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Facts about your liver


• The liver is one of the largest, • In adults, it weighs about 3 pounds

• The liver breaks down toxic substances in the blood

• It can be transplanted • It regenerates itself

Dr. Thomas D. Boyer

Director University of Arizona Liver Research Institute

Scientist, Educator, Clinician Dr. Thomas D. Boyer Targets Liver Diseases By Susan E. Swanberg Galen, a prominent physician, scientist and teacher in ancient Rome, considered the brain to be the seat of reason, the heart the seat of emotion and the liver the seat of passion. Dr. Thomas D. Boyer, a modern-day Galen and director of the University of Arizona’s College of Medicine’s Liver Research Institute, has devoted more than four decades to his passion – studying the liver, its diseases and disorders. Boyer is a vanishing breed. He’s what his friend and colleague, Dr. Steven Goldschmid, associate VP for clinical affairs at the Arizona Health Sciences Center, calls “the three-legged stool,” that rare combination of superb clinician, great scientist and inspiring educator. Boyer, the John Lee Professor of Medicine at the University of Arizona, former head of the UA Department of Medicine and board-certified gastroenterologist on the medical staff of Banner – University Medical Center Tucson, graduated with a medical degree from the University of Southern California 52 BizTucson


Summer 2015

in 1969, where he completed his residency in internal medicine. He joined the UA College of Medicine in 2000 when he was appointed director of the Liver Research Institute, professor in the UA Department of Medicine and physician with the UA Medical Center Liver Transplant Program. Boyer has authored or co-authored more than 100 publications, and coedited the authoritative work, “Hepatology, A Textbook of Liver Disease,” now in its sixth edition. An intense, modest man with an affinity for crisp blue shirts and harmonizing ties, Boyer doesn’t boast about his impressive achievements. He’d prefer to describe the free, walk-in hepatitis C screening clinic held every Friday at the Liver Research Institute, discuss the causes of healthcare disparities in vulnerable populations or share his story about the medical mystery that sparked his career back when “the (laboratory) bench didn’t even know there was a bedside.”

A passion ignited

Boyer’s fascination with the liver, one of the five organs necessary to sustain life, began in the early 1970s when, as a medical resident at Los Angeles County Hospital, he admitted a young woman with jaundiced skin, bruised and bloodshot eyes – a condition physicians call “raccoon eyes” – abdominal tenderness and vomiting. Boyer diagnosed the patient with hepatic necrosis, an acute toxic injury to the liver and kidney failure. Two days prior to her admission, the young woman had swallowed 60 tablets of acetaminophen, commonly known as Tylenol. Suspecting that a Tylenol overdose was the cause of the woman’s illness, Boyer looked up acetaminophen in the “Index Medicus,” the premier medical bibliography of the time, and found nothing about acetaminophen toxicity. Boyer presented the case to his mentor, renowned USC professor and liver expert Dr. Telfer “Pete” Reynolds, who suggested that Boyer search for


most complex organs

BizTucson Summer 2015 Issue  

The Region's Business Magazine

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