Meet the Team at the Texas Liver Tumor Center

Hepatobiliary and Transplant Surgery

Gregory Abrahamian, MDDr. Gregory Abrahamian specializes in adult and pediatric kidney and liver transplant surgery. Dr. Abrahamian received his medical degree from the UT Health, San Antonio. He completed his residency and transplant fellowship at Wilford Hall Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, and Massachusetts General Hospital. He specializes in adult and pediatric kidney and liver transplant surgery and has served with the United States Air Force overseas. Dr. Abrahamian has also contributed to many notable publications in his field.

Francisco Cigarroa, MDDr. Francisco Cigarroa is a nationally renowned transplant surgeon. He received his bachelor’s degree in biology from Yale University and his medical degree from The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. He completed fellowships in pediatric surgery and transplant surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He has been a UT Health faculty member since 1995 and was part of the surgical team that performed the first split liver donor transplant between two recipients in Texas. In 2003, President George W. Bush appointed Dr. Cigarroa to serve on the President’s Committee on the National Medal of Science. In 2009, Dr. Cigarroa became the first Hispanic to be named Chancellor of The University of Texas System. After five years, he returned full-time to his passion for transplant and hepatobiliary surgery. He is fluent in Spanish and English. Dr. Cigarroa has also contributed to many notable publications in his field.

Danielle Fritze, MDDr. Danielle Fritze is an assistant professor in the Division of Organ Transplantation in the Department of Surgery at UT Health, San Antonio. Dr. Fritze completed her medical degree and subsequent surgical training at the University of Michigan. Following general surgery residency, she pursued additional fellowship training in transplantation and hepatobiliary surgery. Dr. Fritze specializes in liver and kidney transplantation as well as surgery of the liver, bile duct, and pancreas. She has a special interest in pediatric transplantation. Dr. Fritze has also contributed to many notable publications in her field.

Glenn Halff, MDDr. Glenn Halff is Director of the Transplant Center at UT Health San Antonio and University Hospital. He received his medical degree at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston, Texas. He completed his residency and internship at New York University in New York City, New York and his transplant fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh. In 1992, he started the liver transplant program at University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. He performs adult and pediatric liver and kidney transplants. He along with Dr. Francisco Cigarroa performed the first split liver transplant in South Texas. He also performs adult-to-adult living liver transplants and specializes in all liver, biliary and pancreas surgeries. Dr. Halff has also contributed to many notable publications in his field.

Tarunjeet Klair, MD Dr. Tarunjeet Klair is an assistant professor in the Division of Organ Transplantation in the Department of Surgery at UT Health, San Antonio. Dr. Klair completed his medical degree from Manipal University in India and his general surgery training at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Medical Center in New York. He received fellowship training in abdominal organ transplantation and hepatobiliary surgery at the Columbia University Medical Center/New York Presbyterian Hospital. At Columbia, Dr. Klair was trained by some of the pioneers in transplantation – Drs. Jean Emond and Lloyd Ratner. Dr. Klair performs liver and kidney transplant surgery for adults and children. His special interests are in living donor liver transplantation and treatment of liver cancer. Dr. Klair has also contributed to many notable publications in his field.

Hepatology

Dr. Naim AlkhouriDr. Naim Alkhouri is the Director of the Metabolic Health Center at the Texas Liver Institute. Prior to joining TLI and UT Health, San Antonio, he was Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Digestive Disease Institute and Director of the Metabolic Liver Disease Clinic. Dr. Alkhouri completed his medical degree at the University of Damascus in Syria before completing his internal medicine and pediatric post-graduate training and residency at Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia. Dr. Alkhouri completed his pediatric gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition fellowship at Cleveland Clinic and finally an Adult Transplant Hepatology fellowship at the Digestive Disease and Surgery Institute, Cleveland Clinic. Among many research awards, Dr. Alkhouri received the American College of Gastroenterology Junior Faculty Development Award. Dr. Alkhouri is fluent in Arabic and English. Dr. Alkhouri has also contributed to many notable publications in his field.

Juan Guerrero, MDDr. Juan Guerrero received his medical degree from the Medical College of Wisconsin and completed his residency in internal medicine at UT Health. He went on to complete a fellowship in hepatology specializing in transplant at UT Health. Dr. Guerrero is a transplant hepatologist but also proficient in the endoscopic diagnosis and therapy of patients with advanced liver disease. He is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in gastroenterology and hepatology. Dr. Guerrero has also contributed to many notable publications in his field.

