Joseph Edward Murray

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 05 February 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f684
  1. Laura Newman
  1. newman{at}

Nobel prize winner whose interest in the biology of tissue and organ transplantation arose from his military experience

Elena V Nuciforo

Joseph Edward Murray is most remembered for performing three landmark surgeries in organ transplantation and winning the Nobel prize in physiology or medicine for them. He shared the 1990 prize with Edward Donnall Thomas (obituary at, who undertook the first bone marrow transplant. In 1954 Murray performed the first successful organ (kidney) transplant between identical twins; in 1959, the first non-identical twin transplant; and in 1962, the first deceased donor transplant with chemical immunosuppression.

His work was also instrumental in developing the first kidney registry, in establishing criteria for brain death in a non-heart beating donor, and in spearheading the first international meeting in kidney transplantation, according to Stefan G Tullius, chief of transplant surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “He had a very human approach to transplantation, and patients were part of his family for over 60 years,” said Tullius.

Murray was always quick to acknowledge the surgical team, the research scientists who made the surgeries possible, and the Peter …

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