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About Us

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In 2018, we started conducting research to create an evidence-based website to inform the public about the opportunity to donate Vascularized Composite Allograft (VCA) organs (e.g., hands, face, uterus, penis) funded by the Department of Defense. Our research enabled us to provide comprehensive information to the public about VCAs and their benefits to recipients in order to promote life-enhancing organ donations.


To build the, we conducted research with members of the general public (potential organ donors) and with VCA experts to determine the best ways to inform the US public about VCAs. We thank VCA recipients Joe DiMeo, Chelsea Jovanovich, Jennifer Gobrecht, Robert Chelsea, and Chris Pollock for sharing their VCA experiences for this public education effort.


Website development was supported by US Department of Defense Awards #W81XWH-18-1-0779, #W81XWH-18-1-0780, and #W81XWH-18-1-0781. The opinions and assertions expressed on this website are those of the research study team and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the US Department of Defense.


Our research team is made up of VCA experts and researchers from NYU Langone Health, Infinite Legacy, Johns Hopkins University, and Vanderbilt University. Below are the VCA experts who led website development across their respective sites.

NYU Langone Health Center for
Surgical and Transplant Applied Research (C-STAR)

Macey Levan, JD, PhD

Initiating Principal Investigator

Macey Levan is an Associate Professor of Surgery and Population Health at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine and Director of the Center for Surgical and Transplant Applied Research Qualitative Core at the NYU Langone Health Transplant Institute. She is the Social Media Editor for Transplantation, the most cited and influential journal in the field. In addition, she has served on the Social Media Committee for the Academy for Professionalism in Health Care. She is also an adjunct Associate Professor of Surgery at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in the Department of Surgery in the Division of Transplantation. The NIH, HRSA, and the Department of Defense primarily fund her research in technological innovations to improve the patient and public experience with organ donation and transplantation.

Vanderbilt University


Elisa J. Gordon, PhD, MPH

Partnering Principal Investigator

Elisa J. Gordon, PhD, MPH is Professor in the Department of Surgery, and the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN. Dr. Gordon is a medical anthropologist, and trained in clinical medical ethics and in Community Health. Dr. Gordon’s scholarship focuses on transplant ethics, health disparities, and treatment decision-making. She has published over 175 peer-reviewed articles. Dr. Gordon is the Principal Investigator for research funded by the NIDDK, NIAID, DOD, VA, and HRSA, which has entailed multi-site studies and clinical trials involving qualitative and mixed-methods research and implementation science. Dr. Gordon has developed, implemented, and evaluated culturally targeted complex organizational, educational, and digital health interventions to reduce health disparities and improve informed consent for transplant candidates and living donors. She currently serves on national committees including the Health Equity Advisory Board of End-Stage Renal Disease of the ESRD National Coordinating Center, the federal Advisory Committee on Blood and Tissue Safety and Availability, as Chair of the American Society of Transplantation’s Psychosocial and Ethics Community of Practice, and on the Editorial Board of the American Journal of Transplantation. She is Fellow of the Society for Applied Anthropology and of the American Society of Transplantation.

Johns Hopkins University


Gerald Brandacher, MD, FAST

Partnering Principal Investigator

Gerald Brandacher, MD, FAST is Professor of Translational and Experimental Transplant Surgery, Executive Vice Chair for Research and Co-Director of the Department of Visceral Transplant, and Thoracic Surgery, and Scientific Director of the Daniel Swarovski Transplantation Research Laboratory at Innsbruck Medical University. He is also a professor in the Departments of Surgery and Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and serves as the Scientific Director of the reconstructive transplantation program at Johns Hopkins. Dr. Brandacher received his medical degree from Leopold Franzens University, Innsbruck, School of Medicine, and completed further surgical training at the Center of Operative Medicine, Department of Visceral, Transplant and Thoracic Surgery, at Innsbruck Medical University.


Prior to returning to the Medical University of Innsbruck in 2023, Dr. Brandacher was scientific director, and a key member of the reconstructive transplant programs at the University of Pittsburgh and at Johns Hopkins University. At these programs he was instrumental in designing a novel cell-based immunomodulatory treatment protocol for VCA and was also part of the surgical team performing the first bilateral hand transplant and first forearm transplant in the US. In 2018, Dr. Brandacher was a core member of the team executing the world’s first total male genital transplant. Dr. Brandacher was elected as Chair of the VCA Committee of the European Society of Organ Transplantation (ESOT) in 2015, and is a Founding Member of the American Society of Reconstructive Transplantation (ASRT), for which he currently serves as immediate Past President.

Infinite Legacy

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Ieesha Johnson

Partnering Principal Investigator

As the Director of Community Outreach at Infinite Legacy, Ieesha holds a pivotal role in spearheading initiatives to raise awareness about organ, eye, and tissue donation across Maryland.  Ieesha is the founder of Infinite Legacy's "The Decision Project", a grassroots initiative that empowers socially disadvantaged communities that are affected by donation and transplantation to make an educated and inspired decision about donation.


Presently, Ieesha serves as the President at the Association for Multicultural Affairs in Transplantation (AMAT). Beyond her presidency, she contributes as a Subject Matter Expert for the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations' (AOPO) Impact committee and as a member of the DEI committee. Ieesha's diverse contributions encompass her role as an Expert Panelist for The Division of Transplantation within the Department of Health and Human Services, concentrating on donation education and outreach. Additionally, she holds a position on the Advisory Council of Donate Life America.


Alongside her professional commitments, Ieesha holds the position of Health Chair for the Maryland State Conference at The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and actively volunteers for the Maryland Medical Reserve Corps.

Research Publications and Presentations


Van Pilsum Rasmussen SE, Uriarte J, Anderson N, Doby B, Ferzola A, Sung H, Cooney C, Brandacher G, Gordon E, Segev DL, Henderson ML. Public education materials about Vascular Composite Allotransplantation and donation in the United States: Current scope and limitations. Clin Transplant. 2020 Nov;34(11):e14066. doi: 10.1111/ctr.14066. Epub 2020 Oct 5. PMID: 32810365.


Ferzola A, Uriarte J, Sung HC, Anderson N, Sidoti C, Van Pilsum Rasmussen SE, Downey M, Vanterpool KB, Langlee W, Klitenic S, Young L, Cooney CM, Johnson I, Coleman A, Shores JT, Segev DL, Brandacher G, Gordon EJ, Levan ML. Public Perceptions and Information Needs of VCA Transplantation and Donation: A Mixed Methods Study. Transpl Int. 2022 Nov 14;35:10752. doi: 10.3389/ti.2022.10752. PMID: 36451683; PMCID: PMC9701711.



Sidoti C, Ferzola A, Sung C, Rasmussen S, Gordon E, Anderson N, Uriarte J, Cooney C, Brandacher G, Levan M. A Delphi Panel to Develop Public Educational Materials About Vascular Composite Allotransplantation (VCA). Am J Transplant. 2021; 21 (suppl 3). Accessed November 13, 2023.

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