The AST honors contributions to the field of transplantation and to the society through our Achievement Awards.
Awardees were recognized on Sunday, June 5th during the 2022 American Transplant Congress.
Advancing Equity in Organ Transplantation Award
Lawrence Y.C. Agodoa, MD
National Institutes of Health
The Advancing Equity in Organ Transplantation Award was established in 2021 to recognize individuals whose work has made a significant impact on increasing equity and reducing racial disparities in transplantation. The second annual Advancing Equity in Organ Transplantation Award was awarded in 2022 to Dr. Lawrence Agodoa, Director of the Office of Minority Health Research Coordination at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health.
Dr. Agodoa has had a long and distinguished academic career as an NIH scientist focused on reducing racial disparities in end-stage renal disease. He has published more than 300 peer-reviewed scientific papers that have been cited over fifty thousand times. Several of his papers describing racial inequities in kidney disease, dialysis access and outcomes, and kidney transplantation are required reading for trainees and faculty alike who want to understand disparities in the field. He is most well-known for being the program scientist and coordinator of the African American Study of Kidney Disease and Hypertension Cohort, a clinical trial of more than one thousand African Americans with kidney disease and high blood pressure which identified, for the first time, a specific treatment (ACE inhibitor) that slowed kidney disease caused by high blood pressure. This landmark study forever changed the medical management of such patients and their eventual trajectory to kidney transplantation.
For many years, Dr. Agodoa has served as the Director of the NIDDK’s Office of Minority Health Research Coordination, which was established to address diseases that disproportionately impact the health of minority populations. In this role, he oversees the Native American Research Centers for Health, the Research Enhancement Awards, and the Minority Biomedical Research Support Program. He is also responsible for fostering the recruitment and training of minority biomedical investigators. Finally, he serves as a member on the NIH Health Disparities Strategic Plan Working Group, Chair of the HHS Healthy People Initiative CKD Workgroup, and the Nephrology Chair on the National Medical Association’s Internal Medicine Steering Committee.
More specific to transplantation, nearly 30 years ago Dr. Agodoa designed and lobbied the NIDDK and NMHHD directors for the creation of a federal grants program to fund studies to evaluate strategies that might reduce disparities in organ donation and transplantation. With this pioneering idea, he was single-handedly responsible for the development and implementation of what became known as the Minority Organ Tissue Donation Program, which he continues to oversee to this day. Its aims are to increase organ donation among members of racial and ethnic minority communities and to reduce disparities in transplantation access. The program has contributed substantially to the development of academic careers and to the scientific mentorship of faculty in the field of transplantation, including three members of the AST’s IDEAL Task Force. Five R01 grants are funded each program cycle to study disparity-reducing strategies in organ donation and transplantation that are now used by transplant programs and OPOs today. He is singularly responsible for ensuring that this type of research has sufficient funding set aside within the NIDDK coffers, thus allowing the field – and new scientific discoveries – to move forward.
Dr. Agodoa’s commitment to eradicating disparities in ESRD and kidney transplantation is unparalleled.
Senior Achievement Award in Clinical Transplantation
Roslyn Bernstein Mannon, MD
University of Nebraska Medical Center
The Senior Achievement Award in Clinical Transplantation recognizes outstanding contributions to clinical transplantation. In 2022, the award was presented to Dr. Roslyn Mannon. She is Professor of Medicine, Pathology and Microbiology, Associate Chief of Research in the Division of Nephrology, and the Vice Chair of Academic Development and Research Mentoring at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
Over the course of her career, Dr. Mannon has not only been instrumental in improving the clinical care of transplant patients, but she has also been a leading voice in shaping the advancement and integration of many diverse activities in the field of transplantation. She has held a number of key leadership positions both nationally and in her own institutions. These roles have had a demonstrable impact on the field, influencing national transplant policy, increasing the breadth and effectiveness of public-private partnerships, generating new knowledge in basic science related to alloimmunity and graft dysfunction, and integrating translational and clinical research into improving patient outcomes.
