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Cedars-Sinai Comprehensive Transplant Center Welcomes New Faculty

Physicians Bring Expertise in Transplant Immunology, Hepatology, Surgery and Research

 Peter Heeger, MD, Justin Steggerda, MD, Hirsh Trivedi, MD, and Lorenzo Zaffiri, MD, PhD, have all recently joined the Cedars-Sinai Comprehensive Transplant Center.Peter Heeger, MD

“We are so pleased to have recently added these four tremendously talented physicians to the Cedars-Sinai transplant team,” said Irene K. Kim, MD, director of the Comprehensive Transplant Center. “Their combined expertise will help us continue to bring the highest-quality patient care and leading-edge research to our community.”

Heeger, a prominent nephrology and immunology investigator, has been appointed director of Transplant Immunology. He brings with him a large, multicenter National Institutes of Health-funded clinical trial on the assessment of biomarker-guided calcineurin inhibitor substitution in kidney transplantation, along with several other major NIH-funded research studies. Heeger will collaborate with other Cedars-Sinai investigators to expand basic and translational transplantation research.

Heeger joins Cedars-Sinai from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, where he served as director of the Translational Transplant Research Center. There, he led and oversaw transplant research across organ systems at the institution, and he led the NIH-funded Clinical Trials in Organ Transplantation consortium Justin Steggerda, MDfor 17 years. Heeger earned his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

Steggerda joins Cedars-Sinai from Northwestern University, where he completed his transplant surgery fellowship this year. Prior to his fellowship, Steggerda completed his general surgery residency at Cedars-Sinai in 2020.

“I came here from the Midwest because I got the sense of family from the faculty and residents,” said Steggerda, who earned his medical degree from the University of Michigan. “Over the years as a resident, that sense of family only grew, and is what drew me back. For being a leader nationally in clinical care and growing research programs, Cedars-Sinai has the very special quality of also feeling small and collaborative, and I think that makes it a special place to start my career.”

Trivedi, a general and transplant hepatologist, joins Cedars-Sinai from Boston, where he completed his gastroenterology and transplant hepatology fellowship at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. During his fellowship, he also completed his master’s of science in epidemiology at Harvard Chan School of Public Health.

Trivedi’s research is focused on nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, a condition that can lead to scarring (fibrosis) of the liver and, eventually, liver failure. At Cedars-Sinai, he will continue research on nonalcoholic fatty liver disease as it relates to pre- and post-transplant outcomes. Particularly, he is interested in implementing a screening protocol for patients who are at higher risk for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and advanced liver fibrosis, such as those with Type 2 diabetes.

Zaffiri joins Cedars-Sinai as the associate director of the Lung Transplant Program. Prior to joining Cedars-Sinai, Zaffiri was an advanced practice provider at the Duke University Medical Center Lung Transplant Program. Zaffiri earned his medical degree and PhD from Sapienza Università di Roma (the University of Rome) in Rome, Italy. He then moved the the U.S. and worked at NIH as a visiting scientist. He completed a residency in internal medicine at Michigan State University, followed by a fellowship in pulmonary and critical care at Indiana University before joining the Duke University Medical Center team.

Lorenzo Zaffiri, MD, PhD“My goal is to continue the growth of the Lung Transplant Program at Cedars-Sinai, both clinically and in research,” Zaffiri said. “We are establishing ourselves as a large-volume lung transplant center in Southern California. We have amazing infrastructure and incredibly collaborative patients, so I’d like to help solidify Cedars-Sinai as a leading research center in the field of lung transplant. I aim to create a bridge with other institutions to collaborate in multicenter clinical trials and also develop our own specific research areas of expertise.”

The Comprehensive Transplant Center at Cedars-Sinai is regularly recognized for its high transplant volumes and excellent patient outcomes. In 2021, the Comprehensive Transplant Center and Smidt Heart Institute completed a record high number of solid organ transplants.

More recently, a report compiled by the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients found that patients who underwent lung transplantation at Cedars-Sinai experienced one-year survival rates above the national average.

Read more on the Cedars-Sinai Blog: Faces of Cedars-Sinai: Carla McMillan