UNOS research goes virtual: Insights from the 2020 American Transplant Congress
UNOS scientists present research on behavioral science, equity in access and impact of policy changes.
As the joint annual meeting of the American Society of Transplantation and the American Society of Transplant Surgeons, the American Transplant Congress has always served as a forum where researchers discuss the latest lifesaving breakthroughs in organ donation and transplant science. This year was no different, except that rather than convening at a conference center, thousands of transplant professionals from around the world met virtually in online sessions where they presented on the most recent research unfolding in the organ donation and transplant community.
“Even with ATC happening virtually this year, the UNOS team was able to present our research on the U.S. transplant system to the conference’s international audience,” said Bob Carrico, Ph.D., United Network for Organ Sharing director of research. “Our work offers the unique perspective of studying the entire system—including how it is affected by policy changes and public health trends—as well as studying the effects of user interactions with the system.”
Between May 30 and June 3, more than two dozen UNOS researchers presented their data-driven studies aimed at discovering innovations that improve the U.S. organ donation and transplantation system.
“Our presentations at ATC demonstrate the breadth of knowledge and skills on our team, as well as the varied research approaches we take to study the national system,” Carrico said.
Improving the transplant system through research and analytics
The work UNOS researchers presented at the conference involved a spectrum of organ transplant-related issues, ranging from improving equity in access to transplants to analyzing the impact of policy changes on organ donation trends and examining the potential for behavioral science to help predict transplant outcomes. Topics presented at the 2020 conference included:
- “One year of COIIN outcomes: Did cohorts A and B maintain graft survival?“
- “Measuring and monitoring equity in access to deceased donor lung transplants among lung registrations“
- “Machine learning to predict deceased donor kidney biopsy results“
“There is so much intellectual capital assembled at UNOS to study and evaluate the transplant system and find ways to improve through research and analytics,” said UNOS chief growth officer Ryan Ehrensberger, Ph.D. “Being able to share these insights and learn with the international community at ATC helps all of us improve the transplant industry.”
Collaborating with the transplant community
With more than 110,000 people waiting for an organ, the cumulative work of UNOS researchers highlights the importance of community collaboration in evaluating system impacts of various policy and operational changes. The work presented this year at ATC incorporated multiple stakeholders, including patients, and represented important stepping stones for future system modifications.
“The data and results compiled are a culmination of some of the work UNOS researchers have been involved with throughout the past year in support of policy development and evaluation, predictive analytics, collaborative improvement, and data science,” said UNOS assistant director of research Amber Wilk, Ph.D. “I’m so proud of our teams.”
NOTE: Some of the studies presented at ATC were supported wholly or in part by Health Resources and Services Administration contract HHSH250-2019-00001C. The content is the responsibility of the authors alone and does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Health and Human Services, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. government.
“Our work offers the unique perspective of studying the entire system—including how it is affected by policy changes and public health trends—as well as studying the effects of user interactions with the system.”
Bob Carrico, Ph.D., United Network for Organ Sharing director of research
UNOS Labs is a collaborative space where UNOS’ behavioral scientists, biostatisticians, data scientists, and developers partner with donation and transplantation experts to work toward solutions that will make the transplant system more efficient and increase transplants. Learn more.
“There is so much intellectual capital assembled at UNOS to study and evaluate the transplant system and find ways to improve through research and analytics.”
Ryan Ehrensberger, Ph.D., UNOS chief growth officer