Dr. Mannon has had an outstanding academic career as a clinician-scientist with continuous research funding from NIH and other national agencies. Her work has been widely published in clinical and research forums, and she enjoys global recognition for her contributions. She is a generous and highly sought-after mentor, with an extensive history of teaching and mentoring learners at all levels, many of whom have become leaders in the field.
Dr. Mannon joined the American Society of Transplantation in 1995 and served the AST in many leadership roles over the years, culminating in her AST Presidency in 2012-13 and ongoing today. She was a highly engaged AST President, having previously held positions on committees throughout the organization. One example of her many accomplishments as AST President was working with the US Food and Drug Administration to create a novel public-private partnership on transplant therapeutics. This work initiated a long-term project that eventually led to creation of the Transplant Therapeutics Consortium with the Critical Path Institute. As AST President, Dr. Mannon also embraced the opportunity to begin to address issues of disparity and equity for female transplant professionals, work that she continues in her current role as Chair of the Women in Transplantation initiative of TTS.
Dr. Mannon’s diverse contributions have advanced and shaped the field of transplantation, enhanced the international stature of the AST as a professional society, and continue to impact scientific endeavor, clinical care, and advocacy.
Robert Barnes Colvin, MD
Harvard Medical School
The Mentoring Award highlights AST members who have made outstanding contributions to the education of future leaders in transplantation and was awarded to Dr. Robert Colvin in 2022. Dr. Colvin is the Benjamin Castleman Distinguished Professor of Pathology at Harvard Medical School and a Pathologist and Director, Immunopathology Research Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital.
His primary clinical interest is renal pathology, particularly the immunological aspects of renal disease and transplantation. He has contributed seminal work in the field of antibody mediated rejection and approaches to tolerance induction. Dr. Colvin has held NIH grants continuously since 1976 and is the author of over 500 publications. Dr. Colvin is clearly committed to the understanding of the mechanistic underpinnings of disease; and his studies on transplantation using animal models have been crucial to our understanding of many basic mechanisms, notably employing innovative tolerance, xenotransplantation, and AMR models.
Dr. Colvin’s long list of trainees includes professors and department chairs, pathologists, nephrologists, surgeons, basic scientists, and industry researchers. Many of his fellows came from outside the United States and returned to their home countries to establish research or clinical programs in transplantation or renal pathology. Former Colvin fellows can be found on four continents and Oceania. Within the United States, his trainees have joined elite academic institutions such as Harvard, Stanford, the Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, Emory, the University of Michigan, and UNC.
In their letters of support for this award, several mentees of Dr. Colvin spoke to his deep knowledge about immunology, clear and insightful communication, keen eye for detail, abundance of patience, warm and welcoming nature, and the long-standing relationships that continue to be nurtured well after formal fellowships have concluded. All acknowledged Dr. Colvin’s profound impact on their careers.
Dr. Colvin is one of the pre-eminent renal and transplantation pathologists of his generation, and his contributions through his research and mentoring relationships will continue to shape the future of transplantation for many years to come.
Physician of Distinction Award
Camille Nelson Kotton, MD
Harvard Medical School
The 2022 Physician of Distinction Award went to Dr. Camille Kotton, the Clinical Director of Transplant and Immunocompromised Host Infectious Diseases in the Infectious Diseases Division at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School.
Dr. Kotton has developed innovative models of clinical care that transformed the lives of transplant patients and have been widely adopted at transplant centers worldwide. She established pre-transplant ID evaluation clinics and made them part of standard of care, improving the safety of transplantation by pre-empting complications that can arise from undetected latent infections. Her Travel after Transplant clinics have allowed transplant patients to live full lives and travel the world safely.
Dr. Kotton has developed treatment protocols and practice guidelines that influence the care of transplant patients and donors. She served as senior editor for the AST ID COP Guidelines on Management of Infection Disease after Solid Organ Transplant, published in Clinical Transplantation. Since 2008, she has organized and chaired three international consensus conferences on CMV treatment in transplant recipients and compiled the widely cited consensus guidelines on this important topic. Dr. Kotton also organized the development of international consensus guidelines for vascularized composite tissue allografts, and was the senior author for international consensus guidelines for the management of tuberculosis in organ donors, which was published in AJT. She has written extensively on infections in SOT, including topics such as travel vaccines, zoonotic infections, and more recently, COVID-19 in transplant recipients.
