Dear Fellow ASGCT Members,
As the summer comes to a close, our Society and field are truly beginning to build momentum. In July we were all encouraged to learn that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) backed approval of a gene therapy to treat lipoprotein lipase deficiency. If the European Commission follows the recommendation of the EMA, we could see the very first approved gene therapy in the western hemisphere. Visit asgct.org for a link to the New York Times article and a Society press release on the National Institutes of Health’s contribution to this new therapeutic.
In an effort to capitalize on the enthusiasm surrounding the European gene therapy progress and promote investment in gene and cell therapy in the United States, leaders from ASGCT will be visiting the NIH campus to hold individual meetings with eleven NIH Institutes and two NIH Offices.
As we prepare our agenda for each of these important meetings, we would like to hear from you, the membership. In early October you will receive an email that contains a link to a survey. We will be requesting your thoughts on the regulatory and funding issues that most impact your research and how you think the NIH can address these issues. I hope you will take the time to complete this survey with suggested agenda items. We will follow up with the results of our meetings when we return.
One area that we will be sure to discuss with each NIH Institute and Office is funding of gene and cell therapies. Earlier this month, the ASGCT Board of Directors approved a white paper laying a case for the inclusion of gene and cell therapies as small molecule and biologic modalities for purposes of funding from the Therapeutics for Rare and Neglected Diseases (TRND) Program within the National Center for the Advancement of Translational Science (NCATS) Division of Pre-Clinical Innovation. We will be sure to keep you informed of any progress from our recent white paper. You may view the white paper on the ASGCT website.
The also Board recently approved a series of Bylaws amendments that would (1) restructure our election procedures to allow for broader representation on the Board and (2) expand our membership classes to provide discounts to researchers from developing countries and to researchers in transitional and early phases of their careers. Please vote today on these important amendments. We must have 20% of the Active Membership vote in order to see these important changes made to the structure of the Society. Please be sure to vote today in the Members Only section of the ASGCT website.
Lastly, the ASGCT Committees are beginning the planning phases of the Annual Meeting program. Please be sure to submit your suggestions for speakers and topics. Also, be sure to volunteer to review abstracts and serve on ASGCT Committees. You can volunteer and submit your program suggestions online in the Get Involved section of asgct.org.
Hopefully I will see many of you at the ASGCT/ESGCT Clinical Trials Training Course in France in October. Registration is open through the ESGCT website. Be sure to sign up today!
Xandra O. Breakefield, PhD