Joseph Scalea M.D. Joins Department of Surgery

Lauren Hooker
May 26, 2022
Dr. Scalea

Joseph Scalea, M.D. joins the MUSC Department of Surgery on May 30 as a Professor of Transplant Surgery and the inaugural Vice Chair of Innovation in the Department of Surgery. At MUSC Health, Dr. Scalea will serve as Surgical Director of Kidney Transplant. He also has a leadership role as the Director of Hepatology, Nephrology, and Transplant ICCE Quality and Innovation. As the inaugural Vice Chair of Innovation, Dr. Scalea will lead expansion in commercialization and innovation to help translate innovative ideas from the laboratory to industry. 

Before joining MUSC, Dr. Scalea was the Director of Kidney, Pancreas, and Islet Cell Transplantation at the University of Maryland. He also worked clinically on both the kidney and liver transplant teams. Under his leadership at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, the Simultaneous Kidney Pancreas (SPK) Transplant Program was recognized nationally for volume growth and excellence in quality, receiving the Interlink Transplant Network: Chairman’s Award for Top Performer in the USA - SPK. In addition to his clinical practice at UMD, Dr. Scalea directed a translational immunology laboratory focused on novel methods of inducing transplantation tolerance.

He is an NIH-funded researcher with more than 80 peer-reviewed papers in addition to multiple book chapters and published abstracts. His laboratory focuses on the use of Myeloid Derived Suppressor Cells (MDSCs) for the induction of transplantation tolerance. In this regard, his laboratory collaborates with experts in proteomics to build novel immunosuppressive drugs that exploit the suppressive nature of MDSCs. Dr. Scalea has shown that MDSCs alone can control alloreactivity and could be expanded to the benefit of transplant recipients. Separately, Dr. Scalea dedicates important time to understanding how environmental forces affect organs during shipment, and how these effects drive organ shipment logistics.

He serves as Section Editor – Innovation for Current Transplantation Reports and as an Associate Editor for Frontiers in Abdominal Transplantation. In addition to significant NIH grant support, he received funding from the American Society of Transplantation and the Greenwall Foundation to study innovations in organ donation and the American Surgical Association Foundation to study novel methods for transplantation tolerance induction.   

Dr. Scalea is an innovator and entrepreneur. He received international notoriety in 2019 for pioneering the use of drones for organ transplants, which was reported in JAMA-Surgery as well as the New York Times, NPR, CNN, and BBC. Some of his many notable awards and recognitions he received include the 2019 Invention of the Year Award during Baltimore Innovation Week, Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2020 by the University of Maryland, and Visionary of the Year Award by the American Society of Transplantation in 2021. In March, 2022, Dr. Scalea was awarded the 2022 University of Maryland Board of Regents’ Faculty Award for Excellence in Innovation.

Based on these scientific pursuits, Dr. Scalea co-founded startup companies MediGO and MissionGO, to answer an unmet need in organ transplantation where logistics are measured in hours and minutes. MediGO and MissionGO integrate Unmanned Aircraft Systems into this complex supply chain. These companies now employ more than 60 people nationwide, and are disrupting the digital health and transportation industries. In April 2022, MediGO and MissionGO won the coveted Gold level Edison Award™ in the category of Aerospace and Robotics. Since 1987, the Edison Awards™ have recognized and honored some of the world’s most innovative new products, services, and business leaders. Separately MediGO has been recognized by Fast Magazine as “world changing idea.”

Dr. Scalia is also a painter and a musician. Works of his art are currently on display in Baltimore and in Washington, D.C.