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Fellowship to be set up in memory of pioneering liver transplant surgeon, Professor Sir Roy Calne

Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust is delighted to be creating a Fellowship in memory of one of the world’s leading transplant pioneers, Professor Sir Roy Calne.

Sir Roy performed the first successful liver transplant in Europe at Addenbrooke’s on 2 May 1968, and dedicated his life to turning seemingly impossible surgery into regular practice at Addenbrooke’s, where he had previously established the kidney transplant service.

In 2018, Sir Roy helped launch ACT’s £250,000 appeal to fund a state-of-the art ‘liver perfusion’ machine. This machine helps newly donated livers survive for longer and, crucially, enables surgeons to ‘test-drive’ livers on a system mimicking the body, ensuring their functionality before transplant.

ACT CEO, Shelly Thake, said: “The Fellowship means Sir Roy’s work will live on in his name. He was very keen on the evolution of science, research, and medicine and was a great mentor and teacher to many. What a great opportunity to give people to learn more and to advance science like he did.

“Sir Roy was a great supporter of our charity and understood what an advantage that gave to science through research and our support within the hospitals. Being able to support someone in their research journey seems befitting for his memory.”

The idea for a Fellowship in Sir Roy’s name was first mooted by colleague, Professor John Bradley.

Sir Roy and Professor Watson welcoming the new liver perfusion machine at Addenbrooke’s back in 2019.

Retired Professor of Transplantation, Chris Watson, a former colleague of Sir Roy’s, described the plan to create a fellowship in his name as “a great tribute to him.”

“We are not going to move forward without research and that was highlighted during COVID where research found a treatment for the disease and further research found a vaccine, so research is fundamental to moving forward in medicine.”

“The single research post or succession of research posts we hope to fund through the Fellowship, depending on how much funds we will have, are important in a small way in that they make up parts of a bigger jigsaw of moving medical fields forward. It’s the small steps that make big differences.”

Professor Watson, who first met Sir Roy as a medical student when he attended teaching sessions run by him in Cambridge on Saturday mornings, later worked with him during his time as both a Registrar and Senior Registrar, as well as during his three-year-research project looking at tolerance in transplantation using Monoclonal Antibodies.

“He was a very good teacher. He was someone who would challenge you to think and he was quite entertaining and amusing at times. And he came in on a Saturday morning, which says a lot. It’s quite impressive really.”

If you would like to give a gift dedicated to the memory of Sir Roy Calne to set up a new Research Fellowship in his name through ACT, visit