About Tatsuo Kawai, MD, PhD

Dr. Tatsuo Kawai is a professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School and the A. Benedict Cosimi Chair in Transplant Surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital. He is also director of the Legorreta Center for Clinical Transplantation Tolerance.

His clinical and research interests are primarily focused on development of methods to induce immunological tolerance in organ transplantation. He was the first to report a consistent model for induction of renal allograft tolerance in nonhuman primates through a mixed chimerism approach. This and subsequent pre-clinical reports have extended this approach to the world’s first clinical trials for induction of renal allograft tolerance in HLA mismatched kidney transplantation. This is a seminal achievement of a clinical protocol leading to the first reproducibly successful induction of renal allograft tolerance in humans and was reported in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2008 and 2013. He was awarded the Martin Research Prize at MGH in 2009 and the New Key Opinion Leader Award by the Transplantation Society in 2010 for this work. Most recently, he was appointed an inaugural director of the MGH Legorreta Center for Clinical Transplantation Tolerance, which was built to become the world’s leading center dedicated to preventing organ rejection after transplant surgery without the use of lifelong immunosuppression. 

Clinical Interests:




Massachusetts General Hospital
55 Fruit St.
Boston, MA 02114
Phone: 617-726-2000

Medical Education

  • MD, Nihon University
  • PhD, Tokyo Women's Medical University
  • Residency, Kawasaki City Hospital
  • Residency, Tokyo Women's Medical University
  • Fellowship, Massachusetts General Hospital

American Board Certifications

  • Surgery, Japanese Board of Surgery

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The induction of donor-specific tolerance is currently one of the most important goals of organ or cell transplantation.

Based on our rodent studies on mixed chimerism, we developed a clinically relevant nonmyeloablative preparative regimen to induce mixed chimerism and renal allograft tolerance following donor bone marrow transplantation in MHC fully mismatched cynomolgus monkeys. This approach has been successfully extended to HLA mismatched kidney transplant recipients. In 7/10 recipients who were treated with our mini-bone marrow transplant, immunosuppression was successfully discontinued at 9-14 months following the transplant with the longest survival of 17 years. To expand the clinical program for transplant tolerance, Dr. Kawai helped launch the Legorreta Center for Clinical Transplantation Tolerance at Mass General.

Clinical application of xenotransplantation is another major goal in organ transplantation as a potential way to solve the organ shortage crisis. In collaboration with eGenesis Bio, kidney xenograft survival greater than two years has been achieved in nonhuman primates.


  • Select Publications:  From a  total of 124 peer-reviewed manuscripts, 57 Reviews and 17 Textbook chapters have been published as of Dec 2009. 

    • Kawai T, Cosimi AB, Colvin RB, et al. Mixed allogeneic chimerism and renal allograft tolerance in cynomolgus monkeys. Transplantation 1995; 59 (2): 256.
    • Kawai T, Sogawa H, Boskovic S, et al. CD154 blockade for induction of mixed chimerism and prolonged renal allograft survival in nonhuman primates. Am J Transplant 2004; 4 (9): 1391.
    • Kawai T, Cosimi AB, Spitzer TR, et al. HLA-mismatched renal transplantation without maintenance immunosuppression. N Engl J Med 2008; 358 (4): 353.

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