PeerJ Awards Winners at CEoT 2024

by | Feb 5, 2024 | Award Winner Interviews

The Cutting Edge of Transplantation (CEoT) meeting is a topic-specific conference held annually by the American Society of Transplantation (AST) in Phoenix, USA. This meeting invites transplant professionals from all specialties and career levels to engage in interactive sessions on the latest topics in transplantation, network with colleagues from across the globe, and participate in symposiums and activities. 

In 2024, the meeting is titled “Leveraging Innovative Technology: To Save and Improve More Lives Through Transplantation.” CEoT 2024 will address novel, cutting-edge technologies in transplantation and define innovative strategies to utilize currently existing technologies to advance the field of transplantation and improve patient outcomes. Topics of this meeting will include artificial intelligence, remote patient monitoring, therapeutics and diagnostics, organ optimization, and much more.

David Foley, Chair of CEoT Planning Committee.


Aung Naing Resident at Eastern Virginia Medical School, USA. 

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your research interests?

My name is Aung. I am currently a resident PGY3 in Internal Medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School. I’m originally from Myanmar (Burma). I finished medical school in Myanmar and came to the States in 2019. I worked as a scribe/clinical assistant in nursing homes working with different physicians in New York City.

I’m particularly interested in transplant nephrology. I was impressed by the fact that a successful and well-maintained transplant kidney can extend human life by 20-30 plus years. I’m interested in medications, lab and imaging technologies, in tackling one of the most common complications in transplant kidney, which is acute and chronic rejection.

What first interested you in this field of research?

My interest in this field was sparked during my second year of internal medicine residency. I was working closely with now my mentor Dr. Rust, seeing a variety of transplant kidney patients on our service, dealing with patients’ non-compliance, difficult side effects from immunosuppression regimen, looking at transplant kidney biopsies, listening to patients’ stories, feeling their gratitude. I started to realize this is what I’m passionate about.

Can you briefly explain the research that lead to the CEoT 2024 Young Innovator award?

We started a protocol in our program where we started using cell-free DNA as an early marker of rejection, and at the same time, our transplant pathologist retired. So, we started using Molecular Transplant Biopsy Assessment (MMDx) which is an AI powered diagnostic tool. We started noticing an uptick in requiring PLEX therapy (treatment for acute rejection). We decided to look into it.

How will you continue to build on this research?

We plan to obtain data by the end of 2024 to get more patients and redo analysis. we also plan to look at the graft survival and outcome by using these protocols.


Maggie E. Jones-Carr Post-doctoral trainee at the University of Alabama, USA. 

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your research interests?

I am Maggie E. Jones-Carr, MD, a post-doctoral trainee at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Department of Surgery, Division of Transplantation, where I work under the expert mentorship of Dr. Jayme Locke. I am a general surgery resident from the University of Mississippi Medical center, where I will return to finish my training after my post-doctoral fellowship, then complete a clinical abdominal transplant surgery fellowship, with the ultimate goal of being a transplant surgeon-scientist. My specific work at UAB focuses on designing a novel approach to evaluate the role of implicit bias in medical decision-making. In the meantime, I have worked on several other projects, with topics ranging from surgical education, Artificial Intelligence in medicine, porcine xenotransplantation, novel pre-clinical human models, to disparities in kidney care. I am also working toward my Master’s in Public Health with a focus in Health Policy and Organization, which I plan to leverage to create more equitable organ allocation policies.

What first interested you in this field of research?

As a clinician, I became interested in transplantation when I was an intern on a busy transplant surgery rotation. Transplant science combines medical complexity, technical difficulty, collaboration, and innovation into one field—it includes all of the best parts of medicine. However, transplantable organs are a finite resource, and gender and race disparities persistently affect who has access to this lifesaving treatment. Creating a system that treats patients fairly is what keeps me up at night.

Can you briefly explain the research that lead to the CEoT 2024 Young Innovator award?

The specific research that I am presenting is on an immunosuppressive regimen for pig-to-human kidney xenotransplantation, an emerging solution to the organ shortage crisis. Establishing an appropriate immunosuppressive regimen in humans prior to clinical trials has been difficult. Non-human primate work, while important and contributory, has issues with species-specific immune differences. Our work leverages humans with brain death, the Parsons model, as a way to study an immunosuppressive regimen in humans prior to a clinical trial. The addition of a complement inhibitor, eculizumab, was found to prevent the formation of Membrane Attack Complex and subsequent thrombotic microangiopathy in our case series, leading us to believe that our immunosuppressive regimen will be effective in humans. Future work would be continuing this within the decedent model, to eventually translate it to humans within a clinical trial.

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