Dr. Kotton has been a dedicated leader within AST and in the field of transplantation throughout her career. She served in AST ID COP leadership from 2012 to 2018, and oversaw its growth to the largest COP in the AST. She has served on the ATC Planning Committee and on the ATC Abstract Selection Committee. Dr. Kotton has also served TTS in several capacities, served on the DTAC Committee, and during the COVID-19 pandemic she has served as a voting member of the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
Dr. Kotton is a true international leader in the field of transplant ID.
Transplant Advocacy Award
Sara Miller, Founder and Board President
SODA: Student Organ Donation Advocates
The Transplant Community Advisory Committee is the first patient led committee within AST, comprised of transplant recipients, living donors, and caregivers who aim to use their collective voice to advocate for patients and the transplant community via education, innovation, and advocacy. They selected Ms. Sara Miller as the 2022 AST Transplant Advocacy Award recipient.
At just 12 years old, Sara experienced the devastating loss of her sister, Laura, who went on to donate the gift of life through organ donation. Sara became inspired to share the importance of organ donation with other students. In college, she founded SODA: Student Organ Donation Advocates, a which supports student-led organ and tissue donation education and registration efforts. Sara grew SODA into a national nonprofit which now has two full-time employees. Thanks to their hard work and passion, SODA chapters exist on 43 high school and college campuses and have educated more than 50,000 students.
Thank you for the important work that you do, Sara!
Basic Science Established Investigator Award
Olivia M. Martinez, PhD
Stanford University School of Medicine
The 2022 Basic Science Established Investigator Award was awarded to Dr. Olivia Martinez from Stanford University.
Dr. Martinez is a Professor in the Division of Transplantation, the Director of Stanford Immunology, and the Director of the PhD Program in Immunology at Stanford University. She has distinguished herself as an outstanding researcher in the investigation of EBV infections leading to post-transplantation lymphomas. Dr. Martinez has also emerged as a lead researcher in applying new technologies to understanding EBV immune responses in transplant recipients in the clinic and has engaged in multiple collaborative efforts focused on pediatric transplant recipients that produced an impactful publication on high-resolution phenotyping of early acute rejection revealing a conserved immune signature published in Cell Reports in 2021. These exciting investigations have merited sustained NIH funding for over three decades, further underscoring the successful bedside to bench then back to bedside approaches Dr. Martinez has taken to address the challenges of EBV+ PTLD in transplant recipients.
In addition to Dr. Martinez’s prolific research accomplishments, she has an exemplary record of teaching and mentorship. She has received several awards that recognize her outstanding mentoring and teaching contributions, including the Stanford Immunology Program Mentor of the year, the 2021 American Association of Immunologists Distinguished Service Award and Distinguished Fellow of the American Association of Immunologists. Many of her mentees have received highly competitive awards and gone on to successful careers in academia, medicine, and pharma.
The AST and the field of transplantation have benefited from Dr. Martinez’s leadership and dedication. She served on the Executive Committee of the Community of Transplant Scientists; as editor of the AST Newsletter; as a chair, reviewer, and moderator for several transplant meetings, including ATC; and was a founding member of the Women in Transplantation initiative. Currently she serves as an Associate Editor of Transplantation.
Dr. Martinez’s distinguished research program, generous and collegial nature, and significant service to the AST makes her very deserving of this award.
Clinical Science Established Investigator Award
Anthony J. Demetris, MD
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
The 2022 Clinical Science Established Investigator Award was awarded to Dr. Anthony Demetris, the Starzl Professor of Transplantation Pathology at the University of Pittsburgh.
While he is best known for his work in liver transplant pathology, Dr. Demetris stands out in academic pathology as an international expert and central contributor to the development of pathologic criteria for rejection in multiple organ types. He helped develop the ISHLT scoring criteria for heart transplant pathology, and through the Banff foundation, has helped to develop the pathologic criteria for pancreas and liver transplantation, as well as advance the pathologic classification of kidney transplantation. Most recently, he is a coauthor on the proposed scoring criteria for uterine transplants. His basic and clinical studies in the 1990s helped pave the way for the widespread introduction of tacrolimus as an alternative to cyclosporine, both in liver and other transplanted organs.
