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Professor of Surgery
Division Chief of Abdominal Transplant Surgery
Executive Medical Director for UNC Healthcare Center for Transplant Care
Surgical Director, Liver Transplant Program
Director, Chronic Pancreatitis & Autologous-Islet Cell Transplant Program


  • Fellowship: Georgetown University Hospital
  • Surgical Resident: Seth G.S. Medical College
  • Master of Surgery: University of Mumbai, India

Chirag Desai, MD is an abdominal organ transplant and hepatobiliary-pancreatic surgeon with more than 15 years of experience. His special interests include liver transplantation, intestinal and multivisceral transplantation, and liver and pancreatobiliary disorders. Dr. Desai is one of a few surgeons in the U.S. who specializes in the field of chronic pancreatitis and autologous islet cell transplantation.

He was trained in General Surgery in India at the King Edward Memorial Hospital in Mumbai, the largest tertiary care center in the city and one of the largest in India. He was an attending surgeon at the same institute between 2003 and 2006. Dr. Desai moved to the United States in 2006 and worked as a visiting physician in the Transplantation Institute at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Between 2007 and 2010, he did his abdominal organ transplant surgery fellowship at the Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, DC. Upon graduation he was certified by the American Society of Transplant Surgeons in liver, kidney, and intestinal transplantation.

Dr. Desai has been an active member of surgical teams at various institutions including serving as an Assistant Professor of Surgery at the University of Arizona, where he was actively involved in starting a new intestinal transplant program. He returned to Georgetown University Hospital and its Transplant Institute, where he was the founding director of an autologous islet cell transplant program and was promoted to Associate Professor of Surgery. He moved to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2016 as Surgical Director of liver transplantation, initiating a new Chronic Pancreatitis and autologous islet cell transplant program which he currently directs. The program emphasis is on recurrent and chronic pancreatitis as well as islet cell autotransplantation, along with other complex pancreatic disorders including cystic diseases and IPMN.

In addition to extensive surgical experience in India, Dr. Desai has participated in more than a thousand complex transplantation, liver, and pancreatic surgical procedures since his arrival in the United States. He has performed liver transplantation in adult and pediatric patients including spilt liver transplantation. He has performed numerous complex liver and pancreatic resections. While serving as an active surgeon, Dr. Desai has also been actively involved in research. He has published several manuscripts in the field, most notably a novel technique of surgery for total pancreatectomy for islet auto transplant (Journal of the American College of Surgeons, 2011), an invited commentary in JAMA Surgery (2016), and his recent work on the liver as a host for the islet cells (Islets 2017) based on a grant received form the National Pancreatic Foundation in 2015. He is also published in the field of liver and intestinal transplantation in international journals such as the American Journal of TransplantationTransplantation, and Pediatric Transplantation.


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  • Phone Numbers

    (919) 966-8008 (Office Phone)

  • (919) 966-6308 (Fax)

  • Address

    Division of Abdominal Transplantation

    4023 Burnett-Womack Building

    Campus Box 7211

    Chapel Hill, NC 27599