News Release

Boston Surgeon Joseph P. Vacanti, M.D., F.A.C.S., receives 2015 ACS Jacobson Innovation Award

International award recognizes surgeon's accomplishments in pioneering techniques in tissue engineering

Grant and Award Announcement

American College of Surgeons

CHICAGO : Joseph P. Vacanti, MD, FACS, received the 2015 Jacobson Innovation Award of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) at a dinner held in his honor this evening in Chicago, Ill. Dr. Vacanti, the John Homans Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School, is also the director of the Laboratory for Tissue Engineering and Organ Fabrication, the codirector of the Center for Regenerative Medicine, and the chief of pediatric transplantation, at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Mass. The prestigious Jacobson Innovation Award honors living surgeons who have been innovators of a new development or technique in any field of surgery and is made possible through a gift from Julius H. Jacobson II, MD, FACS, and his wife Joan. Dr. Jacobson is a general vascular surgeon known for his pioneering work in the development of microsurgery.

Dr. Vacanti, a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons (FACS), was honored with this international surgical award in recognition of the work he has done in the field of tissue engineering, which began in the early 1980s. His work in this field stems from a long-held interest in solving the problem of organ shortages. Working with Professor Robert Langer from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Dr. Vacanti developed an approach which used tissue-specific cells placed in scaffolds made of biodegradable polymers. The cells, which can come from living tissue or stem cells, are then bathed in growth factors and then multiply to fill the scaffold. The cells then grow into three-dimensional tissue that, once implanted into the body, recreates its proper tissue function. Blood vessels grow into the new tissue, the scaffold degrades, and the lab-grown tissue becomes indistinguishable from its surroundings.

Dr. Vacanti has also been an innovator in pediatric surgery. In 1984, while at Children's Hospital Boston, Dr. Vacanti instituted New England's first successful pediatric Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) program. In addition, he started the nation's first liver transplantation program specifically for the pediatric population.

Dr. Vacanti was a founding co-president of the Tissue Engineering Society, now named the Tissue Engineering Regenerative Medicine International Society (TERMIS). It currently has 5,000 active members from 80 countries worldwide. He was also the founding senior editor of the journal Tissue Engineering, which serves the members of TERMIS. It can be found in 1,700 libraries in 20 countries and is provided free online to 106 developing countries. The journal has over 250,000 full text downloads and 500,000 abstract downloads per year with an impact factor of approximately 4.5.

Dr. Vacanti has authored over 320 original reports, 69 book chapters, 54 reviews, and over 473 abstracts. He has 81 patents or patents pending in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Japan.

Dr. Vacanti has received numerous honors and awards. In 2001, he was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. In 2007, the Board of Directors of City Trusts, acting for the city of Philadelphia, awarded Dr. Vacanti the John Scott Award, which is given to the most deserving men and women whose inventions have contributed in some outstanding way to the comfort, welfare, and happiness of mankind. The award has been given in memory of Benjamin Franklin since 1822, with previous recipients including Marie Curie, the Wright brothers, Thomas Edison, and Jonas Salk.

Dr. Vacanti became a 2011 Thomson Reuters Citation Laureate in the field of physiology or medicine. Thomson Reuters Citation Laureates are an elite group of highly cited, high-impact researchers, who are likely contenders for other awards in the future, including The Nobel Prize.

Dr. Vacanti also received the William E. Ladd Medal in 2013, which is the highest honor awarded by the Surgical Section of the American Academy of Pediatrics and considered by many to be the most prestigious award in the field of pediatric surgery.


About Joseph P. Vacanti, MD, FACS

Dr. Vacanti received his bachelor of science, summa cum laude, from Creighton University, Omaha, NE, in 1970, and graduated first in his class. He received his medical degree with high distinction from the University of Nebraska and a master of science from Harvard Medical School. Dr. Vacanti trained in general surgery at the Massachusetts General Hospital, in pediatric surgery at Children's Hospital, Boston, and in transplantation at the University of Pittsburgh.

About the American College of Surgeons

The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational organization of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to raise the standards of surgical practice and improve the quality of care for all surgical patients. The College is dedicated to the ethical and competent practice of surgery. Its achievements have significantly influenced the course of scientific surgery in America and have established it as an important advocate for all surgical patients. The College has more than 80,000 members and is the largest organization of surgeons in the world. For more information, visit

For a list of all Jacobson Innovation Award Recipients, visit:

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