Looking Forward to a Productive Year

On June 1, 2020, I officially became the President of the AST. I am honored to serve the society as President and will do my best to make those who have preceded me proud of my efforts.  I am looking forward to working with our Board of Directors, COP and committee leaders.  On an individual basis they are all highly accomplished and smart, when working collectively they rise to another level.  I want the membership of the society to have confidence that the interests of transplant patients and transplant professionals are well served by this group of remarkable people.

Before I outline my plans for the year, I would be remiss not to express my gratitude to Emily Blumberg for her work as AST President.  Her accomplishments during this past year – including handling a pandemic – have been appreciated by the entire society in ways that mere words are inadequate to express.  We were fortunate to have her as our President.  While the irony of having a renowned infectious disease physician as our president during this time is not lost on anyone, I am sure we can all agree that happenstance favored us in this regard.

I wish I could celebrate her successful presidency in person and intend to in a most hardy fashion when we can finally recognize her efforts in person.   For the time being, thank you so much Emily for your leadership and unwavering commitment to the AST.  On a personal note, thank you for the mentorship you have provided to me, with a particular emphasis on shepherding me into the world of social media.  (Inside joke intended.)

These are challenging times with COVID-19. We have all made adjustments to keep up with the everchanging environment – both in our professional and personal lives. As I begin my presidency, I recognize the importance of adapting to our new normal.  I also recognize that we all play our role in history and that the duty of leadership is to meet the challenges that present.  In this spirit, I have a few goals that I would like to highlight.

Ensure that the society remains in a good position during this stressful time to allow it to continue to deliver on its core mission.

Now more than ever, the transplant community relies on the AST to provide educational, networking, and other services that ultimately help us improve the lives of our patients.

We must remain fiscally responsible during this time of health and economic stress, while still providing our membership and patient community with the resources they need.  Realizing early on that COVID 19 was going to create challenges, the board proactively took measures to ensure regardless of external forces the AST will not forsake its core values.

Use the opportunity created by the change that has forced upon us to experiment with technology to continue to deliver on the society’s core mission in the future.

COVID-19 has forced us to make changes – specifically to our live meetings. If we are honest with ourselves this change whether now or later was coming.  We were fortunate to be able to hold a virtual ATC.  Although the meeting began with some technical issues, with each day of the meeting we adapted and improved upon it.  We are thankful that our community was able to come together for this event and I am personally appreciative of the resourcefulness and good humor demonstrated by our society. 

I will make two promises to you all.  The first is that in adapting to our new normal we will fail more often than we succeed.  The second is that we will always try to do better.

The Fellows meeting this year will also be held in a virtual format.  The planning committee, Carly and JoAnn are already hard at work making a new meeting.  Fortunately, our subject-matter-experts will still deliver high quality and relevant content to our next generation of transplant professionals. More information on Fellows 2020 will be available this summer.  I want you all to encourage your trainees to participate.  Moreover, please try to attend sessions with them and provide us with criticisms on how to make this type of meeting better.

While the pandemic has disrupted our lives in many ways, it has made many of us more comfortable with technology.  I think an underlying truth is that technology will continue to evolve within our field and the Society and we must position ourselves to be ready for these changes.

Continue to provide the society’s members a place to receive intellectual nourishment and find companionship.

We know this is a difficult time, and it is our goal to provide you the intellectual nourishment that you need. Over the last several months, we have been working diligently to provide the best COVID-19 resources so that you have the most up-to-date information.  In addition to delivering and disseminating much needed education and knowledge about COVID 19, it opened up avenues for new relationships and collaborations we never would have envisioned in January.  Where this will ultimately lead is unknown, however what I do know is that an opportunity has presented itself and the board is already thinking of way to build new and enhance existing relationships.

Furthermore, I encourage you to interact and collaborate with others on the COP Hub. The Hub is an outstanding place to ask questions, share ideas, and connect with your colleagues. It is a challenging time, but you are not alone. If you would like to join a COP, click here.

Ensure that the vulnerable members of society, those with organ failure, and those we advocate for are not forgotten.

It is crucial now more than ever to not forget the true purpose of the AST – to improve the lives of our patients. While our professional resources and meetings are ultimately to help our patients, we must also be direct advocates for this community.

One major way that our members can help is by advocating for key issues – including the Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act of 2019 (Immuno Bill) and the Living Donor Protection Act.  Remember that in every crisis there is opportunity and current events have changed the narrative and perhaps have created a heightened receptiveness to our advocacy.   You can contact your Members of Congress directly on our website

We are also continuously updating our educational resources for the transplant patient community. These resources can be found on the Power2Save website.

I look forward to working with our Board, committees, COPs, membership, and other societies this year.  As we enter this new year, I encourage you all to remember that we are all fortunate to be participants in one of the three learned professions.  We exist to serve others and that is ultimately a reward that cannot be quantified.  “He is well paid that is well satisfied.”  Thank you for your continued support of the AST. I look forward to serving you as President and to another successful year.



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