Dr. Demetris has had a distinguished scientific and clinical career. He is a PI or co-Investigator on 7 current NIH grants, as well as several industry sponsored studies. He is an author on over 700 publications, including over 480 peer-reviewed manuscripts and 50 book chapters. He has mentored dozens of research and clinical fellows, many of whom have established their own distinguished careers in transplantation pathology. Dr. Demetris has also served on numerous editorial boards, among them Xenotransplantation and Liver Transplantation, and is currently an Associate Editor of the American Journal of Transplantation.
Outside of the field of transplantation, Dr. Demetris has also established himself as a visionary and pioneer in digital pathology. As a member of Banff Digital Pathology Working Group, he helped develop the use of a HIPAA compliant pathology informatics software which enhances his ability to serve as a central pathology review site for multiple clinical trials. It also enabled these clinical trials to continue enrolling and evaluating patients despite the pandemic preventing study pathologists from meeting face-to-face.
Dr. Demetris has been an active member of AST since 2004, and has served in numerous capacities at multiple ATC, WTC, and Fellows Symposiums, in addition to his service to the AJT.
Dr. Demetris has had a significant and enduring impact on the practice of transplantation. His career has changed how pathologists diagnose allograft pathology, impacted the choice and availability of immunosuppressant medications, and is helping transplantation transition into the digital era.
Distinguished Senior Career Award
David Taber, PharmD, MS
Medical University of South Carolina
The 2022 Distinguished Senior Career Award went to Dr. David Taber from the Medical University of South Carolina.
Throughout his career, Dr. Taber has made significant contributions to the field of transplantation, specifically elevating the level of practice of the pharmacist. He has authored or co-authored over 100 peer reviewed publications; and over three decades, has trained dozens of medical and pharmacy residents and fellows in the nuances of transplant clinical research.
He has contributed to innovation and sustained excellence in clinical pharmacy services as well as patient outcomes. Dr. Taber’s work on a project entitled “Improving Immunosuppression Monitoring and Care Coordination in Veteran Transplant Recipients” showed in multi-center fashion that pharmacists can improve monitoring and outcomes for these VA transplant recipients using a dashboard. In another project within his own center, Dr. Taber observed a trend and facilitated the development of an investigator-initiated trial to answer questions about regimen selection which were applicable to other centers across the nation. Dr. Taber’s work illustrates the substantial, innovative impact that pharmacists can make in the lives of transplant patients and provides the basis for novel efforts to solve ongoing clinical questions from COVID-19 in solid organ transplant to improving glycemic control in the kidney transplant recipient.
Dr. Taber has been an active member of the AST since 2010 and has served on the TxPharm COP EC since 2013. He is currently chairing the AST Patient Survey Work Group, an exciting new project helping to develop a comprehensive patient survey across all organ groups assessing unmet needs in immunosuppression.
Dr. Taber’s ongoing contributions to the transplantation literature, education, and training of the multidisciplinary team in clinical research, as well as his persistence in improving transplant recipients’ outcomes, have significantly impacted the field.
Basic Science Investigator Award
Hēth R. Turnquist, PhD
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
The 2022 Basic Science Investigator Award was awarded to Dr. Hēth Turnquist, Associate Professor of Surgery from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
His studies blend basic and translational research, placing him in a unique position to advance innovation in our field and translate basic transplant immunology discoveries into therapies that benefit transplant recipients. He has devoted much of his research time to investigating if immune regulatory mechanisms initiated by pro-inflammatory cytokines and alarmins, such as IL-12 or IL-33, can be harnessed to improve long-term transplant outcomes. This work identified a previously unknown regulatory capacity of IL-33 that the Turnquist research team is aiming to exploit to facilitate induction of transplant tolerance or prevent development of chronic allograft vasculopathy. Dr. Turnquist’s research excellence is underscored by his funding success. As examples, he currently holds an active multi-PI R01 grant on mechanisms of IL-33 in skeletal muscle repair, is a co-investigator on multiple grants exploring various aspects of T cells, and recently received a DoD grant to study the use of Treg and microparticle therapy for the prevention of rejection in vascularized composite allografts.