Landaverde CarmenDr. Carmen Landaverde is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at UT Health, San Antonio where she attends on the wards and teaches the house staff. Prior to joining The Texas Liver Institute-Austin, Dr. Landaverde completed her Gastroenterology and Hepatology Fellowship at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and her Transplant Hepatology Fellowship at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, Texas. She has authored and co-authored review articles on the management of fluid retention and cirrhosis, NAFLD and nutrition, outcomes in liver re-transplantation and treatment of hepatitis C. She is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine, Gastroenterology and Hepatology, and Transplant Hepatology. Dr. Landaverde is fluent in Spanish and English.

Lawitz EricDr. Eric Lawitz is a VP, Scientific and Research Development at Texas Liver Institute and a Clinical Professor of Medicine at UT Health, San Antonio. Dr. Lawitz received a B.S. from University of Illinois Chicago and M.D. from Rush Medical College. Dr. Lawitz received his postgraduate training in Gastroenterology/Hepatology at Brooke Army Medical Center and is board certified in Gastroenterology/Hepatology. Dr. Lawitz has over 300 publications to include publications in the New England Journal of Medicine, Gastroenterology, Lancet, Hepatology, and Journal of Hepatology. In addition, Dr. Lawitz serves on the editorial board of Lancet, Gastroenterology, American Journal of Gastroenterology, Gastroenterology & Clinical Gastroenterology, Hepatology, Journal of Hepatology, and Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology.

Dr. Nicole LooDr. Nicole Loo is the Director of Hepatobiliary Cancer at the Texas Liver Institute. Prior to joining TLI, she trained at world renowned institutions for liver and liver transplantation including internal medicine residency at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota followed by gastroenterology fellowship at Yale in New Haven, Connecticut and, finally, liver transplantation fellowship at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Her research interests include hepatitis B, portal hypertension, and liver cancer. She has previously served on the American Gastroenterology Association’s (AGA) Education & Training Committee and the Trainee Committee and has contributed as an author to the AGA’s DDSEP 8 study test questions bank. She is an Assistant Professor at the UT Health, San Antonio. She is fluent in Chinese and English. Dr. Loo has also contributed to many notable publications in her field.

Poordad FredDr. Fred Poordad is Professor of Medicine at the UT Health, San Antonio, Vice President of Academic and Clinical Affairs at The Texas Liver Institute and Chief of Hepatology and the University Transplant Center. Dr. Poordad received his bachelor and medical doctorate at the University of Alberta in Edmonton and completed a residency in internal medicine at St. Thomas Medical Center and Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine. Dr. Poordad also completed fellowships in gastroenterology at the University of South Carolina and in hepatology/liver transplantation at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. Poordad sits on multiple committees for national societies and has over 300 publications including numerous book chapters, abstracts, educational monographs and publishes in such journals as Gastroenterology, Hepatology, Liver Transplantation, the New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of Hepatology, American Journal of Transplantation, and International Journal of Artificial Organs. Dr. Poordad has also contributed to many notable publications in his field.

Fabian Rodas, MDDr. Fabian Rodas is the Director of Transplant Services at Texas Liver Institute and is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio. Prior to joining the Texas Liver Institute and UT Health, he completed his Hepatology Fellowship at Carolinas Healthcare System in Charlotte, North Carolina. Dr. Rodas also has international experience caring for patients in hospital systems in other countries and is fluent in Spanish and English. He has a special interest in liver transplant outcomes as well as the study of portal hypertension and decompensated liver disease. While at the Carolinas Healthcare System, his research included studying the natural history of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC). Dr. Rodas is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and is fluent in Spanish. Dr. Rodas has also contributed to many notable publications in his field.

Speeg KermitDr. Kermit Speeg completed graduate school (BA, MA, PhD) at Rice University studying comparative biochemistry and physiology. He received his medical degree from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas and completed a medicine residency in Nashville, Tennessee at the Vanderbilt University Affiliated Hospitals. He was a Research Associate in the US Public Health Service at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, MD for two years before going back to Vanderbilt to complete GI fellowship. He came to UT Health San Antonio in 1982 and is a tenured Professor Medicine and a Fellow of the American Association for the Study of Liver Disease. He transitioned from primarily bench research to clinical care during the last 15 years. He has been a transplant hepatologist and medical director of adult liver transplantation at University Transplant Center since the beginning of the program. Dr. Speeg has also contributed to many notable publications in his field.

