As 2019 Ends, Let's Reflect On Another Great Year

2019 is coming to an end—boy, time flies when you are having a good time. It seems like yesterday when Dr. DiPersio handed me the then-ASBMT gavel at the 2019 TCT Meetings of ASBMT and CIBMTR in Houston. I have to confess I was not told, and did not know, what to do with it at that moment. Someone noticed my bewildered look and yelled “hit it!” and I gently tapped it on the podium. Then someone yelled “harder,” and I pulled into the force of all our presidents past and brought that gavel down—so that was my first act as ASTCT president – where I almost broke our society’s relic (hint, I am eagerly looking forward to the next Star Wars movie in a few weeks).

Although the gavel is intact, we did break ground into the future that day, by transitioning from the ASBMT to the ASTCT. I will share that even though there was great enthusiasm and consensus within our Board to change the name, there was trepidation—after all, we had something really good going for us for 25 years. After seeing where the transplantation and cellular therapy field is going from a vantage point, I can confidently say that all fears have been laid to rest and we did make the right decision at the right time. In fact, several other international sister societies are following suit and have either changed or are considering adding “cellular therapy” in their names.

In our initial discussions about changing society’s name, we had also talked about our journal which is one of the flagship products of the ASTCT. Over the past year, under the leadership of our Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Korngold, we have worked on obtaining feedback from the Editorial Board and the Publications Committee. The conversations were hard, thoughtful and deliberative—especially given that our journal is doing so well and continues to rise, thanks to the efforts of our Editorial Board, reviewers and our colleagues who submit high-quality research to it.

I am delighted to share that the ASTCT Board unanimously voted in our October meeting to change the name of the journal from Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation to Transplantation and Cellular Therapy. With this, the transition of our society to better reflect what all of us are already doing in the cell therapy space will be complete. The new name will become effective in January 2021; stay tuned for more information this coming year as we gear up for some very exciting new direction for our journal.

I usually take the end of the year as an opportunity to reflect, to celebrate and to remember. 2019 has been an incredible year for the ASTCT. I am very proud of the work all of you have done—our volunteers and members – your passion and commitment to the field and the society is what keeps us going. A shout out to our ASTCT staff team—they do an incredible job in supporting the society. They provided an overview of ongoing and completed projects during our October Board meeting—I am aware of the work they are doing, but I was blown away with our progress since this was the first time I saw it all come together.

I will end with a story of joy and thanks. I care for a young lady with bad leukemia, who is around a year out from an unrelated donor transplant. Her husband signed up for Be The Match registry when she was going through the transplant process. Recently, he learned that he is a match to a patient who needs a transplant and will be donating marrow soon. They are overjoyed and thankful for this opportunity to give back. Their experience encapsulates the impact all of you have on patients—irrespective of whether you focus on clinical care or research or support our community and field in any capacity.

Explore our new and completely revamped ASTCT website (www.astct.org), if you have not done so already. And have a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year 2020.

Tags: majhail, astct, membership, president's message, 2019

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