Happy New Year!
2022 was an eventful year for the AST. We were all excited to be reunited in person at ATC 2022 and reconnect as a community. Reflecting on the last 12 months, I am grateful for everything we’ve accomplished. Despite a challenging couple of years, our members have continued to support our field and our patients. I am also thankful to our industry partners who supported us in all our virtual and in-person efforts.
Thanks to our incredible membership, we have accomplished a lot in 2022. It would not be possible for the AST to achieve its goals without the volunteers who work with COPs, committees, task forces, and much more! I sincerely appreciate your dedication to the AST and transplantation.
In 2022, we welcomed our 17th Community of Practice – the Donation and Transplantation Optimization COP (DTO COP). Ten years ago, there were just ten COPs, and we are thrilled to continue expanding to create an inclusive professional home for everyone.
Additionally, the AST Board of Directors diligently worked on a multi-year strategic plan for the Society in 2022, and I am excited to complete and implement the plan early in 2023. Our five strategic aims are: (i) continuous innovation; (ii) engaging members; (iii) serving our patients and the broader society; (iv) developing the workforce; and (v) ensuring a future-enabled AST. Stay tuned for further details on these strategic aims.
The United States reached its one-millionth transplant in September 2022 - an incredible achievement for our community.
Growth and progress continued in 2022 at the AST. Below is an overview of some of the 2022 highlights in each of our pillars.
Since ATC 2022 in June, the AST has awarded 14 grants totaling $1.1 million in research funding. These grants include:
- Seven fellowship and faculty development grants, generously supported by our partners
- Three directed grants
- Four Career Transition grants
The AST Research Network also raised the grant support level from $50,000 to $75,000 for our fellowship and faculty development grants, starting in 2023.
Education and Meetings
We hosted a successful virtual Cutting Edge of Transplantation (CEoT) meeting, which focused on defining success in transplantation.
In June 2022, we held our first in-person ATC since 2019. We welcomed over 4,000 attendees to the meeting as we reunited in Boston.
We also held our first in-person Fellows Symposium since the pandemic and welcomed over 180 fellows to the meeting.
In November 2022, we had our second Future of Transplantation meeting. This is a meeting geared towards companies making a business case for transplant innovation and engages stakeholders to push the field forward. This year’s meeting focus was on xenotransplantation.
In 2022, AST offered educational webinars on high-profile topics in transplantation, including sessions on The Immuno Bill is a Reality! Guidance for the new “Medicare Part B-ID” and Xenotransplantation: Pig to Human Heart Transplant.
AST also presented two webinars on Transitioning from Fellowship to Faculty – Tips and Tricks from the Experts to assist fellows and early-career members with navigating the job hunting process: from the initial job search to interviewing to contract negotiation.
Additionally, with the help of the Transplant Administration and Quality Management Community of Practice (TxAQM COP), we launched the Transplant Administration Foundations Course. This course is a comprehensive education program available on demand for transplant leaders or anyone involved in transplant administration. Learn more about this brand-new resource here.
In 2022, various in-person international meetings allowed us an opportunity to meet with leaders of The Transplantation Society, Canadian Society of Transplantation, and European Society of Transplantation. This outreach allowed for productive discussions of future educational collaborations amongst our societies.
Patient Advocacy & Public Policy Key Activities
AST enjoyed a very active and robust 2022 in the regulatory and legislative arenas.
Position statements reflect the AST’s overall stance on transplant-related topics, some of which are controversial but have the potential to be highly impactful to our patients. Over the summer, we developed a patient-focused statement on the Supreme Court’s overturning of the Roe v. Wade legislation. The full statement can be found here. We also came out with an ethically-balanced position on the practice of normothermic regional perfusion. This is a new advance in donor management that has the potential to improve organ utilization.
The Society worked very closely with both Congress and the Administration in 2022 to advance the field of solid organ transplantation, with a continued focus on removing financial and policy disincentives that may prevent an individual from receiving a lifesaving donor organ.
From a regulatory standpoint, AST interfaced on a regular basis throughout the year with the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).The Society provided the government with input and expertise on a variety of proposed rules and regulations impacting the field of transplantation.
In addition to regulatory activities, AST also worked diligently throughout the 117th Congress to advance the Living Donor Protection Act (LDPA). These efforts included extensive grassroots, direct lobbying, as well as Capitol Hill Fly-In’s with Society leadership and transplant patients to drive Congressional support and cosponsors.
AST, our patients, and the collective transplant stakeholder community efforts resulted in 160 cosponsors in the House of Representatives as well as 43 in the Senate.
Despite considerable advocacy efforts by the transplant community, the LDPA did not make it across the finish line during the 117th Congress. That said, AST and our transplant stakeholder partners are already coordinating and working closely with Congressional leaders to reintroduce the legislation early in 2023 and in the 118th Congress.
AST remains fully committed to supporting the re-introduction, passage, and enactment of the LDPA for living donors, recipients, and families in this new 118th Congress.
The AST’s Living Donor Circle of Excellence continued to grow in 2022! The program now has 98 member companies, covering 2 million employees. Learn more about the Circle of Excellence here.
Service to the Community
We worked hard to incorporate our patient community’s voice in our efforts. We included patient sessions at CEoT and ATC and now have a transplant recipient on the CEoT Planning Committee.
We also attended the Transplant Games of America, where we held four patient-focused workshops, including healthy living with a transplant, advocacy, and research.
Equity and Inclusion
The AST’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access to Life (IDEAL) Committee hosted two great fireside chats featuring Clive Callender and Velma Scantlebury in 2022.
The AST is committed to providing DEI resources for our membership. Looking ahead, our IDEAL committee will work on a DEI toolkit and additional webinars in 2023.