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SfC Attends Organ Banking Summit

Organ Banking Summit Event Report

Guest Post by Jason Acker, President of the Society for Cryobiology. 

Above: Society for Cryobiology board members: Rob Ben, Governor; Gloria Elliott former Treasurer and Governor; Jason Acker, President.

Scientists, engineers, key stakeholders from government, and industry and leaders from non-profit organizations focused on organ procurement for human health came together in Boston from Aug 3-6, 2017 for the Summit on Organ Banking through Converging Technologies (i.e. the Organ Preservation Summit). The Society for Cryobiology partnered with the Organ Preservation Alliance to host this exciting event aimed at bringing together experts to discuss the need for advances in organ banking and how best to overcome the scientific challenges that will enable long-term organ preservation.

The first day of the conference was held at the Joseph B. Martin Conference Centre on the Harvard Medical School campus and focused on outlining the importance that advances in organ and tissue preservation could have in transforming medicine. Through a series of keynote and lightning talks, fireside chats and inspirational stories from organ recipients, we heard first hand the challenges that currently affect organ banking and how advances in new technologies may radically alter how organ banking is performed in the future. The day ended with a challenge by Jed Lewis, President and CEO of the Organ Preservation Alliance, to all scientists and clinicians to consider how they might contribute to addressing the grand challenge of organ preservation.

Over the next two days, conference attendees were able to participate in “Deep Dive” sessions that were aimed at familiarizing everyone with the scientific and engineering challenges of organ banking and to allow for cross pollination of ideas amongst the diverse group of attendees. Members of the Society for Cryobiology played a very active role in the program, providing “crash courses” in ice formation, cryoprotectant toxicity, physical effects of cryopreservation, metabolic engineering, cryoinjury, and organ perfusion. It was clear that cryobiology and our society members are playing a very important role in addressing the current challenges affecting long-term organ preservation and transplantation.

Throughout the 3 day meeting, young scientists and clinicians had the opportunity to participate in a Hackathon. This event challenged six teams to come up with a “breakthrough idea" that would help enable organ preservation. The teams were mentored by members of the Society and were required to present their idea to a group of judges. The top 2 teams presented on the last day of the conference to an esteemed group of 5 judges which collectively represented 3 past-presidents of the Society for Cryobiology and 4 Fellows of our Society - quite a prestigious group! The winning team was rewarded with a cash prize to support them in pursuing the development of their idea. It was amazing to see the quality of the research ideas that were proposed by the teams.

It was very exciting for me to have had the opportunity to meet with a broad range of individuals from very distinct areas of research who share a collective goal of working to overcome the scientific, engineering, political, social barriers which are preventing us from achieving real progress in organ preservation. The Organ Preservation Summit reinforced for me the important role that the Society for Cryobiology has in promoting and advancing the low temperature sciences, and the significant impact that we can have when we partner with groups such as the Organ Preservation Alliance.

-Jason Acker

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