2018 Board of Directors Election
Voting for the AST Board of Directors opened on Tuesday, April 10, 2018. All eligible voters were sent an email with directions on how to place votes. If you have not received this email, please check your spam folder. To ensure email delivery, add firstname.lastname@example.org to your accepted senders list.
The online voting site will close at 5:00 PM PT on June 4, 2018. Election results will be announced during the AST Town Hall. If you have questions about voting, please review our frequently asked questions.
The AST is also considering a bylaws revision. Read the proposed change here.
Emily Blumberg, MD
The past year has been groundbreaking for AST. Achieving independence from AH, revisiting the society's structure, and reaching out to patients in a meaningful and proactive way have catapulted us into a new era. We are well positioned to meet future challenges and to honor our pre-existing commitments to provide the most up to date and effective education for our members, foster and financially support research opportunities, grow the next generation of transplant professionals, and work with our members and patients to vigorously advocate for the core missions that will move transplantation forward. Our patient outreach initiatives have been an exciting new initiative. We held our first patient summit last October and look forward to working closely with the community of recipients, donors, donor families, and candidates in the future, including at the 2018 Transplant Games in Salt Lake City this summer. To successfully continue to move forward will definitely require the efforts of a village. For me, this means using my ability to work with and between groups to foster collaborations that will enhance our effectiveness. It also means working closely with our members and staff to examine new potential sources of revenue, such as grants and fundraising, that will allow us maintain our health as an organization. I am committed to engaging our members in these exciting initiatives and pledge to foster communication to facilitate greater member involvement. In my time as Treasurer, I have been impressed by the creative and forward-thinking ideas of my colleagues in AST that have encouraged us to envision a future that is even more vibrant than our present. As President-Elect, I would hope to work closely with the leadership, membership, and the professional staff to ensure that our shared vision becomes our reality. Given the many competing professional organizations and numerous professional and financial demands on our members, it will be especially important to continue to provide our unique blend of resources and commitment to our members, fostering their professional growth and supporting their ability to provide the best care for transplant recipients through education, research, and advocacy in order to provide value to their membership. I would like to be part of the leadership of this exciting new AST, helping to further refine our structure without losing sight of our goals, ultimately bringing AST to the point where it is not just a professional organization but THE nationally recognized home for all things transplant.
John Gill, MD
It is an honor to serve as an officer of the AST. Through my involvement with the Society I have acquired knowledge and understanding of the field, received mentorship, personal and professional advice from my peers, and formed enduring friendships. That a Canadian (not from Toronto) can aspire to leadership role in the Society is a testament to the inclusivity and diversity of the AST. The Society represents all organ groups, is multi-disciplinary, and genuinely strives to support all of our members in their efforts to advance the science and delivery of transplant medicine.
Through my experience as a councilor at large and my past leadership roles in Canada I have a firm understanding of the strengths and limitations of professional societies to impart positive change. I am inspired by the wealth of talent, depth of commitment and selflessness of AST members to work collectively to advance our field. By focusing on our core mission, working collaboratively with other organizations and continuing support the efforts of our members, I believe the AST can play an even larger leadership role in meeting the challenges of our profession. As a community we need to advance new strategies for long-standing issues, attract and foster the development of future leaders, and broaden awareness of the needs of our patients.The power of transplant medicine to transform the lives of our patients that attracted us all, also commands the attention of policy makers, funders and the lay public whose engagement is essential. The specialness of what we all do on a daily basis deserves to be promoted and propagated. We are privileged to work in transplantation and we have a responsibility to ensure its future. I will passionately and tirelessly work to advance our field through this once in a lifetime leadership opportunity and hope to repay some of my debt to this amazing Society.
Reza Abdi, MD
I am a transplant nephrologist and immunologist at Harvard Medical School where I currently hold the faculty rank of Associate Professor of Medicine. Following my residency in internal medicine, I completed my renal fellowship at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital combined program in 2001 and since then have been on the clinical staff at Brigham and Women’s Hospital caring for renal transplant patients.
