Peer M. Portner, PhD, Receives Two Bücherl Awards


Both the European Society for Artificial Organs (ESAO) and the Deutsches Herzzentrum Berlin (German Heart Center of Berlin) have honored Dr. Peer M. Portner with awards coincidentally dedicated to Professor Emil Sebastian Bücherl, cardiac surgeon and artificial heart pioneer. Portner has been a consulting professor of cardiothoracic surgery at the Stanford University School of Medicine since 1989 and previously consulting associate professor of cardiovascular surgery since 1977.

Over three decades, Portner established and led a broadly-based multidisciplinary team in development of the Novacor Left Ventricular Assist System (LVAS). This electrically-powered artificial heart system (originally a totally-implantable design) was developed explicitly for long-term circulatory support in patients with terminal heart failure. Clinical evaluation was initiated at Stanford University Medical Center in 1984 with the world's first successful bridge to transplant. Long-time partner Philip E. Oyer, MD, PhD, the Roy B. Cohn-Theodore A. Falasco Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery, performed this milestone implant in 51-year-old Robert St. Laurent, who returned to Stanford last year to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his transplant.

Clinical utilization of the Novacor heart assist system has since expanded around the globe to more than one hundred leading medical centers in over twenty countries and now exceeds 1600 implants. The current wearable configuration, introduced in 1993, has allowed recipients to leave the hospital and return to an essentially normal lifestyle. Implant durations continue to increase, the longest now exceeding six years. Most recipients go home, many returning to work, while awaiting or as an alternative to transplantation.

The ESAO recently presented the Emil S. Bücherl Award, an award honoring Portner’s lifetime dedication, promotion of, and achievements in the field of artificial organs research, at the opening ceremony of the 2005 ESAO congress in Bologna. The Deutsches Herzzentrum Berlin has chosen Portner to give the distinguished Emil Sebastian Bücherl Memorial Lecture at the 4th Meeting on Mechanical Circulatory Support in Berlin.

Dr. Peer M. Portner