Wells JenniferDr. Jennifer Wells is from Fort Worth and attended Baylor University where she graduated with a BA in Biology. She went to Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center for her Medical Degree. She completed her Internal Medicine residency, Gastroenterology fellowship as well as her Transplant Hepatology fellowship at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in Madison, WI. Dr. Wells joined the faculty at Baylor University Medical Center’s transplant program in Dallas where she practiced for 6 years. In 2015, Dr. Wells joined Texas Liver Institute and UT Health in Austin. She is an Assistant Professor at the UT Health, San Antonio. Dr. Wells has also contributed to many notable publications in her field.

Interventional Radiology

Garza Berlanga AndresDr. Andres Garza-Berlanga completed his Medical School and Radiology Residency training in Monterrey, Mexico. Then, he completed a two year fellowship in Vascular and Interventional Radiology at RUSH University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois. Dr. Garza-Berlanga joined UT Health faculty in 2011 He performs a wide range of minimally invasive procedures to treat cancer and arterial, venous and liver diseases. His main interest is the treatment of tumors through percutaneous ablation and catheter based techniques.

Kroma GhazwanDr. Ghazwan Kroma received his medical degree from Damascus University in Syria in 1994. He completed his residency in Diagnostic Radiology in 1997 at Damascus University. Dr. Kroma worked as a diagnostic radiologist in Syria and Saudi Arabia from 1997 to 2004. He then completed a Neuroradiology fellowship at Louisiana State University in 2005; followed by two years of Interventional Radiology fellowships at Louisiana State University and the UT Health-San Antonio. He joined UT Health faculty in 2007. Dr. Kroma is certified by the American Board of Radiology for diagnostic radiology followed by a Certificate of Advanced Qualification in vascular interventional radiology (CAQ).

Lopera JorgeDr. Jorge Lopera completed his Medical School and Radiology Residency training in Medellin, Colombia. He completed two years of Interventional Radiology fellowship training at Louisiana State University in New Orleans. He is certified by the American Board of Radiology in Diagnostic Radiology and in Interventional Radiology. Dr. Lopera is a Fellow of the Society of Interventional Radiology. His main interests are the treatment of liver tumors, peripheral vascular interventions, treatment of arterio-venous malformations (AVMs) and dialysis related interventions.

Suri RajeevDr. Rajeev Suri received his medical degree from The Christian Medical College in India. He has completed residencies in diagnostic radiology at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in India. He completed a Cardiovascular and Abdominal Interventional Radiology Fellowship at the University of California Los Angeles. Dr. Suri is Board Certified by the American College of Radiology. His clinical interests include carotid artery stent placement, chemoembolization, infrainguinal arterial interventions, radiofrequency ablations, uterine fibroid embolizations, and transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunts.

John Walker, MDDr. John A. Walker, Jr. completed his medical training with the UT School of Medicine at San Antonio. Following medical school, he completed a two-year research fellowship with the US Army Institute for Surgical Research working in regenerative medicine and imaging. He then obtained a research doctorate in imaging with the UT School of Biomedical Sciences while simultaneously training in the UT School of Medicine at San Antonio Diagnostic Radiology residency. Through his efforts, he completed the prestigious ABR Holman Radiology Research Pathway. He then completed a fellowship in the UT School of Medicine at San Antonio Vascular and Interventional Radiology Program. Upon completion of his training, Dr. Walker joined the UT faculty in 2016.

Laura Barnes, MDDr. Laura Barnes graduated from University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, Texas. She continued her training at UT Southwestern completing Radiology Residency at Parkland Memorial Hospital, where she served as Chief Resident for two years. She completed her Vascular and Interventional Radiology Fellowship at Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, SC. Dr. Barnes is board certified by the American Board of Radiology. Dr. Barnes performs a wide range of minimally invasive procedures related to cancer treatment, dialysis access, and vascular diseases. Her clinical areas of interest are in the minimally invasive treatment of tumors and radial artery access for angiography.

