TIRN: Protecting the Future of Transplantation
Daniel R. Salomon, MD – Founder and Co-Chair, TIRN, AST Past-president (2013-2014)
Anil Chandraker, MD, FRCP – Co-Chair, TIRN, AST President-elect
What is TIRN?
TIRN is for anyone doing basic, translational, or clinical research in transplantation or immunology. That includes any research topic that an AST member thinks is worthy of research. Transplantation has always been a wellspring for innovative research. TIRN wants to communicate, celebrate, and support those efforts -- now, and in the future.
A key point in TIRN’s name is the purposeful addition of "and Immunology." Transplantation research is certainly not always about immunology, but immunology is increasingly recognized as a critical factor in many disease states (i.e. cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes).
We want AST researchers of all types to recognize the opportunities to use transplantation as a model for immunology research. This greatly expands the pool of potential partners that can see the relevance of and consider the strategic advantages of supporting this research.
Connecting the dots
TIRN seeks to foster collaborative transplantation research opportunities between scientists, researchers, and industry partners.
Because transplantation truly is a “team sport,” these collaborations remain critical to advancing the science and practice of transplantation. By developing a researcher registry, TIRN has created a place where both researchers and industry partners can search for people involved in research that matches their areas of study or interest.
By enabling these connections, the TIRN researcher registry will allow people who may not have interacted to work together to move the field of transplantation science forward.
Funding the future
TIRN also aims to encourage young members' career development and inspire young scientists with an interest in our field.
This summer, TIRN launched a Pre-Doctoral Scholarship program to support students (including undergraduates) interested in gaining exposure to transplantation or immunology.
Originally, four scholarships were offered; however, the overwhelming amount of applications signaled a need for more support in this area.
Ultimately, through both TIRN funding and the support of the students' mentors, TIRN was able to grant nine scholarships of $2,000 each. This program will continue in future years, so if you currently mentor a pre-doctoral student, keep your eye out for the spring 2016 application opening.
Looking ahead: New funding for transplant research
The AST Grants program has funded innovative research since 1995.
This year, the TIRN committee took over the AST Grants program and funded five grants in clinical, basic, and translational science, as well as nursing.
This is important and satisfying, and it will continue as long as the pharmaceutical industry wants to support it.
However, we have been limited to what our pharma partners decide to grant us in support, and that amount has fallen over 50% in the last five years. This decrease in funding has brought us to the point that our few annual grants' impact on the future of transplantation science is increasingly questionable. We also recognize that the flat NIH budget over the past decade has profoundly limited the ability of all of our scientists to work efficiently and productively.
To address this problem head on, a key goal of TIRN is to dramatically increase the amount of funding available to support basic, clinical, and translational research for all AST investigators.
Therefore, we hope TIRN will help facilitate completely new avenues of research funding. We want to attract our partners in the pharmaceutical industry, new biotechnology companies, our patients and their families, and US businesses – all of the groups that benefit greatly from transplantation.
As TIRN evolves, we want to know: How can TIRN help you and your research? What problems do you need us to solve?
In the meantime, please visit the TIRN researcher registry and add your information. This is a critical investment in the AST research program and in the future success of TIRN. If our members are not represented, if potential partners cannot find the information they need to evaluate possible opportunities to collaborate, then why should anyone support our work?
This resource was made possible in part thanks to generous funding from Sanofi