Wrapping Up My Year as President

It is hard to believe that my term as President will soon be coming to an end. With the challenges from COVID-19, it certainly wasn’t the year that I was expecting. Nevertheless, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to serve as President and proud of all we accomplished this year.

In March 2020, it became apparent that I needed to reorient my goals to reflect the threat of the pandemic to the Society. Together with the AST Board of Directors, we worked strategically to remain fiscally responsible while still providing members like you with the benefits and services you need.

I am proud to announce that there was no reduction in AST programs or staff during COVID-19.

Despite the uncertainty during the early days of the pandemic, the AST came out strong. The past year has provided a lot of reasons for pride and gratitude to our membership and partners.

Here are a few highlights from the past year:

AST Membership

  • AST membership remained strong, and almost 600 new members joined in 2020.
  • To recognize our Non-Medical Doctoral members, we created a new membership category. This category offers reduced dues to transplant professionals who are pharmacists, advanced practice providers, clinical psychologists, PhD scientists, and others who have a doctoral degree without a medical degree.
  • The AST expanded the AST Achievement Award categories to offer additional opportunities to those who work exclusively in clinical or administrative roles. These awards will complement AST’s extensive research-focused award offerings and allow us  to recognize members in diverse roles within our field.
  • In 2020, 63% of AST members belonged to one or more Community of Practice (COP).

Meetings and Online Education

  • We held our first meetings in the virtual world, beginning with ATC 2020. 
  • Over 200,000 people have accessed the COVID-19 resource center, established by the AST at the beginning of the pandemic.
  • Despite the pandemic, AST members engaged with more educational content in 2020. The average number of live attendees at educational events increased by 18%.

Advocacy

  • In December 2020, the Comprehensive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act (Immuno Bill) passed after 20 years of advocating. The policy is expected to go into effect in 2023.
  • The Living Donor Protection Act was introduced in early 2021. We will issue a call to action for the transplant community to help push this legislation forward.

Research

  • In 2020, we awarded $625,000 in research grants. We are projecting to award $1.1 million in 2021.
  • Directed research grants totaled $250,000 in 2020 and are expected to increase to $500,000 in 2021.
  • We launched a new mid-career transition grant to support researchers trying to bridge the gap between K-grant type funding to larger NIH grants.

Organ Donation

  • In the Fall of 2020, we launched the AST’s Living Donor Circle of Excellence, a recognition program for companies that provide lost wages to living donors.

I wish I could celebrate the conclusion of this rewarding year with you in person.  Thank you to the AST Board, COP and committee leaders, and all my other colleagues for your tremendous support this year. While my presidency will end on June 7, the Society will be in great hands with your new President, John Gill.

I look forward to continued involvement with the AST and working with future leaders as the Society continues to evolve.

Comments

Thank you Rich for your leadership and guidance over the past year. Our Society is stronger than ever thanks to our leaders and our active membership.

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