Allan D. Kirk, MD, PhD - Basic Science Research Faculty

Allan D. Kirk, MD, PhD

Professor and Scientific Director, Emory Transplant Center
Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar
McKelvey Scholar

When patients receive an organ transplant they must take immunosuppressive medications for life to prevent rejection. These drugs are incompletely effective and cause significant morbidity. Dr. Kirk’s research is directed toward understanding transplant rejection and translating this understanding into less morbid therapies for transplant recipients. His group uses in vitro and animal models to develop transplant strategies and then investigates them in clinical trials.

Dr. Kirk has successfully targeted several costimulatory molecules with monoclonal antibodies in primates and is evaluating multiple anti-CD154 approaches pre-clinically. He is interested in the expression of CD154 on platelets and its implications for immune activation and thrombosis. While at the NIH, he initiated several clinical trials using monoclonal or polyclonal antibodies to achieve transient lymphocyte depletion substantially reducing the need for immunosuppression in humans. His group has shown that monocytes play a key role in post-depletional immune responses and are evaluating the signals influencing human monocytes during lymphopenia. He also has determined that memory T-cells are disproportionately spared during depletion in humans and is studying how this affects the post-transplant need for immunosuppression. In addition to developing new therapeutics for use in transplantation, Dr. Kirk has developed several novel means to more precisely monitor transplant recipients. Improved therapeutics and more precise monitoring techniques will facilitate tailor-made immune therapies and improve patient outcomes.

Dr. Kirk received his M.D. from Duke University School of Medicine in 1987 and his PhD in immunology from Duke in 1992. He completed a general surgery residency at Duke in 1995 and a multi-organ transplantation fellowship at the University of Wisconsin in 1995. He is a Diplomat of the American Board of Surgery and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons.  He has authored 83 original scientific manuscripts and 50 invited manuscripts on immunological pathways, published in leading scientific peer-reviewed journals. He has developed several novel methods related to immunosuppression resulting in seven patent applications.  He has participated in more than 100 guest professorships, including those at Cambridge, Oxford, Columbia, Duke, Emory, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Penn, and Yale, and numerous international lectureships.

Recent Publications (2007 – 2008)

  • Weaver TA, Kirk AD. Alemtuzumab. Transplantation 2007, 84:1545-7, 2007.Girlanda R, Kirk AD. Frontiers in nephrology: immune tolerance to allografts in humans. J Am Soc Nephrol. Review. 18(8):2242-51,2007.  
  • Pearl JP, Xu H, Leopardi F, Preston E, Kirk AD. CD154 blockade, sirolimus and donor specific transfusion prevents allograft rejection in a memory T cell enriched environment. Transplantation. 83:1219-25, 2007.  
  • Kirk AD, Cherikh WS, Ring R, Burke G, Kaufman D, Knechtle SJ, Potdar S, Shapiro R, Dharnidharka VR, Kauffman HM. Dissociation of Depletional Induction and Post Transplant Lymphoproliferative Disease in Kidney Recipients Treated With Alemtuzumab. Am J Transplant. 7:2619-25, 2007.  
  • Hanna BV, Gorbach AM, Gage FA, Pinto PA, Silva JS, Gilfillan LG, Kirk AD, Elster EA. Intraoperative assessment of critical biliary structures with visible range/infrared image fusion. J Am Coll Surg 206(3); 1227-31,2008. (Epub 2007)  
  • Weaver TA, Charafeddine AH, Kirk AD. Costimulation blockade: towards clinical application. Front Bisci. Review. 3:2120-39, 2008.  
  • Girlanda R, Kleiner DE, Duan Z, Ford EAS, Wright EC, Mannon RB, Kirk AD. Monocyte infiltration and kidney allograft dysfunction during acute rejection. Am J Transplant. 8:600-607, 2008.  
  • Crane NJ, Pinto PA, Hale DA, Gage FA, Tadaki D, Kirk AD, Levin IW, Elster EA. Non-invasive Monitoring of Tissue Oxygenation During Laparoscopic Donor Nephrectomy. BMC Surgery. 8:8, 2008.  
  • Ford ML, Wagener ME, Hanna SS, Pearson TC, Kirk AD, Larsen CP. A Critical Precursor Frequency of Donor-Reactive CD4+ T Cell Help Is Required for CD8+ T Cell-Mediated CD28/CD154-Independent Rejection. J Immunol. 180:7203-11, 2008.  
  • Chamberlain CE, Penzak S, Alfaro RM, Wesley R, Daniels CE, Hale DA, Kirk AD, Mannon RB. Pharmacokinetics of low and maintenance dose valganciclovir in kidney transplant recipients. Am J Transplant. 8:1297-1302, 2008.  
  • Gorbach AM, Wang H, Dhanani NN, Gage FA, Pinto PA, Smith PD, Kirk AD, Elster EA. Assessment of Critical Renal Ischemia with Real-Time Infrared Imaging. J Surg Res. 2008 (epub ahead of print, March 13, 2008)  
  • Cendales LC, Kanitakis J, Schneeberger S, Burns C, Ruiz P, Landin L, Remmelink M, Hewitt CW, Landgren T, Lyons B, Drachenberg CB, Solez K, Kirk AD, Kleiner DE, Racusen L. The Banff 2007 Working Classification of Skin-Containing Composite Tissue Allograft Pathology. Am J Transplant. 2008 (epub ahead of print, April 29, 2008).  
  • Elster EA, Leeser DB, Morrissette C, Pepek JM, Quiko A, Hale DA, ChamberlainC, Salaita C, Kirk AD, Mannon RB. Obesity Following Kidney Transplantation and Steroid Avoidance Immunosuppression. Clin Trans. 2008 (in press).  
  • Dhanireddy KK, Bruno DA,Weaver TA, Xu H, Zhang X, Leopardi FV, Hale DA, Kirk AD. Hale Portal Venous Donor Specific Transfusion in Conjunction with Sirolimus Prolongs Renal Allograft Survival in Non-Human Primates. 2008 (submitted).