Hematology/Oncology

avatarDr. Sukeshi Patel Arora is a native of San Antonio, graduated from University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, Texas, and completed her Internal Medicine Residency and Medical Hematology and Oncology Fellowship at the UT Health, San Antonio. She has been Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology/Oncology, UT Health Cancer Center, since 2014. As the leader for gastrointestinal malignancies, her clinical and research interests are gastrointestinal malignancies, GI geriatric oncology, and high-risk gastrointestinal cancer syndromes, such as Lynch syndrome.

avatarDr. Laura Tenner is a faculty member in the division of hematology/oncology. She completed her medical oncology fellowship at Indiana University School of Medicine, during which time she also completed a fellowship in clinical ethics at the Charles Warren Fairbanks Center for Medical Ethics. Dr. Tenner is board certified in both internal medicine and medical oncology with a focus in gastrointestinal cancers. She serves nationally on the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Board of Ethics as well as the ASCO Cancer Prevention Committee. Her research includes using principles of ethics to help inform health services research and health policy.

Clinical Coordinator

Katherine Crow, PAKatherine Crow, PA is a board certified physician assistant and the clinical coordinator for the Texas Liver Tumor Center. She graduated from Baylor University in 1991 with a BS in Education and again in 1993 with a Master’s degree in biology specializing in genetics. She was an adjunct professor of biology for 9 years at colleges in Ohio, Maryland, and Texas. Ms. Crow completed her Physician Assistant Studies degree at Louisiana State University Medical Center in 2009. Her experience includes interventional radiology specializing in interventional oncology and hepatobiliary interventions, as well as a surgical physician assistant in hepatobiliary surgery and solid organ transplant. She was the liver and pancreas tumor board coordinator at Louisiana State University Hospital and at the McDonald Regional Transplant Center both in Shreveport, Louisiana and continues in this role at the Texas Liver Tumor Center.

Nutrition

Barbara SwansonBarbara Swanson ND, RDN, LDN is one of the registered and licensed dietitians at the Texas Liver Tumor Center. She is also a naturopathic doctor with three additional master’s degrees in nutrition, natural health and holistic nutrition. She has 10 years of experience working with oncology patients at the UT Health Cancer Center and three and a half years at the Cancer Care Centers of South Texas. She currently serves as a transplant dietitian at UT Health-San Antonio/ University Health. Barbara has been in practice for 24 years and has experience in geriatrics, bariatrics, internal medicine and wellness.

Nurse Coordinators

Valerie Girard, RNValerie Girard, RN obtained her RN in 2005 and worked in the University Health operating room with multiple surgical services including transplant services until 2009. At that time, she began working in liver transplant. Ms. Girard transitioned into hepatobiliary and transplant surgery in January 2010 as nurse coordinator. She has written departmental policies and protocols for hepatobiliary surgery patients and was integral in building the current processes and documentation for the multidisciplinary pancreas and liver tumor boards. Ms. Girard remains an active participant in continuing education for operating room techniques, instruments and equipment. She is a member of International AORN (Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses), TCORN (Texas Council of Operating Registered Nurses), ANA (American Nurses Association), and TNA (Texas Nurses Association).

Lori SaathoffLori Saathoff, BSN obtained her BSN in 1995 and began her career in the medical/cardiac ICU at University Hospital where she continued for four years. She then transitioned to the Transplant /Hepatobiliary surgery program in 1999. Ms. Saathoff was a Liver Transplant and Hepatobiliary Surgery Coordinator for 15 years and was instrumental in developing Living Liver Donor Protocols as the Liver Transplant Program began considering Living Liver Donors as a unique source for Liver Transplants. As the Hepatobiliary surgery program grew in numbers she then started working exclusively as a Hepatobiliary Surgery Nurse Coordinator which she continues in that role to this day. She has also written departmental policies and protocols for Hepatobiliary surgery patients and was integral in building the current processes and documentation for the multidisciplinary liver and pancreas tumor boards. Ms. Saathoff has presented papers at NATCO on hepatocellular carcinoma and hepatitis C patients. She continues to present continuing and introductory education twice yearly at the Transplant Nursing Course and teaches Liver, Pancreas and Liver Transplant as a quest speaker to High School students.

Texas Liver Tumor Center Director

Irma CarranzaIrma V Infante, MSN, RN is the director of the Texas Liver Tumor Center. She received her Bachelors of Nursing in 1995 and her Master of Nursing in 2012 from the University of Texas Health Science Center School of Nursing. Irma has over 20 years of nursing experience including 10 years of management. Her experience includes 5 years as a bedside nurse, 7 years as a liver transplant coordinator, and 9 years with the department of neurosurgery overseeing their clinical operations. Irma is also the director of Advanced Endoscopy Program for University Hospital.

Support Staff

Support Staff

Left to right: Serina Ortiz, Operations Manager; Kimberly Valdez-Soria, Admin Assistant, Priscilla Campos, Admin Assistant