My major research focuses on studying the mechanisms of immune regulation of allo-immune responses with the ultimate goal of devising new immunomodulatory strategies for transplant recipients. My lab is currently funded through the NIH, industry and philanthropic support. Another primary passion is mentoring and educating trainees and junior faculty. I am the recipient of a NIH K24 award to support my mentoring efforts of trainees and junior faculty interested in transplant research.I have served on various AST committees including the ATC basic science planning and AST grant and abstract review committees. My involvement and experience with AST over the past several decades have been both rewarding and fulfilling. AST plays a pivotal role in promoting the field of transplantation from basic research to clinical practice. I am excited and fully prepared to play an active leadership role in AST to promote the society’s mission and enable our membership to address the professional challenges they face. Therefore, it is my distinct honor to be a nominee for a Councilor-at-Large position for the AST Board of Directors. My primary interest in this role is to identify areas for improvement to further advance transplant research. As both a clinician and researcher, I understand the unmet needs in basic science and translational transplantation research. One of my primary interests and priorities is to further support young faculty members. We need to ensure a continued and robust pipeline of talented individuals who will move the field forward. The current challenging funding climate is particularly difficult for junior faculty members. The gap between senior transplant researchers who are funded and more junior colleagues striving to obtain their first funding jeopardizes the future of our field. I believe that close interactions with junior investigators to identify their needs and further support their career development will enhance their ability to obtain stable grant funding whether in clinical, translational or basic science research. Accordingly, we need to develop mentorship plans. Moreover, the transplant research community must actively advocate for these junior researchers as well as address the larger research needs of transplant researchers through interactions with the NIH. If I were elected to the Board, some of the items that I would work on would be to A) increase awareness that transplant research is costly and requires more funding, B) increase our interactions with industry to expand possible funding sources, C) examine the potential need for a separate transplant study section at the NIH, and D) evaluate the long-term impact of various regulations on the interactions between industry and transplant research communities.
Howie Gebel, PhD
In 1978, I was welcomed into the transplant community by a group of inspiring colleagues who were true pioneers. I never dreamed of filling their shoes, but I hoped to follow their footprints. To now be considered as a councilor for the American Society of Transplantation is humbling.
Early in my career, I was fortunate to work on productive clinical and investigative projects that resulted in several publications. Those papers led to invitations to speak at transplant meetings, first regionally, then nationally and eventually, internationally. I learned the value of open and honest communication among my peers, even with those (perhaps especially those) whose ideas and philosophies were polar opposite to my own. Participation at those meetings fostered numerous collaborations and lasting friendships. If elected as an AST councilor, I welcome the challenge to maintain and expand opportunities for communication and personal interaction among AST members in this era of on-line communication and education.At the end of 2014, the already important role that histocompatibility played in the identification of compatible donor:recipient pairs became even more crucial when the new (now current) kidney allocation system was implemented. Patients with very high levels of antibodies (cPRA>98%) began receiving organ offers from deceased donors at rates not previously seen. Were these donors and recipients truly compatible? Locally, the decision of how or whether to proceed increased the frequency and intensity of communication between HLA laboratories, transplant physicians and surgeons, coordinators and OPOs. Three plus years of actual data have now accumulated. In my opinion, the time has come to re-evaluate and perhaps even re-write policies that were written based on simulated and anticipated data. Dialogs on this topic should begin within AST leadership. It would be a privilege to be a voice representing the HLA community in those discussions. I have always been and will continue to be a team player. In a baseball analogy, I am willing and able to play any position or role, including that of coach or manager. I am an effective communicator, and I lead by example. When debating a topic, I often choose the side I don’t agree with as an opportunity to get a firmer understanding of the issues. Through the years, I have learned to listen before speaking (with age comes wisdom…). I believe in compromise to accomplish goals. I would truly be honored to serve the broader transplant community that has been so important to me over the course of my career.
Jonathan Maltzman, MD, PhD
The AST is a vibrant community of individuals interested in promoting all aspects of transplantation. AST membership includes clinicians and researchers, medical physicians and surgeons, pharmacists, advanced practice providers, administrators, trainees and others. As a diverse group of individuals, we come together to advocate for our patients and our science with the goal to move the field of transplantation forward. I believe that to continue this momentum, we need to actively improve communication, education and interaction between the variety of stakeholders in our field.
