2015 IPITA Council Retreat Summary

ipita2015 retreat

The 2015 tripartite Congress with IXA and CTS in Melbourne, Australia from November 15-19 proved to be an enjoyable and highly successful meeting with a record 629 participants attending.

Prior to the Joint Congress, the IPITA Council held a very productive biennial retreat in nearby Flinders, Victoria on the Mornington Peninsula. After review of the strategic goals set at the 2013 retreat, the group took on a variety of issues critical to the health and future success of the Association.

Finances: The Association's reserves continue to grow; this is in part from a highly successful Key Opinion Leaders meeting in Oxford last year on the future of beta cell replacement. The outlook for the Association remains positive with a projected profit from the Melbourne Congress, a growing membership and ongoing financial review by the Council of annual expenses.

Young Investigators: An important new initiative of the Association is the development of a Young Investigators Committee. Formation of this group was championed by Peter Stock, who identified a talented cadre of young, energetic, and creative members to join the Committee who together will develop new initiatives to further our Association's goals. The Young Investigators have gotten off to an impressive start by developing a presence on social media with Facebook page and Twitter account and at the Congress hosting a debate and co-hosting a mini-oral abstract session and social event with the other Sections' Young Investigator Committees.

Membership: As a membership based Association, the growth and interests of our membership drive the direction of the Association. Although IPITA has steadily grown over recent years, we remain relatively small with 404 members. The Council consensus was the Association would benefit from increased membership and identified a number of countries of opportunity including areas in Asia and Latin America. This notion was consistent with the general agreement that we should work to extend international reach and activities of IPITA. To further develop membership expansion, the Membership taskforce will be reinvigorated as a Membership and Outreach Committee and better convey the value of membership through promotional materials.

SWOT Analysis: A large portion of the second day of discussions centered on an analysis of IPITA's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Many strengths were identified but most interesting was consideration of potential threats to the Association's future success. One major concern was the falling volume in whole organ pancreas transplantation over the last decade in the US and many countries around the world, despite improving outcomes. Understanding the reasons for this disconnect may generate solutions to expand the field. IPITA will be surveying the membership in the coming months as a first step in understanding and tackling this problem.

Another important initiative derived from the SWOT analysis is modifications of the committee structure over the coming year. This will both better align our committee work with the strategic direction of the society and to allow more members to be engaged in our activities. Key changes include: 1) renaming the membership committee to Membership and Outreach committee to capture is new role in cultivating membership from developing countries, 2) formation of an Allied Health Professionals committee, to recognize and expand our growing relationship with this group of providers, 3) formation of a Global affairs taskforce that will address major issues affecting pancreas and islet transplantation worldwide, 4) formation of a Bylaws task force that will handle needed Bylaw revisions and establish a policy manual on an ad hoc basis. The current list of committees and their chairs are:

  • Advocacy – Michael Rickels
  • Allied Health Professionals – Toni Radford & Rob Crookston
  • Bylaws and Policy – Lorenzo Piemonti
  • Communications – Thierry Berney
  • Education – Barbara Ludwig
  • Global Affairs – Tom Kay
  • Membership and Outreach – Raja Kandaswamy
  • Research – James Markmann
  • Senior Advisory Committee – Stephen Bartlett
  • Young Investigators Committee – Peter Stock

The redesign of existing and addition of new committees is a great opportunity for members to get more involved in IPITA. Look for your chance to apply for committee membership in the coming months.

Another deficiency identified in the whole organ pancreas arena is the absence of well-defined, standardized outcome measures for graft function and survival (for example, should it be normoglycemia, C peptide production, or A1c level, or some combination). An important IPITA initiative for 2016 is to hold a consensus workshop to codify pancreas outcome measures. Only with proper endpoints defined will rigorous scientific study be possible that will allow expansion of indications and increased volumes.

The other major threat discussed relates to nascent beta cell replacement therapies (stem cells, xenotransplants, artificial pancreas) and how they will infringe on the practice of pancreas and islet transplantation, as we know it today. Since progress in these areas is accelerating at an ever-quickening pace it seems inevitable that they will impact our current practices in the near term. With this in mind the Council concluded we need both to be prepared to adapt in the future, and to adopt into our ranks those studying other modes of beta cell replacement. This is consistent with our focus on beta cell replacement and will increase our scope scientifically and clinically and ultimately allow us to escape the limitation of a deceased donor organ supply. Aligned with this idea, IPITA is planning a Key Opinion Leaders meeting in 2016 in conjunction with the JDRF on the topic of stem cell derived beta cells. With our new President, Jon Odorico being an expert in this area, it is well timed and likely to gain IPITA our prominence in this exciting area.

Future Meetings: As mentioned above, IPITA is entertaining holding two workshops in the next year, one designed to develop a consensus on outcome measures for whole organ pancreas and the other to center on the current status of stem cell derived beta cells. Planning for the next IPITA World Congress is well underway: a strong local organizing team led by former president Paul Johnson who has been working diligently to prepare for IPITA 2017 in Oxford. A talented and experienced local organizing committee has been established, and a PCO identified. The meeting will be held June 20-23, 2017at the newly constructed Mathematics Institute in the heart of this historic English town. This should prove a fine setting that is easily accessible and filled with historic interest and local attractions.