Celebrated Surgeon Rainer Gruessner Continues to Deliver Innovative Approach to Medicine

Rainer Gruessner is an innovative surgeon with many "firsts" under his belt.

Online PR News – 01-July-2014 – Tucson, AZ – Rainer Gruessner was appointed Chairman of the Department of Surgery at the University of Arizona's College of Medicine in 2007. He has led a highly decorated career.

Rainer Gruessner MD received the University of Arizona's Innovation Award in 2009 for his many surgical "firsts". He was involved in the world’s first split pancreas transplant in 1988 (curing 2 diabetic patients with 1 donor organ), and he has described and performed the first standardized technique for living donor intestinal (or bowel) transplants in 1997. Rainer Gruessner performed the first preemptive liver transplant from a living donor in an infant with oxalosis. He also performed for the first time the combined laparoscopic removal of half of the pancreas and a kidney from a living donor. In 2012, Rainer Gruessner MD and his team performed the first robotic removal of the pancreas and simultaneous islet autotransplant for the treatment of chronic pancreatitis. At the University of Arizona, Rainer Gruessner performed the Southwest’s first living donor intestinal transplant, the first bowel transplant from a deceased donor, the first multivisceral transplant, and the first liver transplant in a child from a living donor.

I think that we can overcome many of the hurdles that are frequently considered as insurmountable by taking both a methodological approach and thinking outside the box

He says one reason he has done so many firsts is that he doesn’t take no for an answer. That is another way of saying that he is the sort of man who focuses on solutions. "I think that we can overcome many of the hurdles that are frequently considered as insurmountable by taking both a methodological approach and thinking outside the box," Dr. Gruessner says. "And the beauty of working at a University or an academic institution, is that you can take a problem from the bedside to the bench. You can do translational research with an entire armada of experts that are like-minded, and that want to find a solution. And then you take it back to the bedside — not always with a definitive solution, but with some form of improvement."

Rainer Gruessner MD received his medical training in Europe, where he graduated from the School of Medicine at Johannes-Gutenberg-Universitat in Mainz, Germany, in 1983. He was awarded a rare “summa cum laude” for his Doctoral Thesis. At Philipps-Universität in Marburg, Germany, he completed his Professorial Thesis (“Habilitation”, the German PhD-equivalent) and was appointed the equivalent of a senior lecturer (“Privatdozent”) in 1991. He completed a fellowship in transplantation at the University of Minnesota in 1989. Rainer Gruessner has gone on to be the Chairman of the Department of General and Transplant Surgery at University Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland, and the Vice Chairman of the Department of Surgery at the University of Minnesota.

Aside from organ transplantation, Rainer Gruessner is particularly interested in surgical treatment options for chronic pancreatitis as well as for pancreas and liver cancer. He served as the Surgical Director of the University of Arizona’s HepatoPancreaticoBiliary Program. Diseases of the liver, pancreas, and biliary system, Rainer Gruessner MD says, "represent some of the most complex and challenging problems faced by health care professionals today and almost always require a multidisciplinary approach." He is very proud of the fact that he and his team within a short period of time built a very successful program for the treatment of chronic pancreatitis where patients can undergo, with and without the use of a robot, complete removal of the diseased pancreas and a simultaneous islet autotransplant to avoid the development of diabetes mellitus.

In addition to his Innovation Award, Rainer Gruessner MD has been the recipient of many other awards during the course of his career. In Arizona, he received the Diabetes Cure Award from the Arizona Chapter of the American Diabetes Association in 2012 and the Physician of the Year Award from the Pima County Medical Association in 2011. When he isn’t working, Rainer Gruessner MD enjoys playing tennis, swimming, running, and skiing. He is an avid collector of books and maps, and has a strong interest in history.

Rainer Gruessner MD is an established researcher, but is also a strong patient advocate. He is committed to bringing the best surgical services that he can to the community that he serves. Rainer Gruessner is also a humble and friendly man, and a devoted family man. He is especially proud of his two children, both of whom are currently medical students.

About: Rainer Gruessner was appointed head of the University of Arizona’s Department of Surgery in 2007, and is an innovative surgeon.