Michael Schilsky, MD, is the medical director of Adult Liver Transplant at Yale-New Haven Transplantation Center. He is an internationally recognized expert in Wilson disease, a rare genetic disorder in which excessive amounts of copper accumulate in the body.
Dr. Schilsky says he was drawn to the study and treatment of Wilson disease because of its complexity, and he is optimistic about the growing promise of new treatments that can help patients with this difficult medical condition. “Wilson disease can be hard to diagnose as it can present with a constellation of symptoms, but once considered we have great tools now to establish the diagnosis and treat this disorder,” he says. “The future is very bright. We hope to have a cure someday, perhaps by genetic therapy. In the meantime, new innovations and medications being tested in clinical trials are truly helping patients.”
An advisor to the Wilson Disease Association, Dr. Schilsky helped write guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of the disorder for both the American Association for the Study of Liver Disease and the European Association for Liver Disease. Here in the Northeast, Yale is the only Center of Excellence designated by the Wilson Disease Association. We are one of a limited number of sites worldwide to participate in a clinical trial for a promising new therapy for Wilson disease, an oral medication known as WTX101.
Left untreated, Wilson disease can cause advanced liver disease or acute liver failure. Dr. Schilsky specializes in managing these challenging cases, including those caused by other metabolic liver diseases. If a liver transplant is required (these are performed at Yale-New Haven Hospital) Dr. Schilsky cares for patients both before and after the surgery. Dr. Schilsky is also a professor of medicine (digestive diseases) and surgery (transplant and immunology) at Yale School of Medicine.