Newswise — Bethesda, MD – Capt. (Dr.) Eric Elster, a Navy transplant surgeon and chair of the Norman M. Rich Department of Surgery at the F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences here, is among 18 experts named as members of a new committee to develop standards and policies for face and hand transplantation.

The Vascularized Composite Allograft Transplantation Committee was established by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the nation’s organ transplant system. Vascularized composite allograft (VCA) involves transplanting multiple structures such as bone, muscle, blood vessels, ligaments, nerves and skin. While face and hand transplants are currently the most widely known VCA procedures, other types of VCA transplantation may be developed in the future.

The VCA Transplantation Committee will determine which organ combinations will be covered in policy, develop national standards and processes for VCA donor consent and recovery, develop a system to prioritize VCA transplant candidates for available organs, develop a national set of clinical data to be collected on VCA transplants, and establish institutional standards for hospitals that perform VCA transplants.

In addition to his duties as professor and surgery department chair, Dr. Elster is also director of the Surgical Critical Care Institute, a joint military and civilian program developing clinical decision support tools for critically ill patients, and a staff transplant surgeon at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He completed a solid organ transplantation fellowship at the National Institutes of Health and was then assigned to the Naval Medical Research Center in Silver Spring, Md., where he directed a translational research program focused on the development of improved diagnostics and therapies for serious traumatic injuries, transplantation and advanced operative imaging. Elster was last deployed as a surgeon and Director of Surgical Services at the NATO Role 3 Military Medical Unit in Kandahar, Afghanistan. He is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and a member of the Society of University Surgeons, American Society of Transplant Surgeons, and the Southern Surgical Association.

In addition to Elster, the other members of the VCA Transplantation Committee include:

Dr. Sue V. McDiarmid, University of California at Los Angeles Medical Center (chair)Dr. L. S. Levin, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (vice chair)Mr. Richard S. Luskin, New England Organ Bank (vice chair)Mr. Chad Waller, UNOS (liaison)Mr. Charles E. Alexander, The Living Legacy Foundation of MarylandDr. Gerald Brandacher, Johns Hopkins HospitalDr. Warren C. Breidenbach, University Medical Center, University of ArizonaDr. Linda C. Cendales, Emory University HospitalMs. Lindsay Ess, general publicDr. John J. Fung, The Cleveland Clinic FoundationDr. Christina L. Kaufman, general publicDr. David K. Klassen, University of Maryland Medical SystemDr. W.P. Andrew Lee, Johns Hopkins HospitalDr. Marlon F. Levy, Baylor All Saints Medical CenterMr. Christopher J. McLaughlin, Division of Transplantation, HHSDr. Kenneth A. Newell, Emory University HospitalDr. Bohdan Pomahac, Brigham and Women's HospitalMs. Kathy Schwab, Saint Marys Hospital (Mayo Clinic)Dr. Robert M. Veatch, general publicMr. Robert W. Walsh, Division of Transplantation, HHS

About the F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine, USU:

The F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences was established by Congress in 1972 to provide a cadre of career military physicians and leaders for the uniformed services. Medical students are active duty uniformed officers in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Public Health Service who receive specialized education in tropical and infectious diseases, TBI and PTSD, disaster response and humanitarian assistance, global health, and acute trauma care in addition to their regular medical school curriculum. A large percentage of the university’s more than 5,000 physician alumni are supporting operations around the world, offering their leadership and expertise. The F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine also has graduate programs in biomedical sciences and public health, most open to civilian and military applicants, and a robust research program that covers a wide range of areas important to both the military and public health. For more information, visit Learning to Care for Those in Harm's Way