The Histocompatibility Immunology (HLA) Laboratory at AU Medical Center was established in 1968 as part of the Medical College of Georgia’s organ transplant program.

The first transplant (kidney) performed at MCG was performed on August 28, 1968, by transplant surgeon Arthur Humphries, MD. In those early years, transplantation and compatibility testing for transplantation were purely investigational procedures. The modern day laboratory is in the AUMC division of Clinical Pathology and recently celebrated 50 years of history (1968-2018) and service to the AUMC Renal Transplant Program. Additionally, the laboratory proudly supports the Bone Marrow Transplant Program and hospital clinics.

ACCREDITATION: The laboratory is CLIA certified and maintains accreditation by the state of Georgia (GA DHR); ASHI (American Society for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics); CAP (College of American Pathologists); and UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing).

MISSION: To provide timely and quality laboratory services specialized in histocompatibility and immunology to support the solid organ transplant program, the bone marrow transplant program, and other departments. To strengthen the partnership with the transplant programs by providing expert guidance which contributes to better allocation and utilization of organs, better selection of stem cell donors, and overall improvement of transplant outcomes..

Members of the laboratory serve in leadership roles in national organizations and represent the Department of Pathology Services by serving as clinical histocompatibility laboratory inspectors for both ASHI and CAP.



Technician working with ultrasound

Our Services

The laboratory is directed by Valia Bravo-Egana, PhD, MBA, D(ABHI) and provides state of the art clinical testing services for:

  • Patients awaiting solid organ (kidney, pancreas) transplantation
  • Patients awaiting bone marrow/stem cell transplantation
  • Patients with conditions or diseases associated with specific HLA alleles
  • Patients requiring HLA compatible platelet transfusions
  • Georgia’s Organ Procurement Organization (LifeLink)
  • AU Medical Center hospital clinics




Monday through Friday:
7:30 AM - 5:30 PM

Call us (706) 721-3311


Histocompatibility Director: Valia Bravo-Egana, PhD, MBA, D(ABHI)

Histocompatibility Supervisor/Manager: Catherine Klimek, CHS(ABHI)


Frequently Asked Questions

What does HLA stand for?

Answer:  Human Leukocyte Antigen.

What is HLA Typing?

Answer: HLA antigens are cell membrane glycoproteins that play a key role in the initiation of the immune response. The laboratory utilizes DNA based methods to define HLA alleles or genetic variants and allele groups. Different molecular techniques (SSP / RT-PCR / NGS) are utilized for HLA typing depending upon the clinical application. Histocompatibility for solid organ transplantation generally requires a low to intermediate level typing resolution to determine the individual patient or donor HLA type. Bone Marrow transplantation requires a higher level of resolution when determining the patient and donor HLA type. HLA typing is also utilized to confirm alleles/genetic variants associated with specific diseases and conditions. These tests help clinicians to diagnose the conditions. (i.e. celiac, narcolepsy, ankylosing spondylitis).

Why is HLA important to the field of Medicine?

Answer: The science of histocompatibility and immunogenetics is concerned with genetic polymorphism in healthy subjects and patients and the development, performance and interpretation of laboratory tests for organ transplantation and related medical/biological applications. The field includes the following general areas:

  • Identification of human leukocyte antigens (HLA), their genes and other genetic systems commonly studied in connection with the HLA system
  • Analysis of HLA genotype segregation data in families
  • Production, procurement, and characterization of antibodies, immune cells and probes for proteins and genes of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC)
  • Functional histocompatibility assays measuring lymphocyte activation and cell-mediated cytolysis
  • Application of polymorphisms to questions of parentage, genetic relationship, and disease risk
  • Principles of transplant immunology, self-recognition, and MHC restriction of immune responses
  • Behavior of MHC genes in populations and their significance to anthropology and evolution
  • Regulations and policies governing laboratory testing, human organ transplantation, and organ sharing at the national, regional and local levels

Related Partner Links

United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) National Kidney Registry (NKR) American Society for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics (ASHI) American Foundation for Donation and Transplantation (AFDT)