Dr. Turnquist is an impressive educator and mentor in the graduate training program and as a faculty trainer on three current NIH T32 training grants, including the Starzl Transplantation Institute’s Interdisciplinary NIH Training Program in Transplantation Biology.
In addition, Dr. Turnquist has been an active AST member since joining in 2005. His AST contributions include service as a founding executive committee member of the Community of Transplant Scientists and a member and chair of the AST Research Network Scientific Review Committee.
Dr. Turnquist is unquestionably a leader in transplantation immunology and a steadfast advocate of AST.
Clinical Science Investigator Award
Sumit Mohan, MD, MPH
The 2022 Clinical Science Investigator Award was awarded to Dr. Sumit Mohan from the Columbia University Irving Medical Center.
Dr. Mohan has been engaged in a broad range of activities involving informatics, epidemiology, and data analysis focused on issues related to access to transplantation and organ discards. Dr. Mohan built an active clinical and outcomes research program focused on improving access to transplantation and outcomes for patients with kidney disease that has gained extensive extramural funding and a strong publication track record. This includes over 170 publications, many of which have been published within the last three years. He is currently the PI for 3 NIH awards, which are focused on patient access to and outcomes of kidney transplantation, including efforts to improve organ donation among minorities and to improve the understanding of the ethical, legal, and social implications of genetic testing of living donors.
Dr. Mohan has also made significant contributions to AST since joining in 2010. He has been an ATC abstract reviewer since 2015 and served as a co-chair for the review of abstracts related to deceased donor organ allocation for ATC 2020. Additionally, Dr. Mohan has spoken at CEoT and the AST Fellows Symposium, and currently serves as a member of the AST Research Network Committee. Dr. Mohan has demonstrated commitment to participating and leading many programs and committees within the field, including the UNOS Data Advisory Committee, the SRTR Visiting Committee, NIH study section reviewers, ASN quality committee, and editorial roles for peer-reviewed publications.
Dr. Mohan’s exceptional academic achievements, clinical experience, leadership capacity, collegiality, and extensive engagement serve as a model to those interested in a career in the field of transplantation.
Distinguished Mid-Career Award
Michelle T. Jesse, PhD, FAST
Henry Ford Health System
The 2022 Distinguished Mid-Career Award went to Dr. Michelle Jesse of the Henry Ford Health System.
Her research has focused on psychosocial dynamics of patients, caregivers, and even transplant providers. Notable publications include those that explored determinants of burnout in transplant surgeons and transplant nurses, defined approaches for providing caregiver support in organ transplant recipients, and studied novel patient-centric support for those with chronic medical conditions. This work has been supported by institutional and foundation grants and led to planned submission of an NIH R01 grant this coming year. Dr. Jesse’s work has also included a sustained focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion: she was awarded a Health Equities Scholar Award at Henry Ford Health Systems, published on racial disparities in liver transplantation candidate selection, and serves on the Henry Ford Medical Group Diversity & Inclusion Strategic Planning Committee.
Dr. Jesse has also demonstrated a continued commitment to AST. An AST member since 2013, she has assumed various leadership roles culminating in her current role as Chair of the AST Psychosocial and Ethics COP. More recently she served as one of four co-chairs on the joint initiative with LICOP titled the Living Donor Liver Transplantation (LDLT): A Multi-Center/Society Collaboration Towards Growth and Consensus.
Dr. Jesse exemplifies excellence in both research and clinical care and collaborative leadership, demonstrating promise to shape and advance the field of organ transplantation for years to come.
Basic Science Career Development Award
Gregory T. Tietjen, PhD
Yale School of Medicine
The 2022 Basic Science Career Development Award went to Dr. Gregory Tietjen of the Yale School of Medicine.
