About AST

A New Year for the AST

In his first blog as president, Dr. James Allan thanks the outgoing AST leaders and welcomes the new leadership as he highlights AST initiatives for the year ahead. During his presidency, he will continue the tradition of both blogging actively and inviting expert guest contributors to address issues and topics of immediate relevance.

A New Year for the AST

James S. Allan, MD, MBA, FAST

It is truly a privilege to serve as president of the largest and most widely representative transplantation organization in North America. I am fortunate to be able to lead a society that is, in every respect, relevant and strong. As your president, I will do everything I can to be responsive to each member. This is your society, and it is my obligation to see that it meets your needs.

Our society's mission is to "advance the field of transplantation and improve patient care by promoting research, education, advocacy, and organ donation." To this end, we have a number of exciting ongoing initiatives in these four major areas of focus.

Research

The AST will remain focused on developing our Transplantation and Immunology Research Network (TIRN). Our ultimate goal is to raise funds to support research and to use TIRN as a vehicle to enhance collaboration and innovation. We recognize that this goal is ambitious, and I will be shepherding an effort to transition our professional society into an organization that is more engaged with the public and with our patients to enhance dialogue and increase philanthropic support.

Education

The AST will continue to work with the ASTS to ensure that the American Transplant Congress (ATC) remains the premier North American meeting for transplant clinicians and scientists. Likewise, our joint societies will ensure that the American Journal of Transplantation (AJT) remains the most impactful journal in the field. The annual AST Fellows Symposium on Transplantation will be held again this September in Grapevine, TX. Last year, over 170 fellows joined us for this highly interactive program, and we look forward to meeting this year's fellows in a few months. Also, the AST will continue our signature online webinar series, Timely Topics in Transplantation (T3). The series grows in popularity each year, and in 2015-2016, we will continue our tradition of bringing hot topics in transplantation to the forefront. Finally, we are anticipating an excellent Cutting Edge of Transplantation (CEOT) meeting next February, entitled “Resolving the Organ Shortage: Practice, Policy, Politics” at the Arizona Biltmore. This meeting will appeal broadly to the entire AST membership, and will be an excellent opportunity for networking and family fun.

Advocacy

Advocacy efforts will continue in Washington, DC, focusing on congressional action and regulatory reform. We will continue to press for sensible insurance coverage for the lifetime of our patients. We will also work to increase research funding, decrease regulatory burdens, and bring new therapeutics to our patients. We anticipate that greater engagement with the patient community will provide strong grassroots support for our patient-centered advocacy agenda.

Organ Donation

The AST, in partnership with the ASTS, will continue to explore new avenues for removing the financial disincentives that currently limit living donation. We will also lead a discussion centered on the potential impact (both good and bad, intended and unintended) of providing incentives to donors in a regulated fashion. This is a controversial area that some support, some oppose, and most don't fully understand. However, the organ shortage is real and persistent, and is currently the principal limitation to the success of our field. Thus, it is our society's obligation to explore these options and to keep our minds open to anything that could help our patients. For those interested in learning more and participating in this debate, don't miss the 2016 CEOT meeting in Arizona -- it should be exceptional.

I would like to express my congratulations to the new ASTS president, Dr. Charles Miller. I look forward to working with him and his new team. The AST's relationship with the ASTS continues to be strong and productive, and I hope to find new areas of collaboration going forward.

I would also like to congratulate those members of our society inducted as Fellows of the American Society of Transplantation (FAST). It was truly special to be able to recognize so many outstanding leaders in our field.

Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to the AST's outgoing leaders and welcome our new leadership. Since joining the board four years ago, I have been thoroughly impressed by the selfless commitment that everyone has shown to making the AST a better organization for all of us. Leadership is about service, not about self-aggrandizement, and our society’s leaders understand that.

First, I would like to thank Kenneth Newell for an outstanding year as president. His service to the AST over the past year has been immeasurable. I would also like to thank our outgoing past-president, Daniel Salomon, not only for his commitment to the AST but also for his guidance, mentorship, and friendship.

A big thanks also goes out to our outgoing board members: Rita Alloway, Michael Ison, and Dianne McKay. We have all benefitted from their collective effort and wisdom.

The following outgoing committee chairpersons are commended for their contributions:
Dianne LaPointe Rudow, Audit Committee
Emily Blumberg, Conflict of Interest Committee
Vineeta Kumar, Education Committee
Daniel Salomon, Governance Committee
Xian Li, Grants Committee
Alexander Wiseman, Grants Committee
Simon Horslen, Pediatric COP
Eric Tichy, Transplant Pharmacy COP
Amishi Desai, Trainee & Young Faculty COP
Gerald Brandacher, VCA Advisory Council
Michelle Josephson, Women’s Health COP

I offer my personal congratulations to Anil Chandraker, our new president-elect, and to Ronald Gill, our new secretary. Likewise, I want to extend a warm welcome to our newest councilors-at-large: John Gill, Deepali Kumar, Jesse Schold, and Alexander Wiseman. We are fortunate to have such talented individuals leading our society.

I also look forward to working with the following incoming committee chairpersons:
Robert Gaston, Audit Committee
James Spivey, Conflict of Interest Committee
Nicole Turgeon, Education Committee
Michelle Josephson, Financial Advisory Committee
Kenneth Newell, Governance Committee
Jens Goebel, Pediatric COP
Lisa Potter, Transplant Pharmacy COP
Jamil Azzi, Trainee & Young Faculty COP
David Mathes, VCA Advisory Council
Deborah Adey, Women's Health COP

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not comment on the spectacular job Dr. Robert Fairchild and Dr. Dorry Segev did leading this year's ATC in Philadelphia. I have already received many positive comments about the program, and I am grateful to those who presented and otherwise contributed to this fantastic meeting. Next year's ATC in Boston is in the capable hands of Dr. Peter Heeger and Dr. Randall Sung, and I look forward to another great conference. For more photos from ATC 2015, visit the AST Facebook page.

Thank you all for your indulgence on this particularly long blog. I promise that our future blogs will be more succinct.

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