Since ASTCT’s founding in 1993, one of the most important aspects of the society has been connectivity. In the 25+ years since, we’ve seen the society grow and change. But one thing remains true: the society’s dedication to helping those in BMT and cellular therapy grow as individuals and institutions.
ASTCT is made up of 2,200 physicians, investigators, and other health care professionals focused on the advancement of transplantation and cellular therapy. The society offers educational opportunities for everyone—from the fellow who is just beginning his or her career to the seasoned professional—and allows people from all areas of BMT and cellular therapy to get involved. We also provide extensive professional development tools, as well as resources for your practice.
Let me give you a personal perspective on the value of ASTCT membership. Before writing this letter, I went to our basement, fired up the time machine and went back to 2013 – the year I took on my current role as director of BMT Program at the Cleveland Clinic. My first reaction was “Wow, I look younger, leaner and healthier!” But let’s just focus on ASTCT (then ASBMT) in the day of the life of a newly minted and nervous BMT Program Director.
I was beginning my day by reading Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation, which is now the No. 1 journal in transplantation and cellular therapy field. I was reading a paper that one of my mentees wrote – I was feeling proud of her as I marveled over the knowledge contained within the glossy pages of that issue.
Then it was time to go and see patients. In clinic, our fellow quickly pulled up practice guidelines from our society’s website to help us in clinical decision making. In between patients, I quickly sent emails to our program administrator and our pharmacist to reach out to colleagues in the society listserv to get some feedback on what other programs were doing for a reimbursement and medication issue, respectively. Then it was lunch time, and as I sat down our my multicourse lunch (of crackers and coffee), I read Dr. Fred LeMaistre’s President’s column in our ASTCT’s monthly newsletter. My brain weighed an ounce heavier by the time I finished lunch with all the wisdom I had imbibed from his column and the rest of the content.
Did I tell you that it was early March 2013 – two weeks after the TCT (then Tandem) meetings? I was still getting over my hangover – the high that one gets after attending THE meeting for transplant and cellular therapy. I was still trying to parse through the science and data, and figuring out how to apply that to my patients. I was thinking about the great interactions I had when meeting old friends and all the new friends I had made from all over the world. I was gloating over the spectacular presentations by our trainees and team members at the meeting.
Soon thereafter, in the stack of mail lying on my desk, I found a form for enrolling a patient on the CMS study for an MDS patient. I was so thankful for the advocacy work done by our society in ensuring access to transplant for our older patients. I was looking forward to my 1:1 with one of our junior faculty, who was going to apply for the Clinical Research Training Course and we were going to brainstorm ideas for a New Investigator Award application. At the end of the day, I got on the phone to join a conference call for the Practice Guidelines Committee – awed by the efficiency with which Dr. Paul Carpenter accomplished so much during that call and the engagement and passion of my colleagues from all over the country who were collaboratively working to move the field forward.
As I come back to the present, I can go and an on about the benefits of membership. But I hope you get the message. There is so much the ASTCT can offer you – around education, clinical care, research and advocacy. The society also gives you an opportunity to grow professionally and personally and to give back. What I value the most is the friendships I have made with so many colleagues all over the world through the society, connections which I don’t believe I would made otherwise.
If you’re already with us, please remember to renew your membership before Dec. 31, 2019 to retain all of the amazing benefits. If you’re not with us yet, please consider joining. We are in a really exciting era in our field as we transition from traditional transplants to adding cellular therapies into our armamentarium of treatments we can offer to our patients.
ASTCT gives us the chance to work together, and move us all in the right direction.
Dr. Navneet Majhail