01.10.20

Looking Ahead to the New Year and New Opportunities

A year of strong accomplishments is behind us and the ASTCT has entered a year of tremendous opportunities. Happy New Year!

I always look forward to the holidays. Tis the time of the year when I get greeting and holiday cards from patients and their families. Sometimes I have to strain my memory to connect names with photos – it can be hard to recognize people whose head (and sometimes face) is now full of hair, they have swapped their dreary hospital gowns for bright clothes, and they and everything around them is full of life. I also get cards and notes from families of patients who have passed away – they are always tough to read, but the most gratifying. Always a reminder that what we do is very special, irrespective of our successes and ‘failures’. 

January heralds the beginning of the end of my term as President. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time during a period of transition for the society and it has been a great honor to work with so many distinguished and dedicated colleagues. I will soon pass on the baton to our President-Elect, Dr Pavan Reddy. I have known Pavan as a good friend, but this is the first time I have actually worked with him and had the opportunity to observe his leadership skills as a colleague on ASTCT’s Executive Committee – I will suffice it by saying that the society will be in excellent hands under his visionary direction. I do also want to remind you to vote for nominees on the ballot for our Board of Directors.

January also means that our ASTCT and CIBMTR teams are frantically finalizing preparations for our signature meeting – the Transplantation and Cellular Therapy meeting. "TCT meeting" now easily rolls off my tongue and I no longer have to consciously avoid saying "Tandem BMT meetings." I am so very excited about our upcoming meeting in Orlando. The agenda and sessions are seriously fabulous and we have an excellent list of speakers and presenters who will teach us and share their research. Congratulations to our entire scientific organizing committee, especially the chairs Dr. Mary Flowers and Dr. Katy Rezvani, and our really awesome meeting planning team. This TCT meeting also happens to be the 25th anniversary of the combined ASTCT (previously ASBMT) and CIBMTR conference. This is quite a landmark given that at one point in history, the viability of our field was in question.    

So what am I most excited about for the ASTCT in 2020? To be honest, it is all of you – our members and colleagues who expend so much selfless time and effort volunteering for the society. It is your dedication and ideas that are so critical for the advancement of our field of BMT and cellular therapy. I have been thrilled to see the enthusiasm in getting engaged with the society, especially among our trainees and junior faculty. We are actively working to harness that energy. One major step was the affirmation of a new governance policy by our Board that will streamline the nomination process for service on committees and special interest groups. Our team will be rolling this out very soon – so stay tuned. As long as we continue to have a cadre of dedicated young volunteers, the state of the society will remain strong.

As I end this blog, I do want to share what I am planning to focus on more in 2020 – and that is compassion. Recently, I had to spend some time as a caregiver for a loved one. Nothing brings more clarity to the soul than some time in the ICU as a family caregiver. This is going to sound rather counterintuitive, but time really slows down and it can be a very isolating and lonely place. I was able to first hand appreciate the profound value of empathy and compassion shown by the clinical team. That is when I resolved to be more compassionate to my patients, my colleagues, my family, and to myself.

Happy new year, again. And I hope to see many of you at the TCT meeting next month.  

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