07.12.22

The Times They Are A-Changin’

The other day, I heard “The Times They Are A-Changin’” – a song by Bob Dylan from the mid-1960s. A few days later, the US Supreme Court made its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson, effectively overturning Roe v. Wade. Times are changing, to be certain. But I ask myself how a song like “The Times They Are A-Changin’” can still be so relevant 60 years later? 

I have this feeling of juxtaposition. I look at my co-workers in the lab; I look around at an amazing ASTCT community who are driving science and clinical care at mind-boggling rates. Steps forward. And, then like many of you, I read the news from around the world and feel a paradox that events and decisions could take us so many steps backward in terms of clinical care, privacy and shared patient-provider decision making. My respected colleagues, I can’t and won’t speak for your individual voices; but, I will share that I have been struggling with these events.

In my role as ASTCT President, I ask how do we continue to advance forward in ways that bring the best healthcare options to our patients in the face of present decisions that seem to do the opposite? There are no simple answers. But I am always left with this resolve – we are going to keep pushing for positive change. We will advance care for our patients and the scientific developments that push our mission, research and advocacy forward.

  • Two years ago, ASTCT joined with CIBMTR, FACT, ISCT and EBMT to develop a shared statement on the importance of diversity and inclusion. Current decisions and events around us can disproportionately affect underserved individuals, families and communities. ASTCT remains committed to creating a more diverse, inclusive community to ensure that we are part of the solution to addressing healthcare disparities. 
  • On that note, the ASTCT Board of Directors has been actively working to develop a new plan for the Society’s strategic priorities. Topics like diversity and inclusion have been top of mind in our ongoing discussions. We meet again on 21-July, and I will provide you with an update on those plans. I welcome your thoughts in return.
  • We are actively advocating on behalf of our community with CMS for the Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) – appropriate coverage and payment are critical to providing the best care to our patients. The approvals—or anticipated approvals—of novel cellular immunotherapies and gene therapies have highlighted challenges within the Medicare coverage, coding, and payment systems. ASTCT remains concerned about the potential barriers to care these challenges may cause. We are committed to working with CMS to find solutions that ensure patient access to these therapies without creating financial harm to the clinicians providing them.
  • ASTCT and NMDP are partnering in a Joint Access Workshop to connect key stakeholders in the field of cellular transplantation to discuss and address access barriers to transplant. Invited participants will join together later this month in Washington, DC, to discuss critical topics like poverty, racial inequity, and awareness
  • ASTCT has increased our investment in various awards, particularly for newer professionals in our field. We want to help build the career advancement of those in our community. I invite you to learn more about our Observationship Award and our Career Development Award.

Earlier this week, ASTCT released a new Titans of Transplant podcast with Dr. Adriana Seber. Dr. Seber has been an instrumental figure in changing our times. I love the podcast because it celebrates how we build on our history, rather than reversing it.

The times are changing. As a community, I hope you join me in making ASTCT part of positive change. In the most challenging of times, we as ASTCT can continue our mission to improve the application and success of blood and marrow transplantation and related cellular therapies – through our research, education, advocacy and clinical practice.

Respectfully,

Brenda M. Sandmaier, MD

President

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