Dr. Tietjen is an assistant professor in the department of surgery’s transplant section and the department of biomedical engineering. In these roles, Dr. Tietjen applies basic science and engineering tools to transform the clinical practice of organ transplantation.
Dr. Tietjen’s work thus far has led to discovering a new mechanism driving microvascular obstructions in human kidneys upon reperfusion. Combining this finding with a related therapeutic intervention that will soon be the subject of a first-in-human clinical trial represents an important advance for the field. Dr. Tietjen’s group has also pioneered new methods for targeted nanomedicine delivery that have groundbreaking potential for pre-transplant therapies, particularly related to graft-centered immunosuppression. In addition to his high-quality science, Dr. Tietjen is a passionate advocate for honoring the gift of donation through pre-clinical research on transplant declined human organs. His group has worked extensively with New England Donor Services to build a robust program for preclinical research with declined human kidneys and livers.
Dr. Tietjen is an active and dedicated AST member, as evidenced by his active participation on the Recovery and Preservation COP Executive Committee, service as a session chair for the 2022 ATC meeting, and as a grant reviewer.
Dr. Tietjen has made significant contributions to the fields of organ donation and transplantation and has demonstrated his potential to be a thought leader in the field for years to come.
Clinical Science Career Development Award
Marlena Habal, MD
Columbia University of Physicians and Surgeons
The 2022 AST Clinical Science Career Development Award went to Dr. Marlena Habal of Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Dr. Habal is a practicing transplant cardiologist committed to developing innovative translational and clinical research programs aimed at improving transplant outcomes for patients with end stage heart failure. During her first year as an Assistant Professor, she completed a study using belatacept in combination with a proteasome inhibitor and showed that desensitization was associated with a decrease in germinal center responses and a shift in NK cells to a more activated phenotype. The study provided insights into mechanism of action and was published in the AJT in 2020. Dr. Habal leveraged these results to obtain an investigator-initiated research grant from industry to test Belatacept in heart transplantation and an R34 from the NIH to support the planning of a multicenter clinical trial to assess the safety and efficacy of belatacept with tacrolimus tapering in heart transplant recipients. She also received Columbia University’s Nelson Faculty Development Award and the Mendez National Institute of Transplantation Foundation grant to create assays aimed at developing mechanistic understanding and biomarkers to predict and monitor for a successful desensitization response and to identify new therapeutic targets to further improve desensitization.
In addition to launching her independent clinical and research career, Dr. Habal has been actively engaged with AST. She has served as the co-editor of “This week in Transplant-Transplant News” since 2019 and as a breakout session leader at the AST Fellows Conference in 2020 and 2021.
Dr. Habal has already made several remarkable findings and is poised to build on her successful clinical studies to address critical issues in heart transplantation.
Distinguished Early Career Award
Nicole Valenzuela, PhD, D(ABHI)
University of California, Los Angeles
The 2022 Distinguished Early Career Award went to Dr. Nicole Valenzuela of the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Valenzuela is an Assistant Director at the UCLA Immunogenetics Center and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.
Although early in her career, Dr. Valenzuela has demonstrated a remarkable record of productivity, including her discoveries that HLA antibodies trigger endothelial activation to increase monocyte adherence, which is augmented by parallel antibody effector functions that activate complement and Fc-gamma receptors. This work yielded multiple excellent papers in high impact journals including the American Journal of Transplantation, the Journal of Immunology, and Transplantation.
Building on her research and clinical training, Dr. Valenzuela explored how endothelial cells from different organs exhibit heterogeneity in the response to inflammatory stimuli encountered during transplant rejection. The project was productive and generated preliminary data that formed the basis for her current research focused on how intrinsic regulators of endothelial identity and inflammatory responses become dysregulated during vascular diseases like transplant rejection.
Dr. Valenzuela is an active member of AST and her expertise in the field has been recognized by numerous invitations to present at national scientific meetings in the transplantation field.
Her diverse experience and knowledge in immunology, vascular biology, immunogenetics, and clinical transplantation has uniquely positioned her to research the heterogeneity of the endothelial cell response to alloimmune injury, and she is poised to make original discoveries in the field of transplant immunology.