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Transplant Surgery

Division of Transplant Surgery - Research Interests

Urology facultyThe Transplant Division within the Department of Surgery at UTMB is performing cutting-edge research in basic science, translational/pre-clinical, as well as clinical research. Our overall goal is to find alternatives to organ transplantation and improve regenerative medicine outcomes. We approach this goal through various projects, including dissection of the molecular mechanisms of stem cell self-renewal vs. cell fate commitment, using stem/progenitor cells for transplantation, and producing novel cell-free reagents for regenerative medicine.


Jeffrey H. Fair, MD

Undergraduate: University of North Carolina, BA in Zoology (with honors)
Medical School: East Carolina University, Brody School of Medicine
Residency: East Carolina University, General Surgery
Fellowship: Johns Hopkins University, Transplant


Research Interests:

Dr. Fair is interested in stem cell and developmental biology as applied to liver-based therapeutics. Specific ongoing projects are using stem cell therapies and transplantation to treat life-threating liver-based genetic metabolic liver diseases in children. Dr. Fair is also pursuing how mechanisms of stem cell engraftment in the liver can both model and define unique progenitor cell kinetics in vivo. Additionally, studies are underway to analyze extended criteria liver donation with the overall goal of limiting ischemia/reperfusion injury and biliary injury.

Selected Awards:

  • NIH/NIDDK K18 “Hepatic differentiation of co-cultured ES cells” (2003).
  • NIH/NHLBI R01 “Correction of hemophilia by embryonic stem cell transplantation” (2005-2008).

Selected Publications:

  • Fagg WS, Liu N, Yang, MJ, Cheng K, Chung E, Kim JS, Wu G, Fair JH. Magnetic targeting of stem cell derivatives enhances hepatic engraftment into structurally normal liver. Cell Transplantation 2017 Dec;26(12):1868-77. February 2018 Print Issue.
  • Fair JH, Cairns BA, Lapaglia MA, Caballero M, Pleasant WA, Hatada S, Kim HS, Gui T, Pevny L, Meyer AA, Stafford DW, Smithies O, and Frelinger JA. Correction of factor IX deficiency in mice by embryonic stem cells differentiated in vitro. PNAS 2005 Feb; 102(8)2958-63.

Full list of publications

faggW. Sam Fagg, MS, PhD

Undergraduate: Lees McRae College, BS in Biology pre-health sciences
Graduate Schools and Advisors: East Carolina University, Master in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology under Dr. Mary Farwell; University of California at Santa Cruz, PhD in Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology under Dr. Manuel Ares Jr.
Postdoctoral Fellowship and Advisors: University of California at Santa Cruz under Dr. Manuel Ares Jr., and University of Texas Medical Branch under Dr. Mariano Garcia-Blanco.

Research Interests:

Sam is broadly interested in identifying and dissecting the molecular mechanisms that regulate cell fate. He is primarily focused on how post-transcriptional regulation such as splicing/alternative splicing, RNA localization/decay, and microRNA biogenesis affect early cell fate decisions. He uses primarily molecular and genomic approaches to identify both regulatory elements and RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) that influence cell fate, then molecular and biochemical methods to dissect their mechanisms. These are followed-up using cell-based analyses to determine the functional contribution of different RBPs and RNAs.

By furthering our basic understanding of these regulatory circuits, Sam hopes to contribute broadly to molecular and cellular biology, regenerative medicine, and pathology (in particular tumorigenesis/cancer). He is also interested in regenerative medicine, and uses various stem cell types for both cell-based and cell-free applications including liver regeneration and wound healing, respectively.

Selected Awards:

  • NIH/NIGMS T32 Fellowship (2010-2012).
  • CA Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) pre-doctoral fellowship “Analysis of Quaking function in stem cell self-renewal and differentiation” (2013-2015).

Selected Publications:

  • Fagg WS, Liu N, Yang, MJ, Cheng K, Chung E, Kim JS, Wu G, Fair JH. Magnetic targeting of stem cell derivatives enhances hepatic engraftment into structurally normal liver. Cell Transplantation 2017 Dec;26(12):1868-77. February 2018 Print Issue.
  • Fagg WS, Liu N, Fair JH, Shiue, L, Katzman S, Donohue JP, Ares M Jr. Autogenous cross-regulation of Quaking mRNA processing and translation balances Quaking functions in splicing and translation. Genes Dev 2017 Sep 15;31(18):1894-1909.
  • deBruin RG, Shiue L, Djarmshi A, deBoer HC, Fagg WS, Prins J, vanGils JM, Kraaijeveld AO, Bohringer S, Leung WY, Kielbasa SM, Donohue JP, Bot I, Duijs JMGJ, vanderZande PHJ, vanKooten C, Rabelink TJ, Jukema JW, vanEsch H, Kazan H, Biessen EAL, Ares M Jr, vanZonneveld AJ, vanderVeer E. Quaking promotes monocyte differentiation into pro-atherogenic macrophages by controlling pre-mRNA splicing and gene expression. Nature Communications 2016; 7:10846.

Full list of Publications

Naiyou Liu, PhDNaiyou Liu, PhD

Dr. Liu obtained his PhD from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2008.

In his current role as Project Research Manager he supports Drs. Fair and Fagg’s research efforts. He is particularly interested in stem cell biology and how plasticity between cell fates/lineages and cell states such as epithelial or mesenchymal can affect outcomes in vitro and in vivo.

Full list of publications