King Faisal International Prize (KFIP) recognizes excellence in 5 categories: Service to Islam, Islamic Studies, Arabic Language & Literature, Medicine, and Science, since 1979

Professor Roy Calne

Winner of the  
KFP Prize for  
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Topic: Organ Transplantation


Nationality: United Kingdom


Professor Sir Roy Calne is a towering figure in organ transplantation surgery. Born in Surray, UK in 1930, he received his B.M. and B.S. from Guy’s Hospital Medical School in London in 1953, as well as MA and M.Sc. from Cambridge and London Universities, respectively. He practiced at Guy’s Hospital for one year after graduation, then served in the Royal Army Medical Corps for two years, and as an orthopedic surgeon in Oxford for another two years. Following a tenure at Harvard Medical School, he became surgeon and lecturer at St. Mary’s, Royal Free and Westminister hospitals in London. In 1965, he was appointed Professor of Surgery at Cambridge University, where he started the University’s kidney transplant program, which had since performed an enormous number of operations. Sir Roy was elected Fellow of the Royal Society since the 1970s and was knighted in 1986. He was also Vice-President of the Royal College of Surgeons of England. He is currently Emeritus Professor at Cambridge University, Honorary Fellow of Trinity Hall in Cambridge and Yeoh Ghim Professor of Surgery at the National University of Singapore.

Professor Sir Roy Calne was a key figure in establishing life-saving transplantation as part of routine practice through his work  on drugs to suppress organ rejection. He started working on organ transplantation in 1959 at the Royal College of Surgeons of England, where he described the first effective immunosuppression for kidney transplantation using 6-mercaptopurine. In 1962, he was the first to use a derivative of 6-mercaptopurine in human patients, a treatment later adopted as standard. He also pioneered the use of cyclosporin A, which was so successful in preventing rejection that transplantation of hearts, livers and lungs became common. In 1968, he started the first European liver transplant program. He is also credited with the first pancreas and intestinal transplants in the United Kingdom and the first successful heart-lung transplantation and combined pancreas, liver, intestines, stomach and kidney transplantation in the world. He is one of the world’s foremost specialist in pediatric liver transplantation.

Professor Sir Roy Calne published more than 18 books and hundreds of articles and lectured at some of the world’s most prestigious medical schools. In addition to the King Faisal International Prize for Medicine, he received numerous other prizes, medals, honorary degrees and international invited lectureships. In 1995, the British Transplantation Society incepted the “Sir Roy Calne Award” in his honor. A bronze bust of Sir Roy holding a human liver is placed outside the operating theaters of Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge. Aside from being one of the world’s champions of organ transplantation surgery, Sir Roy Calne is also a gifted oil painter and is a member of the Art Group 90.

Professor Calne, has been awarded the prize, for his pioneering experimental and clinical research on the use of immunosuppressive drugs and other aspects of transplantation has led to the introduction into clinical practice of 6-mercaptopurine (1960), azathioprine (1961) and, most importantly, cyclosporin (1970). Professor Caine’s research on these drugs paved the way for heart, lung, liver, pancreas and kidney transplantation to become standard procedures throughout the world, thereby benefiting huge numbers of patients. Professor Calne also pioneered the use of monoclonal antibodies to prevent graft rejection and made the seminal discovery that liver transplantation is of itself immunosuppressive. This has led to the concept that it may be possible to reduce the use of immunosuppressive drugs in recipients of liver and other organ transplants.

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