When Andrew Adams, MD, PhD, first considered surgery as a profession during college, he appreciated the career’s potential to make a direct impact on patients’ lives.

“I worked in a surgery research laboratory in college, and I really enjoyed the ability to identify a problem, pose a solution and test if it was correct, if it worked, then you could move forward and potentially affect people’s daily lives. The combination of science and surgery was very appealing,” said Dr. Adams who recently joined University of Minnesota Physicians as a transplant surgeon and as the executive medical director for the transplantation service line for M Health Fairview.

For 10 years, Dr. Adams has cared for hundreds of both adult and pediatric liver transplant patients who have end-stage liver disease. He began his career at Emory University Medical School, where he earned his medical degree, before completing his residency at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. He returned to Emory University following residency to complete a transplant fellowship and later joined their faculty. There, he established an innovative translational research lab focused on developing cutting-edge technologies that improve patient care and outcomes for transplant patients. He will continue this research in his new lab at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

There are very few institutions that have the unique blend of outstanding basic science in immunology coupled with a rich history and legacy in transplant surgery. It is a wonderful opportunity to come to the University of Minnesota and establish collaborations with world renowned scientists and clinicians to hopefully accelerate our understanding of the immune response to transplanted tissues and organs and develop new and more effective treatments.

Dr. Adams

When he’s not in the lab studying how to make organ transplants more available or developing ideas for new drugs that make transplanted organs last longer, Dr. Adams will care for some of the Twin Cities’ sickest patients. 

“People are very grateful when they receive a transplant, without which they may be very sick and at real risk of dying,” Dr. Adams said. “As a transplant surgeon, you get to be a part of that process where they receive a new organ, often a gift from a donor. Once the new organ begins working, you see them recover quickly.”

Unlike some other specialties, Dr. Adams says in transplantation, he has the unique opportunity to build long-term relationships with his patients and work together on large teams — two driving factors in his pursuit of transplantation.

“It’s a big team effort,” he said. “It requires collaboration with anesthesiology, medicine- hepatology or nephrology, radiology, pathology, and many others, where we are all focused on helping a patient get better. It’s one of the best experiences.”