Research/NIH Funding

The success of clinical transplantation in saving the lives of individuals with life-threatening diseases is due to advances made through basic scientific research in the fields of immunology, molecular biology, biochemistry, genetics, and cell biology. NIH-funded research has been the foundation for the development of an infrastructure supporting studies that serve to improve therapy and outcome of patients requiring organ transplants. Results obtained through NIH-funded research have led to prolonged patient and graft survival, the development of new pharmaceutical agents such as immunosuppressants and anti-microbials, and exciting ventures into future innovative therapies, including novel immunomodulators, stem cells, strategies for promoting organ regeneration, and xenotransplantation. The American Society of Transplantation (AST) strongly supports increases in NIH funding to promote new discoveries and innovations in basic and translational research, all of which serve to improve the health and prolong the lives of individuals with life-threatening and chronic diseases.

Current research related to organ transplantation is primarily funded through the NIAID, NHLBI, and NIDDK. Transplantation or replacement of human organs and tissues has the potential to cure multiple organ-specific and systemic diseases, as well as disfigurement and damage due to combat injuries, burns, and accidents. The success of transplantation as a therapy, and the translation of research findings into the clinic, are crucially dependent upon the steady growth of basic science, and the training of basic scientists, clinical investigators, and expert clinicians. We are now on the threshold of many important breakthroughs in transplantation. The ability to manipulate the immune system and specifically induce immune tolerance, the potential utilization of stem cells to facilitate tissue regeneration, and the identification of new therapies for the prevention of chronic rejection will likely be the key to improved success of transplantation. The AST strongly supports any and all initiatives to increase funding for basic and clinical research and for the training of scientists. These funds will provide the necessary foundation for the field of organ transplantation to realize its full potential for improving the length and quality of human life.

In summary, the AST supports the following initiatives:.

  • Sustained and increased funding of transplantation research through the NIH, DOD and other federal agencies,
  • Promotion of investigations into the biological basis of rejection, the mechanisms for chronic allograft injury, and the development of new strategies for tolerance induction, such that transplanted organs will last longer and organ shortages will be alleviated,
  • Provision of funding for bench-to-bedside studies investigating the mechanisms for differences in graft survival outcomes especially in relation to age, ethnicity, race and gender.

Approved by the AST Board of Directors on April 13, 2009
Revised and approved by the AST Board of Directors on September 6, 2011