2019-2020 Strategic Priorities

It was an honor to be elected AST President on June 3, 2019. After over 20 years of being an AST member, I am thrilled to have the privilege of leading our Society.

The AST is made up of members from diverse specialties and backgrounds, but we all have the same final goal – to improve the lives of our current and future patients.

As I begin this year as President, I would like to highlight some of my biggest goals for the year.

Expanding the opportunities for our diverse constituencies to realize their potential

As a founding member of the first COP, I am delighted to see the rapid growth of COPs in the AST. It is hard to believe that a decade ago, the AST had just three Communities of Practice (COPs). Today, our 16 COPs are a core of our society, creating new programs and making major contributions to the AST and the transplant community as a whole.  It is impressive to witness the incredible productivity of these groups and the impact they are having on our field.

I am a strong proponent for supporting our COPs as much as we can.  I look forward to working to expand opportunities for these groups so they can reach their fullest potential and make our shared vision a reality.

Fostering the growth of the next generation of transplant professionals

We are just a few short months from the 2019 Fellows Symposium on Transplantation. I am excited to speak at Fellows this September about the Society and the emerging trends in transplantation. This meeting is critical for the AST, as it fosters the growth of young professionals, the future leaders of our field. As the Director of Infectious Disease Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania, I have been dedicated to promoting opportunities and education for trainees and early career professionals.  I especially appreciate the efforts of our members, including senior faculty and seasoned professionals, whose commitment to mentoring this next generation of professionals will ensure continued success and advancements within transplantation.

Increased educational and advocacy opportunities for the patient community

Over the last two years, we have expanded outreach efforts to patients, but it is necessary to increase these efforts to continue the momentum in this area.

Our patients often refer to the internet for resources that answer their pre-transplant, organ-specific, and living donation questions. We are actively working to build our library of educational materials so that the patient community can refer to the AST for that information. This includes expanding our Power2Save transplant resources, adding chapters to the Live Donor Toolkit, and introducing the community edition of the Transplant in 10 video series, a brand new offering from our Education Committee.

The last year was groundbreaking for our advocacy efforts. Last October, for the first time, we brought members of the patient community to Washington, DC to share their compelling stories with key legislators about the Living Donor Protection Act and Immuno Bill.  The response of the congressional members and staffers to this visit was tremendous and our second visit with community representatives in May was equally exciting.

Working together with this community is essential to affect real change on Capitol Hill. I look forward to continuing these efforts this year.

Fighting for issues that matter

In addition to our in-person efforts on Capitol Hill, we plan to implement new advocacy software to make it easier for both the transplant professional and patient communities to contact their legislators about critical issues. We will be providing resources to facilitate these communications in the near future.

It is essential that our legislators understand the issues our field faces. Areas of focus include:

  • Ensuring kidney recipients receive immunosuppression coverage past the 36-month limit under Medicare.
  • Protecting living donors from discrimination and disincentives through the Living Donor Protection Act.
  • Opposing the Dialysis PATIENTS Act, which could block dialysis patients’ access to transplantation.
  • Improving organ donation – both living and deceased.
  • Maintaining NIH funding of research in transplantation.

Engaging members, patient community, and other organizations through enhanced communication

I am committed to engaging our membership in new ways and to fostering communication to increase member involvement. It is essential that members have the opportunity to engage with the Society so that we can advance this important field.

We took our first big step toward patient engagement in 2017 with the AST’s inaugural Transplant Community Summit and continued our efforts by presenting educational programs at the Transplant Games of America last summer.  We are currently considering future initiatives.

In addition, we cannot underestimate the importance of working together with other transplant societies and organizations both in the United States and internationally. I believe that working together will truly help us push our mission forward.

I look forward to working with the AST Board, COP and Committee leaders, patient community, and other societies this year. Please do not hesitate to contact me with your ideas and concerns at blumbere@pennmedicine.upenn.edu or @EmilyBlumbergMD

Finally, I would like to recognize and congratulate the new ASTS President, Lloyd E. Ratner, MD, MPH. I look forward to working with you this year as well.

Thank you for your support of the AST. I look forward to serving you as President.

 

 

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