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Introduction

Florence, a major centre of renaissance art, provided an appropriate setting for this Congress, held in Fehruarv 1998, that tocused on the current 'renaissance' in immunosuppression. Renaissance art contrihuted more to medicine than the recording of morphologic ohservations; it  marked a bending of studious minds to observation of the form and functions of the human organism. Physrcians ahandoned medieval symholism and mystical prejudices and made deductions hased on data gathered from man himself. Florentine Michelangelo Buonarroti, the pre-eminent sculptor, led the way, through his work in dissecting corpses.

He familiarised himself with the hones and the muscles; his David is a masterpiece of anatomy. Leonardo da Vinci's contribution to the understanding of modern medicine was enormous. His Notebooks include 190 pages of observations and 750 anatomical drawings. He deduced the circulation of blood a full century before Wiliram Harvey, revealed the position of the abdominal organs, described the influence of age upon anatomy, and formulated mechanical laws to replace supernatural principles. Against this backdrop the Congress entitled 'New Dimensions in Transplantation' surveyed progress and charted new directions in this complex field of medical science, Although clinical transplantation is a relatively new treatment, it has been hugely successful in transforming the lives of thousands of patrents across the world. The advent of cyclosporin A in the early 1 980s enabled transplantation to offer a consistent and reliable outcome for patients with organ failure. Since then continued progress has extended the benefits of transplantation to many more people, returning them to a normal lifestyle, work arid their families. However, even though we have come far In such a relatively short space of time, there is still much to learn. A number of issues, needs arid challenges face us all in clinical practice today, rocluding:

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" Transplantation has hugely successfull in transforming the lives of thousands of patients "

   • How can our current understanding of immune-suppression enable us   to use it optimally, in order to reduce the incidence of acute rejection,  minimise side-effects and improve the quality of life for patients?

   • How can we tackle chronic rejection?

   • What can we do to maximise the existing donor pool?

This report attempts to address some of these questions by providing highlights from the Con-gress. The full manuscnpts of the presentations discussed in this report will be published in Traiisp/aofation Proceedings in August. Finally, I must thank the sponsors of the congress, Novartis Pharma, for their help in organising the meeting in Florence. Over the past twenty years, the company has worked closely with the transplant community to address the needs of clinicians and patients.

 

Professor Barry Kahan
Houston, Texas, USA