Sophomore Seminars

Current Concepts in Transplantation

Completion of PWR 1 or other WR 1 course. Advanced placement biology, Biology 41/42, or Human Biology 2A/3A recommended.

Will tissues and organs be grown in a laboratory for transplantation to humans? A severe shortage of donor organs and tissues has led to some novel solutions to save lives. This course will cover the biological aspects of cell and organ transplantation and the associated challenges. We will discuss the diseases for which transplantation is a treatment; the state of the art in human transplantation; transplantation of animal tissue into humans (xenotransplantation); development of new tissue and organs in the laboratory; the development of new drugs and biological strategies to promote long-term survival of the tissue or organ (tolerance); and the health policy, legislation, and ethics of transplantation. The course will be team-taught and will include readings from the popular and scientific literature, discussions, scientific writing, and presentations.

This course fulfills the second-level Writing and Rhetoric Requirement (WRITE 2) and emphasizes oral and multimedia presentation.

Meet the Instructor(s)

Sheri Krams

"One of the most rewarding aspects of my life at Stanford is the ability to work closely with our students and trainees. I love exposing students to the science that I am passionate about. In my laboratory, I do research on the mechanisms that control the immune response to foreign cells and tissue. Our basic science studies using experimental models, and our translational studies, using samples from clinical transplant patients, all have the goal of prolonging the survival of foreign cells and organs and minimizing complications. In recent studies, we have performed a high-dimensional single cell analysis, using mass cytometry, to identify a human cell population that distinguishes transplant recipients who maintain their foreign liver grafts without taking any immunosuppressive drugs. In other studies, we have identified a microRNA expressed by a specific cell that prolongs allograft survival and have received a patent to develop this technology. Thus, our research will lead to development of diagnostics and therapeutics to improve outcomes after transplantation. Check out our research at"

Originally from New York, Dr. Krams now calls the Bay Area home. She received her Ph.D. in immunology from UC Davis and did postdoctoral work at UCSF before joining the Stanford faculty. She is a professor in surgery/transplant and faculty in the Stanford Immunology Program. Dr. Krams is chair of graduate admissions for immunology and teaches one of the core graduate immunology courses. She received an Excellence in Teaching Award, from Stanford Medicine and the Stanford Biosciences Community, and is the recipient of other Mentor awards. Her research contributions were recognized by a Basic Science Investigator Award from the American Society of Transplantation.

Olivia Martinez

"I was born and raised in East Los Angeles, attended college at the University of Southern California and received my Ph.D. from UC Berkeley in immunology. In my graduate studies I developed methods to utilize antibodies for delivery of drugs or toxins to tumor cells. After graduate school I went to UCSF as a postdoctoral fellow, where I became fascinated by the ways in which the immune system recognizes and responds to foreign tissue in the form of organ transplants. In 1995 I joined the faculty at Stanford, where my laboratory works to deconstruct the cellular and molecular features of the immune response to a graft in order to find new strategies to prolong organ transplant survival. We also study the paradox of Epstein-Barr virus, a microbe that infects most of us without consequence, yet in transplant recipients can cause a life-threatening form of cancer. One of my favorite aspects of being on the faculty at Stanford is teaching and mentoring students. As director of the Ph.D. Program in Immunology, I am responsible for all aspects of student training for our 50+ graduate students, including requirements and curriculum, training, funding, and evaluation of student progress. I am honored to have been recognized for my service and mentorship to our students with awards from the Vice Provost of Graduate Education and Stanford Biosciences. The Sophomore Seminar is always a highlight of my academic year because of the opportunity to work closely with our amazing undergraduates on a topic that spans the social, ethical, economic, medical, and scientific implications of transplanting cells and tissues in people."