “Impact” section focuses on the impact of Starzl’s work on the medical profession. This portion of the site was compiled by examining bibliometric data, or the number of citations of Starzl’s nearly 2,300 articles written over the course of his career. This statistic numerically demonstrates the long reach of Starzl’s work on the generations of transplant surgeons and immunologists who followed. In light of the impact of his written works, the University Library System has also digitized and made publicly available the entirety of Starzl’s publication list via its D-Scholarship service.

The “Themes” section examines seven main areas of Starzl’s work, including his early ventures into neuroscience, transplantation immunology, and surgical innovations regarding the transplanted organs themselves. Starzl authored this portion of the site, giving the reader a glimpse into what he considers to be the highlights of his career.

Finally, the “People” section focuses on individuals whom Starzl has personally identified as having a significant impact on his career. The people covered in this section range from patients to colleagues. Each profile is accompanied by documents chosen from his records that illustrate his connection to the individual, including correspondence, photographs, and other documents.

The Official Dr. Thomas E. Starzl Web site is continually updated with links to news articles on this medical pioneer’s ongoing work. For more information on the Web site, please contact Jeff Wisniewski at 412-624-4050 or