An Unforgettable Year

It is hard to imagine that my term as President will soon be ending. The past year has been one of productivity and excitement for me. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve as your President, and it has been a privilege to work with the AST Board, committees, and members.

The past year has provided a lot of reasons for pride and gratitude to our members and partners. While it is bittersweet to reflect on how quickly this year has passed, today, I focus on some of our biggest moments.

AST Membership

AST (formerly American Society of Transplant Physicians (ASTP)) was founded in 1982 when charter members met at an ASN meeting and decided that a society dedicated to transplant professionals was needed. That first year, the Society had 295 members, and dues were just $30. In 2007, the AST had over 2,600 members, and 106 of those members were original members.

In 2021, 535 new members joined the AST, bringing our total membership to over 4,100. It is incredible to see our community continue to grow and collaborate.

As the Society continued to grow over the years, so did the number of Communities of Practice (COPs). In May 2022, the Society introduced its 17th COP – the Donation and Transplantation Optimization Community of Practice (DTO COP). This COP represents organ donation and transplant professionals collaborating to innovate systemwide performance improvement.

Two-thirds of members are part of one or more COP. Over the past year, COPs have hosted several webinars, awarded 40 ATC grants and over $10,000 in research grants, and worked on many initiatives, projects, webinars, and meetings.

Meetings and Education

We continued to hold many of our meetings virtually, with the exception of the Future of Transplantation and the International Transplantation Science (ITS) meetings.

The AST held its annual Fellows Symposium. With the virtual format, we hosted 343 fellows at the meeting. 

The inaugural Future of Transplantation was held in November 2021 in Boston. This meeting aimed to address unmet needs in transplantation, gaps in knowledge, and opportunities for new therapies to be developed. The meeting had a total of 49 attendees representing 26 companies.

The 2022 Cutting Edge of Transplantation was held in April 2022 and focused on defining success in transplantation. Over 600 people registered for this meeting.

The International Transplantation Science (ITS) meeting was held in Berlin, Germany in May. I had the opportunity to attend this meeting, and it was wonderful to see colleagues in person again.

ATC 2022 is approaching quickly, and I am thrilled to see you again in person. Don’t forget to stop by the AST Booth and attend the AST events at the meeting.

The AST had a busy year producing online education, too. AST Committees held 27 webinars in 2021, including the Timely Topics in Transplantation (T3) series, AST/AJT Journal Club series, COP-run webinars, and more.

Advocacy

The AST was hard at work on the advocacy front. Earlier this year, we launched another grassroots effort to encourage Congressional co-sponsorship for the Living Donor Protection Act to pass in this Congress. While we could not have a physical presence in Washington, DC, the AST did several virtual visits with Congressional offices.

Furthermore, during my presidency, the AST summited 29 Public Comment Proposals and a CMS RFI on Health and Safety Requirements for Transplant Programs, OPOs, and ESRD facilities.

I am excited about an upcoming patient survey slated for 2023. The New Patient Survey Work Group, chaired by Dr. David Taber, is currently working to develop a patient survey focused on addressing the unmet immunosuppressant needs of organ transplant recipients. More information about this survey will be communicated to AST members soon.

Research

This year, the AST awarded $725,000 in research grants, with the Society committing to at least $300,000 in grants each year.

The Society launched a new career transition grant for mid-career investigators building toward an R-level grant. Additionally, a new Joint AST-ASTS Research Advocacy Task Force was established to develop a blueprint for both societies to advocate for more significant governmental funding for transplantation research.

Organ Donation

I am proud to report that the Living Donor Circle of Excellence now has 78 member companies covering 1.8 million employees. Earlier this year, we announced a strategic partnership with National Kidney Foundation. Together with our strategic partners NKF and the Canadian Society of Transplantation, I look forward to growing this program and making paid leave for living donation more accessible.

Service to the Community

In 2021, the AST continued working on the Service to the Community pillar. For the first time, the Transplant Community Advisory Council (TCAC) is now patient-led and chaired by a transplant recipient. The patient voice also now plays a role in our meetings - including Fellows and CEoT.

Together, we made this year a huge success despite the limitations of the pandemic. Thank you for everything you do for the Society. 

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