M.S. ​Harvard School of Public Health (health care management) M.D. ​University of Zurich, SwitzerlandResidency, Geneva University Hospital; Triemli Spital; Kantonsspital Uri Fellowship, University of Alberta Hospital

"My overall focus at UVA is to remove barriers to transplantation and improve access for those in need."

Jose Oberholzer, Professor of Surgery and Biomedical Engineering

José Oberholzer, MD, MHCM, FACS, is a researcher and surgeon and the director of the Charles O. Strickler Transplant Center. Dr. Oberholzer has performed over 1,000 transplant-related surgeries and is an expert in liver, kidney, pancreas and small bowel transplants, as well as organ transplants in patients with diabetes. In addition to his clinical practice, Dr. Oberholzer specializes in islet transplantation and parathyroid transplantation, as well as vascular access for hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis catheter placements. Additionally, he practices minimal invasive, robotic assisted surgery, including robotic kidney and pancreas transplantation, living donor nephrectomy, adrenalectomy, liver and pancreas surgery and hernia surgery. Dr. Oberholzer speaks four languages: English, Spanish, German and French.

A career innovator, Dr. Oberholzer pioneered the use of robotic-assisted surgery to provide overweight patients with safe access to kidney and pancreas transplants. He holds three patents, helped found two start-up companies, and is the founder and coordinator of the Chicago Diabetes Project, an international research collaboration for a functional cure for diabetes. His overall focus at UVA is to remove barriers to transplantation and improve access for those in need.

Dr. Oberholzer came to UVA from the University of Illinois, Chicago, where he was a transplant surgeon and professor of surgery and bioengineering from 2003-2017, and led the Division of Transplantation for almost a decade.

Dr. Oberholzer obtained a master's degree in health care management from Harvard School of Public Health. Raised in Switzerland, he earned his medical degree from the University of Zurich Medical School and completed his residency at the University of Geneva, where he later led the Human Islet Transplantation Program. He was a fellow in hepatobiliary and pancreatic surgery and transplantation at the University of Alberta, in Canada. He also earned a master’s degree in healthcare management from the Harvard School of Public Health.

He is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons, a member of the American Society of Transplant Surgeons, the American Medical Association and the American Diabetes Association, and a founding member of the Clinical Robotic Surgery Association. He has published more than 200 peer-reviewed articles and is a frequent presenter at national and international conferences. An active runner, Dr. Oberholzer has completed over 25 marathons to raise money for diabetes research. He initiated the CellMatesOnTheRun Foundation that supports diabetes cure research through charity runners and other philanthropic activities.


  • Fellow of the American College of Surgeons

Research Interests

  • Biotechnology and Biomolecular Engineering (Biomolecular Design, Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering)

Selected Publications

  • Islet Microencapsulation: Strategies and Clinical Status in Diabetes. Curr Diab Rep. 2017 Jul;17(7):47. doi: 10.1007/s11892-017-0877-0. Review. PMID: 28523592 ABS Omami M, McGarrigle JJ, Reedy M, Isa D, Ghani S, Marchese E, Bochenek MA, Longi M, Xing Y, Joshi I, Wang Y, Oberholzer J.
  • Liver Track Embolization After Islet Cell Transplant: Comparison of Two Techniques. AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2017 May;208(5):1134-1140. doi: 10.2214/AJR.16.17148. PMID: 28436697 ABS Gaba RC, Kobayashi KR, Bui JT, Lokken RP, Lipnik AJ, Ray CE Jr, Oberholzer J
  • Robotic pancreas transplantation in a type 1 diabetic patient with morbid obesity: A case report. Medicine (Baltimore). 2017 Feb;96(6):e5847. doi: 0.1097/MD.0000000000005847. PMID: 28178127 ABS Yeh CC, Spaggiari M, Tzvetanov I, Oberholzer J.
  • Effect of Manufacturing Procedures on Human Islet Isolation From Donor Pancreata Standardized by the North American Islet Donor Score. Cell Transplant. 2017 Jan 24;26(1):33-44. doi: 10.3727/096368916X692834. Epub 2016 Aug 12. PMID: 27524672 ABS Yeh CC, Wang LJ, McGarrigle JJ, Wang Y, Liao CC, Omami M, Khan A, Nourmohammadzadeh M, Mendoza-Elias J, McCracken B, Marchese E, Barbaro B, Oberholzer J.

Featured Grants & Projects

  • Clinical Practice

    Liver Transplant, Kidney Transplant, Pancreas Transplant, Islet Cell Transplant, Nephrectomy, Adrenalectomy, Hemodialysis, Peritoneal Dialysis.

  • Research Interests

    Cell Transplantation for diabetes. Encapsulation Technology. Biochip development. Molecular biology of islet cell proliferation. Clinical trials investigating cell therapies. Clinical trials investigating impact of obesity on transplant outcomes and strategies to improve transplant outcomes. Use of minimal invasive techniques in transplantation. Transplantation across immunological barriers.