Faculty Profile

Chris Larsen, MD, DPhil

Christian P. Larsen, MD, DPhil

Professor of Surgery, Division of Transplantation, Department of Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine

Affiliate Scientist, Emory National Primate Research Center






American Board of Surgery

Year Joined Emory as a Faculty Member



Dr. Larsen has made seminal contributions to the investigation of the immunologic mechanisms of transplant rejection and immunologic tolerance and is an internationally recognized leader in kidney and pancreas transplantation. He has been funded continuously by the NIH since 1996. The recipient of a prestigious NIH MERIT award, he has directed program project grants, center awards, and multi-institutional consortia.

With his long-time collaborator Dr. Thomas Pearson, Dr. Larsen initiated a transplant immunology research program that played a pivotal role in developing a new class of immunosuppressive drugs known as costimulation blockers. One such drug is belatacept, which Dr. Larsen, Dr. Pearson, and researchers at Bristol Myers Squibb began developing in the 1990s as a less toxic alternative to standard immunosuppressants. In 2011, the FDA approved belatacept in the form of the drug Nulojix for kidney transplant recipients. In 2015, the BENEFIT study, which was initiated in 2006 and led by Dr. Larsen and UCSF transplant specialist Dr. Flavio Vincenti, conclusively showed that belatacept had a better record of patient and organ survival than a calcineurin inhibitor.

In 2012, Dr. Larsen received an NIH grant for nearly $20 million to lead teams of multiple investigators attacking the problems of immunosuppression from different but complementary angles. The connective focus is continued development of more effective co-stimulation blockers for near-term treatment of transplant patients and better strategies for the "holy grail" of transplantation—long-term, true immune tolerance of transplanted organs.

Dr. Larsen began serving as executive director of the Emory Transplant Center in 2008 and chair of the Department of Surgery at Emory in 2009. He left both positions in January 2013 to serve as dean of the Emory University School of Medicine. In November 2016, Dr. Larsen returned to full-time pursuit of his clinical practice and research endeavors at the Department of Surgery and Emory Transplant Center.

In 2017, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases awarded Emory transplant researchers $12.6 million over five years to investigate improved post-transplant drug regimens for organ transplant recipients. Dr. Larsen leads the grant's project team, which includes Mandy Ford, PhD, at Emory, and Leslie Kean, MD, PhD, at Seattle Children's Hospital and the University of Washington. The project is continuing Dr. Larsen's work on costimulation blockers.


View Dr. Larsen's publications in PubMed.


  • Emory University Hospital


  • MD, Emory University School of Medicine, Class of 1984

  • General Surgery Residency, Emory, 1985-1988, 1990-1991

  • Livingston Surgical Research Fellow, Nuffield Department of Surgery, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK, 1988-1990

  • PhD, Transplantation Immunology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK, 1990

  • Fellow in Transplantation Surgery, Emory, 1991-1993

Honors and Awards

  • Mentoring Award, American Society of Transplantation, 2018

  • Elected to Institute of Medicine, 2014

  • Emory Makers of History Award, Most Distinguished Faculty in first 175 years of Emory, 2011

  • Top Doctors, Atlanta Magazine, 2009-2012

  • America's Top Doctors, Castle Connolly, 2010-2012

  • Emory School of Medicine Dean's Distinguished Faculty Lecture and Award, 2009

  • Thomas E. Starzl Prize in Surgery and Immunology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute, 2007

  • TTS-Roche Award for Excellence in Translational Research, Transplantation Society, 2006

  • Roche Basic Science Established Investigator Award, American Society of Transplantation, 2004

  • Listed Among Emory's Distinguished Faculty for 2002-2003

  • Finalist, Healthcare Hero Award, Atlanta Business Chronicle, 2003

  • Dean's Clinical Investigator Award, Emory University School of Medicine, 2002-2003

  • Emory University Great Teacher's Lecture, 2002

  • Dean's Clinical Investigator Award, Emory University School of Medicine, 1999-2000

  • NIH Basic Science Award, American Society of Transplant Physicians, 1997

  • Who's Who in Science and Engineering, 1992-1994

  • Overseas Research Studentship, University of Oxford, 1988-1990

  • Henry Goodger Scholarship, University of Oxford, 1988-1990

  • British-American Research Fellowship of the American Heart Association, 1989-1990

  • Acting Clinical Lecturer in Surgery, University of Oxford, 1988-1989

  • Magna Cum Laude Graduate, Emory University School of Medicine, 1984

  • Alpha Omega Alpha, 1983

  • Phi Beta Kappa, 1979

Current Organizational Memberships

  • American College of Surgeons, Fellow

  • American Surgical Association
  • American Society of Transplantation

  • American Society of Transplant Surgeons

  • American Society for Clinical Investigation

  • Georgia Surgical Society

  • Institute of Medicine

  • Society of Clinical Surgery

  • The Society of University Surgeons

  • Southern Surgical Association

  • The Transplantation Society

Clinical Specialties

  • Kidney and pancreatic transplantation 

Research Interests

  • Investigations of the mechanisms involved in initiation and maintenance of T cell responses.

  • Development of new immunosuppressive strategies to prevent transplant rejection and preserve protective immunity.

  • Tightly linked projects and investigations that span basic, translational, and clinical research using murine, non-human primate, and human models.