I am a physician-scientist with a basic immunology lab and a transplant nephrologist. To me, leadership involves defining a set of initiatives and working with everyone through delegation and personal engagement to accomplish them. I have been an AST member since 2001 and have become progressively involved in the society since 2010. I first joined what was the Basic Science Advisory Council and rose to a leadership position as the group transitioned to the community of practice model a few years later. As the inaugural CoBS chair, I learned first-hand how the CoPs give AST members both a home and a voice within the society. We quickly developed a vibrant community that now exceeds 250 members with participation at all levels – the executive committee and importantly regular members as well. We were also able to work with AST leadership in areas of mentorship and research advocacy both inside and outside the society. Yet, while the CoP model gives each of us a home, it is critical that we ensure interactions between the groups. We each have something to learn from the issues and perspectives of the others. There are formal and informal methods to increase interactions between within the society and between the AST and related fields. One approach is active educational involvement by broadening the scope of our own scientific meetings and actively seeking out opportunities to participate in those of others. The CEOT meeting, which I was active in organizing during its first 3 years, is a fantastic example. It is designed to bring various stakeholders together to move a single topic forward in a collaborative effort. The style of the meeting – small and fostering direct interaction – promotes these ideas. We also need to bring our issues and science to a broader audience. I have been involved in planning several “guest symposia” to highlight transplantation science at other professional societies’ meetings.
In addition, we also need to expand our current mentorship of trainees to bring them into and keep them involved in transplantation and the AST. This should involve all aspects of the society – from basic researchers to clinicians to allied health care professionals. Encouraging established leaders to participate in AST mentorship opportunities, funding traditional research fellowships and developing innovative opportunities are just a few approaches that I would pursue as a leader of our society.
If given the opportunity, I look forward to serving you as a Councilor-at-Large.
Lisa Potter, PharmD
As a member and leader within the American Society of Transplantation, I am proud of what this organization stands for, what it has accomplished, and the opportunities that lie ahead. I will share my vision through three pillars outlined on AST’s strategic plan:
The AST has been a tremendous resource to me as a transplant professional. The meetings, curricula, podcasts, and webinars organized by AST continue to be an effective platform through which transplant professionals educate one another, share best practices, and push our profession forward. The debates and listserv exchanges that occur within the Communities of Practice allow for real-time interaction as needs arise. I look forward to maintaining these well-established educational efforts for transplant professionals. Within the domain of education, I propose that AST enhance its patient education by redesigning the current content into a more user-friendly and interactive format. Informed by needs identified at the Transplant Patient Summit, there is an opportunity for AST to launch patient support networks, patient advocacy groups, and enhanced patient educational platforms. I believe that the more AST supports our patients, the more our patients and their networks will in turn support the AST. We have witnessed the power of the AST when it supports issues such as the HOPE Act and preserving immunosuppressants as a protected class under the Medicare Part D benefit. AST’s comment on UNOS/OPTN Policy Proposals, responses to queries from groups like CMS and pharmacy benefit managers, and support of initiatives like the Living Donor Protection Act and Lifelong Coverage for Immunosuppressant Drug Therapy will continue to be critical focus areas. However, there is more work to do. The AST must act in order to assure coverage for off-label immunosuppressants under the Medicare Part D benefit. The AST must act in order for transplant centers to retain the opportunity for Medicare-covered medications to be delivered to patient bedside for use in discharge medication education. As a Councilor-at-Large, I will bring the unique perspective of a pharmacist to the Board and highlight important public policy needs related to drug therapy and drug access.
In the realm of development, I’m pleased to have helped obtain support for AST’s Transition Consensus Conference and the Transplant Pharmacy Community of Practice’s Transplant Patient Adherence Consortium. There is much work to do in the area of adherence. A practical next-step lies in improving the communication and connection between transplant providers, the retail pharmacies providing medications, and the transplant recipients we serve. The pharmacies that specialize in serving transplant patients are an untapped resource yet a key partner to creating durable solutions and improving adherence.
Beyond these three pillars, I would like to strengthen the peer networks within the AST Communities of Practice. The diversity of membership is one of AST’s strengths yet also creates a challenge for AST to serve its many members. I believe that with thoughtful programs, opportunities for involvement, and good communication, AST’s diverse membership can be galvanized, each in their own unique way, in support of AST priorities.
