June 15, 2023

Montenovo named chief of Hepatobiliary Surgery and Liver Transplantation

Martin Montenovo, MD, has been named chief of Vanderbilt’s Division of Hepatobiliary Surgery and Liver Transplantation in the Department of Surgery.

Martin Montenovo, MD

Martin Montenovo, MD, associate professor of Surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, has been named chief of the Division of Hepatobiliary Surgery and Liver Transplantation in the Department of Surgery.

Montenovo joined VUMC in September 2019 when he was recruited to help develop and expand the Medical Center’s living donor liver transplant program. Living donor liver transplantation is when a diseased or malfunctioning liver is surgically removed and replaced with a portion of healthy liver from a living donor. Because of the liver’s ability to regenerate, the partial liver soon grows into a complete organ.

In March 2020, Montenovo worked alongside Sophoclis Alexopoulos, MD, then chief of Liver Transplantation, and a large, multidisciplinary transplant team to successfully perform the first such procedure at VUMC. Since then, the living donor liver transplant program has continued to grow.

“Dr. Montenovo’s wealth of knowledge in the field of liver transplantation, his unwavering commitment to clinical excellence and team-based approach have contributed to making our transplant program one of the top programs in the world,” said Carmen Solórzano, MD, chair of the Department of Surgery and John L. Sawyers Professor of Surgical Sciences. “He was an obvious choice for this position.

“In February, he stepped up to provide interim leadership of the Division of Hepatobiliary Surgery and Liver Transplantation. We look forward to celebrating the successes of Dr. Montenovo and our remarkable transplant teams as they restore individuals receiving liver transplants to improved health.”

Since joining the Medical Center faculty, Montenovo has been active in clinical practice, research and leadership for the Division of Hepatobiliary Surgery and Liver Transplantation. He currently serves as surgical director of the Adult Liver Transplant Program and the Combined Heart-Liver Transplant Program.

“Dr. Montenovo has a unique leadership trait of empathy and an aptitude for forging productive collaboration, enhancing the capability of those around him,” said Seth Karp, MD, H. William Scott Jr. Professor and chair of the Section of Surgical Sciences. “In four short years at Vanderbilt, he has also established himself as a highly respected and committed mentor, instrumental in educating the next generation of surgeons.

“VUMC is an established leader in transplantation in the United States, and we’re eager to see future successes and continued improvements in patient care under Dr. Montenovo’s leadership.”

Montenovo received his medical degree at the Universidad Nacional de Rosario in Argentina, and after completing a general surgery residency in Buenos Aires, Argentina, he traveled to the United States for further training and research opportunities.

He was a visiting scholar at the University of Washington (UW) in Seattle where he received training in cardiac and lung transplantation. He then worked as a senior fellow in UW’s Esophageal Motility Disorders Laboratory and conducted outcomes research in the Division of Transplantation at UW.

Montenovo completed a second general surgery residency, as well as a clinical fellowship of abdominal organ transplantation at UW. He then received further training in living donor liver transplantation at Asan Medical Center in South Korea, the Cleveland Clinic, the University of Hong Kong and Mayo Clinic.

In April 2022, Montenovo became the surgical director of VUMC’s combined heart-liver transplant program which is now one of the largest such programs in the country with clinical outcomes meeting or exceeding national numbers. With the goal expanding the pool of organ donors, Montenovo was part of a team that developed a protocol of using Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation during the recovery of deceased after circulatory death  donors.

This protocol is already having a significant impact in organ utilization and is changing the current paradigm of organ recovery.

“Being the chief of the Division of Hepatobiliary Surgery and Liver Transplantation at Vanderbilt is a big honor, and at the same time a huge responsibility,” Montenovo said. “Our Transplant Center is one of the busiest and most innovative programs in the country, and we are always trying to find new ways to increase donor utilization to save more lives.

“I see transplantation as the ultimate team sport. We count on everyone’s expertise, and we all play a role to make sure our patients receive the highest quality of care. Every member of the team has a deep passion for what we do for our patients.”

Montenovo has published more than 50 peer-reviewed articles, invited reviews and book chapters, largely focused on increasing organ utilization, especially from marginal donors. He has presented his research locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.

Montenovo is certified in surgery by the American Board of Surgery and certified in liver and kidney transplantation by the American Society of Transplant Surgeons.

He is a member of the American Society of Transplant Surgeons, Americas Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Foundation, International Liver Transplant Society and the American College of Surgeons.