A Word from President John DiPersio, MD
This represents my first President’s Message for the ASBMT. Many of you may not know me so let me make a formal introduction. I am the Chief of the Division of Oncology and Deputy Director of the Siteman Cancer Center, Washington University School of Medicine. This is currently my 25th year as Chief of the Division of Oncology at Wash U. I helped grow the Wash U Division of Oncology from a Division of 4 faculty to a large (>130 faculty), diverse and scientifically excellent Division that is a leader in many basic science, translational and clinical research areas. I am most proud of the number of outstanding young physician-scientists that we have trained at the bench and in the clinic that are now leaders in their own right here at Wash U and at other top notch academic medical centers and cancer centers around the world. Oh yea, I have 7 year old twins (Jack and Izzy), a wife who is a Wash U academic pediatric hematologist-oncologist (Allison King) and a dog, Sully, who is definitely a “bad boy.”
I am not sure how I got here as president of ASBMT but I am both honored and excited with the opportunity. I have sat in the background watching my peers in the ASBMT leadership, the immediate past presidents, Krishna Komanduri and Chris Bredeson who have masterfully guided the Society forward with firm and visionary hands. I have learned a lot…I hope!. I also have had the great pleasure of working with both the administrative staffs of the previous association management company (AMC), EAI and the new AMC chosen to replace EAI (as of April 2, 2018), SmithBucklin. I am so grateful for their help and support. In addition to the a great new AMC, the support and direction of immediate and past presidents of ASBMT, a strong and clinically and scientifically diverse ASBMT Executive Committee, Board of Directors and, most importantly the contribution of the rank and file membership of ASBMT, you would think that it would be difficult for this Society to move anywhere but forward…by leaps and bounds.
Several intangibles will insure our continued success. First the infrastructural support of the ASBMT administrative issues will be considerably strengthened by the large increase of manpower and expertise from SmithBucklin. Our journal, Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation, under the stewardship of Bob Korngold has never been in better shape or with a higher Impact Factor. Bob has been a tireless leader who I hope will continue to enhance the quality and impact of our journal over the next 12 months and beyond. No stepping down for you Bob! The immediate past presidents, Chris Bredeson and Krishna Komanduri had the vision and insight to of bring in new and specialized skill sets into ASBMT in the form of Angie Dahl and Stephanie Farnia who will remain as our employees and will be incorporated into the enhanced manpower, infrastructure and skill sets of SmithBucklin. Angie and Stephanie both come from our long-term partner organization, Be The Match/NMDP and will provide unique oversight and strengths to our Society in the form of Fund Raising/Development and Governmental Affairs and Advocacy, respectively. Already in their short tenures since leaving the NMDP, they have invigorated this Society and literally reshaped it such that it is far better for patients, ASBMT members, ASBMT leaders, our companion organizations such as the NMDP, CIBMTR and the general community of transplant and cellular therapy health care providers.
You have probably heard, that in collaboration with our friends and partners at CIBMTR we have decided to rename the 2019 Tandem meeting in Houston, Texas to the 2019 Transplant and Cellular Therapy Meeting or TCT meeting (#TCTM19). This change was carefully conceived and only after several years of thoughtful consideration and watching the trends in our field and how it is now MORE than a field of stem cell transplantation but one that encompasses other cellular therapies such as stem cell gene therapy, T cell gene therapy, bispecific therapies, novel stem cell niche disrupting agents for stem cell mobilization and chemosensitization, clinical stem cell and T cell gene editing using CRISPR/Cas9 and other platforms, off-the-shelf third party cytotoxic T cell therapy for PTLDs and resistant viral infections and finally neo-antigen and embryonic antigen CART and TCR based targeting for treatment of solid and liquid hematologic malignancies. The ASBMT will play a major and leading role in the field of cellular therapies in the future which will encompass, break-through science, education, clinical guideline generation and consensus for management of toxicities that will enhance the dissemination of these technologies widely and ensure their safety.
Finally, I am committed to the ASBMT continuing to work closely with industry partners to enhance our unbiased and unconflicted missions to provide education, training and cutting edge transplant and cellular therapies for our patients and with the NIH (NHLBI and NCI in particular) and other private foundations to enhance the available funding for the mentoring and training of the next generation of transplant and cellular therapy scientists, physician-scientists, clinical investigators and allied health care providers moving into the future.
On a personal note, I want to be interactive and available to all corners of the ASBMT. I want to hear from those of you who want to engage, who want to learn, who have a good idea, who have identified problems and especially from those of you who are not yet in our society but will consider this move as we become the one great society in the world focused on transplant and cellular therapies…that means you!
John F. DiPersio, MD, PhD
President of ASBMT