I firmly believe the AST is the best-situated professional organization to lead our field forward. Its strength is its professional diversity, so that while other organizations serve as effective representatives of their specific constituents, only the AST has embraced all the experts who form the multidisciplinary teams necessary to operate successful transplant programs. In addition to this powerful breadth of perspective, AST has nurtured relationships with the government, payors, and regulators which have made it a trusted advocate in policy. As an active participant in the AST’s regulatory advocacy efforts, I have seen first-hand our ability to exert influence on transplant regulation. The society’s recent efforts to find more ways to bring patients into the fold are yet another example of AST’s commitment to diverse voices and I am excited to see that thrive. While continuing to advance science and clinical care remains rightly the most important goal of our field, increasingly response to other challenges will also define our future. These include:
-Demonstrating value as downward pressure on cost is applied by payors, especially high-cost specialties such as ours.
-Government desire to increase regulatory scrutiny of healthcare generally and transplant specifically.
-Growth in social media activism, which creates disproportionate response to rare incidents, and requires our field to be able to nimbly meet emotionally-charged anecdotes with comprehensibly-presented data.
-Pressure from regulators, organized labor, and our own professionals on issues of work-life balance and sleep deprivation in a business in which time is always of the essence.
-Recognition from the public and the professional community that quality of life and survivorship are as important as traditional clinical outcome measures.
My background and skillset uniquely position me to be part of the leadership team that coalesces around this essential effort. Beyond my demonstrated ability to participate in team-based leadership at three major academic transplant centers, my experience has given me specific useful skills to the AST. My background in engineering and IT provides considerable facility with data, systems, and analysis. My experience managing annual budgets exceeding $100 million and staffs of hundreds of professionals can benefit the day-to-day management of AST business. My knowledge of the legal basis for and limitations on regulation have served the community in leveraging laws such as the Paperwork Reduction Act to influence oversight of transplantation. I am excited to work with colleagues from all disciplines who participate in the AST to face these challenges together. I know we can zealously advocate for our patients and professionals, improve outcomes, control cost, and advance science in the coming years. The AST is the right organization to help write the script for the coming decades of transplantation. Involving transplant administrators in the leadership team will further strengthen the organization and situate some very specific skills on the board. I hope that together with the impressive clinician-scientists who have led the AST so well, I can help broaden our vision, expand our arsenal of management and leadership skills, and make us more even effective advocates for our constituents.
Thomas Schiano, MD
It would be a great privilege and very humbling for me to serve as an AST Councilor-at-Large, especially at this very exciting time within the fields of Hepatology and Liver Transplantation. The AST has been an important part of my career since I started attending the Annual Meeting and became a member. Since I am well-acquainted with the administrative, financial and business aspects of leading a large, long-standing and successful liver transplant program, I hope to utilize this experience and expertise to work seamlessly within the operational structure of AST. In working together with trusted colleagues, including basic science researchers, transplant surgeons, pathologists, coordinators, social workers, and other sub-specialists, I have honed my interpersonal skills and learned the importance of partnership and teamwork, as well as to seek the opinion of others. I will try to further increase the visibility of AST amongst these other specialties, which will promote the sharing of research ideas, and broaden and further diversify our membership. Our collaborative efforts will ultimately impact the lives of all of our transplant patients.
As a physician leader, educator and clinician, I have learned the importance of communication and the need to embrace and respect the perspectives of others. Medical education, ethics, improving patient outcomes and the accessibility to transplantation, as well as investing in and integrating the new paradigms of precision medicine and personalized medicine into the field of transplantation are priorities for me. As a principal investigator and participant in clinical trials, I recognize the importance of industry as a valued strategic partner to help AST achieve its goals. As a Councilor-at-Large, l will continue to strive for the highest standards of ethics, integrity and transparency. As an attending hepatologist at Mount Sinai since 1998 and having directed the clinical services since 2003, I have helped to consolidate and expand liver transplant services within the Mount Sinai Health System hospitals. I strive for excellence in patient care, administration, clinical research and education, and would strive for the same as a Councilor-at-Large in helping the AST governing board achieve the missions and vision of our society. Over the last nineteen years while at Mount Sinai, I have interacted with and gained insight from several past AASLD and AST presidents and governing board members with whom I have worked. I am keenly aware of the dedication, commitment, and tireless work that would come with being on the AST governing board. I firmly believe that my attention to detail, commitment to the success of AST, and resolve to improve the lives of transplant patients will all serve me well in the position of Councilor-at-Large.