Margaret D. Allen, MD, FACS, Dr Sc (Hon.)
Dr. Margaret Allen completed her undergraduate studies at Swarthmore College and her medical degree at the University of California, San Diego, where she was first exposed to cardiac surgery. After her general surgery residency, she trained in cardiothoracic surgery at King’s College Hospital in London, then practiced as a general surgeon in Papua New Guinea. She returned to the United States for formal cardiothoracic residency at Stanford Hospital under heart transplant pioneer, Dr. Norman Shumway.
After residency training, she joined the cardiothoracic surgical faculty at the University of Washington, where she remains an Affiliate Professor. She founded the regional heart transplant program at the university, the first in the Pacific Northwest, and directed it for over a decade. Other interests in clinical surgery included arrhythmia surgery, heart valve repair and surgery for heart failure. She has served as president of UNOS, the national organ transplant network, been a board member of the Washington State Technology Center, and been selected as one of the Best Doctors in America over seven consecutive surveys.
Beyond transplant surgery, she initiated public health education programs on organ donation for Asian American, African American and Alaska Native communities in Washington and Alaska, and directed multicultural programs on organ donation and transplantation for health science classes in the Seattle public high schools. As Medical Director of the Hope Heart Institute, her public health efforts turned to heart disease prevention. She co-founded a science program on heart disease and bioengineering for Seattle middle schools, and a cooking program for urban elementary schools to teach children about heart-healthy nutrition. Dr. Allen joined the Benaroya Research Institute faculty in 2004 when Hope Heart Institute scientists merged with BRI as the Hope Heart Matrix Biology Program.
Areas of Research
Over her 30 years in research, Dr. Allen’s projects were initially focused on preventing transplant rejection and transplant atherosclerosis by controlling leukocyte emigration into the transplanted organ. She developed gene therapy techniques to treat donor hearts and methods to promote immunologic tolerance to transplanted organs, both designed to allow transplanted organs to survive without the need for recipient immunosuppressive drug therapy. Over the past 13 years, these interests have evolved into therapies to prevent and treat heart failure through emerging technologies that may replace conventional surgery in the future. Her current research utilizes tissue engineering, stem cells, and autologous cardiomyocytes for repair and regeneration of cardiac muscle so that the heart might recover function after myocardial infarction. These techniques are now also being extended to the repair and restoration of skeletal muscle for treatment of major traumatic injuries.
Dalesandro J, Akimoto H, Gorman CM, McDonald TO, Thomas R, Liggitt HD, Allen MD. Gene therapy for donor hearts: ex vivo liposome-mediated transfection. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 111:416-22, 1996.
Akimoto H, McDonald TO, Weyhrich JT, Thomas R, Rothnie CL, Allen MD. Antibody to CD18 reduces neutrophil and T-lymphocyte infiltration and VCAM-1 expression in cardiac rejection. Transplantation 61: 1610-1617, 1996.
Allen MD, Weyhrich J, Akimoto H, Gaur L, Hall J, Dalesandro J, Sai S, Thomas R, Nelson KA, Andrews RG. Prolonged allogeneic and xenogeneic microchimerism can be achieved in unmatched primates without immunosuppression by direct intrathymic implantation of CD34+ donor marrow cells. Cellular Immunology 181: 127-138, 1997.
Richter M, Iwata A, Nyhuis J, Nitta Y, Miller AD, Halbert C, Allen MD: Efficient adeno-associated virus vector transduction of vascular smooth muscle cells in vivo. Physiol. Genomics 2:117-27, 2000.
Iwata A, Sai S, Moore M, Nyhuis J, de Fries-Hallstrand R, Quetingco GC, Allen MD: Gene therapy of transplant arteriopathy by liposome-mediated transfection of endothelial nitric oxide synthase. Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation 19:1017-1028, 2000.
Sai S, Iwata A, Thomas R, Allen MD: VCAM-1 upregulation and phenotypic modulation of vascular smooth muscle cells predate leukocyte infiltration in transplant arteriopathy. Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery 122: 508-17, 2001.
Iwata A, Sai S, Nitta Y, Chen M, de Fries-Hallstrand R, Dalesandro J, Thomas R, Allen MD: Liposome-mediated gene transfection of endothelial nitric oxide synthase reduces endothelial activation and leukocyte infiltration in transplanted hearts. Circulation 103: 2753-2759, 2001.
Carter YM, Thomas R, Bargatze R, Poppa V, Jutila M, Murry CE, Allen MD: Intracoronary E-/L-selectin blockade reduces neutrophil infiltration in heart transplantation. Ann Thor Surg 74:2064-72, 2002.
Kawamoto S, Nitta Y, Miyazaki J-I, Allen MD: Widespread and early myocardial gene expression by adeno-associated virus vector type 6 with a b-actin hybrid promoter. Molecular Therapy 11(6): 980-5, 2005.
Nitta Y, Kawamoto S, Halbert C, Iwata A, Miller AD, Miyazaki J-I, Allen MD. A CMV-actin-globin hybrid promoter improves adeno-associated viral vector gene expression in the arterial wall in vivo. J Gene Medicine, 7: 1348-55, 2005.
Cárdenas V, Thornton JD, Wong KA, Spigner C, Allen MD. Effects of classroom education on knowledge and attitudes regarding organ donation in ethnically diverse urban high schools. Clin Transplant. 24:784-93, 2010. PMCID: PMC2953604
Kawamoto S, Flynn JP, Shi Q, Sakr SW, Luo J, Allen MD. Heme oxygenase-1 induction enhances cell survival and restores contractility to unvascularized three-dimensional adult cardiomyocyte grafts implanted in vivo. Tissue Eng Part A. 17(11-12):1605-14, 2011. PMCID: PMC3098958