Vinay Sundaram, MD, MSc, FACP, FAASLD, was a transplant hepatologist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and a leading researcher in the field of acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF). He passed away on July 14, 2022, at the age of 44, after a long battle with his illness. His death was a huge loss for the medical community, his family, and his friends. In this article, we will look at the life and achievements of Vinay Sundaram, and the impact he had on the field of hepatology and beyond.
A Passionate Physician and Scientist
Vinay Sundaram was born on May 21, 1978, in Paterson, New Jersey, to two physicians, Drs. Savitri and Subramoni Sundaram. He grew up in Randolph, New Jersey, as the eldest of three siblings. He attended New York University, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics. He then pursued his medical degree at the NYU School of Medicine, graduating in 2004.
He completed his internal medicine residency at the University of Virginia Medical Center, followed by his gastroenterology fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, where he also obtained a Master of Science in Clinical Research. He then did his transplant hepatology fellowship at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (Harvard Medical School), where he worked as a clinical instructor for a year.
In 2013, he joined the faculty of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center as an associate professor of medicine and clinical medicine at UCLA School of Medicine. He was also the director of hepatology outcomes research and the co-director of the Cedars-Sinai Multi-Organ Transplant Program.
Vinay Sundaram was a dedicated and compassionate physician, who cared deeply for his patients with liver disease. He was known for his excellent clinical skills, his advocacy for his patients, and his personal touch. He often called his patients with lab results, even if they were normal, and went the extra mile to arrange evaluations and referrals for them. He was also an organ donor, saving more lives with his final act.
Vinay Sundaram was also a prolific and influential scientist, who made significant contributions to the field of ACLF, a syndrome characterized by rapid deterioration of liver function and multiple organ failure in patients with chronic liver disease. He published over 140 papers in high-impact journals, such as Hepatology, Journal of Hepatology, Gastroenterology, American Journal of Gastroenterology, and American Journal of Transplantation. He also served on the editorial boards of several journals, and was a guest editor of Clinical Liver Diseases.
His research focused on the role and challenges of liver transplantation in ACLF, as well as the epidemiology, natural history, prognostic factors, and management of this condition. He showed that patients with high-grade ACLF had very high mortality rates despite relatively low MELD scores, and that improvement of ACLF grade enhanced post-transplant survival. He also identified multiple risk factors for poor outcomes among patients with ACLF, and provided guidance on patient selection and