(COLUMBUS, OHIO) – Jaimie Nathan, MD, has been named Chief of Pediatric Abdominal Transplant and Hepatopancreatobiliary Surgery at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Balamurugan N. Appakalai, PhD, has been appointed as principal investigator in the Abigail Wexner Research Institute and will lead the pancreatic islet cell isolation laboratories at Nationwide Children’s. Both appointments are effective September 1, 2021.
As a pediatric transplant surgeon, Dr. Nathan specializes in liver, kidney, and intestinal transplantation, as well as treatment of children with pancreatic and hepatobiliary diseases. He joins Nationwide Children’s following several accomplishments including development of an innovative pancreas surgical program at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Dr. Nathan’s training includes undergraduate and medical degrees from Yale University, a general surgery residency and surgical research in gastrointestinal endocrinology at Duke University School of Medicine, followed by fellowships in pediatric surgery and abdominal transplant surgery in Cincinnati. He is certified by the American Board of Surgery in general and pediatric surgery and by the American Society of Transplant Surgeons.
Dr. Nathan brings expertise in a number of areas, including an advanced procedure – total pancreatectomy with islet autotransplantation (TPIAT) – which helps children with debilitating pain and impaired quality of life from acute recurrent and chronic pancreatitis. Dr. Appakalai will lead the new islet cell isolation program, an essential component of the new TPIAT service.
New surgical capabilities also include living donor liver transplantation and the ability to perform liver transplants in babies 12 months or younger with substantial expertise in split liver transplantation. The kidney transplant program will also expand and allow for kidney transplantation in younger children.
“The arrival of Dr. Nathan and Dr. Appakalai marks a significant expansion in surgical and transplant capabilities and builds upon existing preeminent gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition, pancreatic research and hospital clinical programs to further our mission of achieving best surgical outcomes for children,” said Oluyinka Olutoye, MD, PhD, Surgeon-in-Chief at Nationwide Children’s. “Of particular note, providing TPIAT as a treatment option will help ensure children both locally and globally can access the entire spectrum of world-class care for pancreatitis.”
Dr. Nathan, who is also the recipient of the Nationwide Foundation Endowed Chair in Abdominal Transplantation, conducts research focusing on the surgical management of pancreatic diseases in children, including collaboration with INSPPIRE (International Study Group of Pediatric Pancreatitis: In Search for a Cure). He also serves as a co-investigator on the R01-funded multi-center prospective observational cohort study of TPIAT (POST Study), with the goal of addressing research gaps and developing future intervention studies regarding the surgical approach to TPIAT. He has partnered with numerous investigators to advance the field of pediatric pancreatology, including the development of the patient-derived microfluidic pancreas-on-a-chip to study cell-cell interactions and further the understanding of pancreatic function. He is a member of the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (NASPGHAN) and serves on its Pancreas Committee.
Dr. Appakalai is among the world’s most experienced in processing human pancreases for clinical islet autotransplantation and allotransplantation. He has processed more than 1,500 pancreases which have been utilized for clinical auto- and allotransplantation and for islet biology research initiatives. His research has been dedicated to methods to preserve and improve blood circulation to isolated islets after transplantation. He has published over 200 research articles including book chapters and serves on the editorial review boards of several journals.
“We are pleased that Dr. Nathan and Dr. Appakalai have joined Nationwide Children’s, bringing a unique level of expertise available at only a few pediatric centers in the country,” said Carlo Di Lorenzo, MD, Chief of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition. “New surgical capabilities will help put Nationwide Children’s at the forefront of advancing the fields of pediatric surgery for liver, pancreas and the biliary system.”
Dr. Nathan and his team will work closely with clinical, surgical and research programs throughout Nationwide Children’s, particularly with the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, which houses clinical centers for both liver and pancreas disorders.
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to build upon the established pediatric liver and kidney transplantation programs, and launch the new TPIAT capability at Nationwide Children’s,” said Dr. Nathan. “I look forward to the numerous opportunities for collaboration across the many disciplines, and, along with Dr. Appakalai, to the ability to provide the highest likelihood for children undergoing TPIAT to achieve insulin independence after total pancreatectomy.”