2014 AST Achievement Award Recipients

Friday, August 15, 2014

Lifetime Achievement Award
J. Harold Helderman, MD

The AST Lifetime Achievement Award is AST’s most prestigious award and honors a senior investigator whose lifelong work has advanced the field of transplantation. Throughout his illustrious career, Dr. Helderman has held many distinguished positions for the institutions he has served. He is a consummate clinician with the attributes of an inquisitive and curious scientist, interested in providing superb care to his patients, but also relentless in his desire to further the field of transplantation science and medicine.

Dr. Helderman has demonstrated outstanding service to the AST, having held positions on numerous committees and serving as the AST president in 1997-1998. During his presidency, Dr. Helderman was directly responsible for the creation of the AST/ASN Renal Transplant Fellowship Training Accreditation Program along with Dr. Wadi Suki. Dr. Helderman's dedication to fostering the next generation of transplant professionals is evident through his commitment to this program as well as through his continued mentoring efforts at his institution."

Lifetime Achievement Award
Susan J. Nelson, CAE

The AST Lifetime Achievement Award is being awarded to Susan in recognition of her exemplary service to the AST. As Executive Vice President of the AST for the past 20 years, Susan has played a crucial part in the organization and proliferation of AST, helping to shape it into the leading voice that it is today. Susan’s vision for the AST to become a more engaging and inclusive society has been realized, with over 3,500 members representing all areas of transplantation.

Perhaps her most impactful contribution has been the development of AST’s “Communities of Practice”. These special interest groups focus on initiatives and issues important to their specialty area, allowing members to network, share resources, and enhance their knowledge. The COPs are the most dynamic part of AST, celebrating and cultivating the multi-faceted nature of transplantation. Susan considers the COPs her legacy, and views them as representative of the tremendous spirit of AST’s membership.

Senior Achievement Award in Clinical Transplantation
Jay Alan Fishman, MD

The Senior Achievement Award in Clinical Transplantation recognizes outstanding contributions to clinical transplantation over the course of a clinical career. Dr. Fishman’s research has established many of the key paradigms used to today for the prevention and treatment of post-transplant infections. He was the first to break new ground in the field by being the first Transplant Infectious Diseases physician over a range of regulatory, research and professional society organizations. His contributions to the fields of transplantation and infectious diseases are nothing short of amazing. The field would not be where it is today without Dr. Fishman’s contributions.

Mentoring Award
Manikkam Suthanthiran, MD

The AST Mentoring Award is intended to recognize outstanding mentors in the field of transplantation. Dr. Suthanthiran has been extremely influential in launching the careers of many transplant nephrologists. He has taught his mentees how to build character and focus on achieving their goals, and his personal character traits of hard work, honesty and integrity remain as an example for the mentees he has trained.

Transplant Advocacy Award
Lois Capps

The Transplant Advocacy Award recognizes a non-AST member for his or her contribution to organ donation and transplantation. Congresswoman Lois Capps worked for years crafting legislation that ultimately culminated in the HOPE Act, which was signed into law by President Obama on November 21, 2013. The HOPE Act provides life-saving transplants for patients infected with HIV, now allowing HIV-infected patients to receive a HIV-positive donor organ. As a direct result of Mrs. Capps’ efforts, new scientific discoveries are assured with the opportunity to now use HIV positive organs for research. Congresswoman Capps’ advocacy for transplantation provides an inspiring example of how consensus building improves the lives of those afflicted with end stage organ disease.

Congresswoman Capps was unable to attend the World Transplant Congress to accept her award, and she recorded a brief message for those in attendance.

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Clinician of Distinction Award
Ashley Vo, PharmD

The AST Clinician of Distinction Award is given to a non-physician recognized for outstanding contributions to clinical transplantation. Dr. Vo is a dedicated and tireless worker who has helped create a new area of therapeutics in transplant medicine and is now recognized as an international expert in this. She has contributed significantly to advancements in the management of sensitized transplant recipients. In this regard, Dr. Vo is considered a pioneer in the field.

Basic Science Established Investigator Award
David KC Cooper, MD, PhD

Dr. Cooper is an internationally recognized leader in the field of xenotransplantation whose scientific, educational, and service contributions to the transplant community stand in a league of their own. He has made seminal discovers including the characterization of hyperacute rejection in the pig to baboon heart transplantation model. Dr. Cooper’s contributions to the advancement of xenotransplantation are not restricted to scientific discovers but also encompass the areas of service, education and mentorship.

Clinical Science Established Investigator Award
Parmjeet Randhawa, MD

Dr. Randhawa’s service to the AST is complemented by excellence in all three realms of academic medicine. He is a well-known diagnostic transplant pathologist, scholarly investigator in the realm of transplant infections, and an accomplished educator.

Basic Science Investigator Award
Gilles Benichou, MD, PhD

Dr. Benichou was among the first investigators to demonstrate the existence of an alternate pathway of the immune rejection of allografts. His abilities as a productive and innovative scientist have qualified him as a leading figure in the field of transplantation biology, and his contributions have opened new perspectives on the treatment of transplant rejection and autoimmune diseases.

Clinical Science Investigator Award
Josh Levitsky, MD, MS

Dr. Levitsky has demonstrated all of the skills necessary for a successful career in clinical investigation, including logical thinking, clear writing, creative clinical trial designs, working effectively in large collaborative groups, and overcoming the challenges that arise without compromising the trial’s scientific objectives. He also shows an outstanding commitment to education, having mentored nine students and 19 residents and fellows. This is all the more impressive when weighed together with his academic accomplishments.

Basic Science Career Development Award
Mandy Ford, PhD

Dr. Ford’s studies investigating the impact of memory T cells on allograft rejection are widely regarded by her colleagues in the field as outstanding. Using state of the art methods to track graft-reactive T cells, Dr. Ford has substantially advanced our understanding of the behavior of T cells after transplantation. In addition to being a highly productive researcher, she is an outstanding teacher, consistently receiving high evaluations for her courses and lectures.

Clinical Science Career Development Award
Julie Ho, MD

Dr. Ho has continuously demonstrated superb talent, motivation, intellect and resourcefulness, and has the ability to carry research from design to publication. She is recognized internationally for her expertise in urinary biomarkers, and development of surveillance strategies to monitor renal allografts from implantation to late post-transplant period.