The Vector

Volume 9, Issue 6: June 2020


Editorial Team

Edith Pfister, Ph.D. – Editor, The Vector
Karen Bulaklak, Ph.D. – Associate Editor, The Vector

Inside This Issue

Leadership Message
A Statement of Solidarity
Society News
Career Center
Public Policy
Industry News

Leadership Message

An Unprecedented Time in History

Hello everyone,

I’m honored and very enthusiastic to begin serving my term as ASGCT President, and I thank our members for providing me this opportunity. As we’re experiencing an unprecedented time in history, I must start this message by acknowledging the Society’s commitment to justice. We cannot stand in silence as we continue to witness examples of systemic racism towards black people in this country. ASGCT is committed to advocating for positive and effective change for our black colleagues and the black community at large. Please read our Statement of Solidarity in its entirety below, and feel free to reach out with any thoughts, questions, or suggestions.

I also want to let you know how proud I am of the success of our first-ever virtual meeting last month. If you attended the 23rd Annual Meeting, then you saw all of the cutting-edge work on display that shows how far our field has come and where we’re headed. (If you didn’t attend, please visit the ASGCT blog to read recaps from members of our Communications Committee). Thank you so much to our presenters, members, board officers, and staff for making this meeting the largest event in ASGCT history—we welcomed an incredible 6,200 attendees! I hope the knowledge you gained at the meeting has reinvigorated your commitment to gene and cell therapy, and that it will be valuable to you as you return to your own lab in the (hopefully) near future.

Obviously COVID-19 has changed the landscape for all of us. As noted above, it certainly forced us to discover some of the potential advantages of a virtual Annual Meeting, including lower travel costs, the ability to jump between parallel sessions, lively/protracted Q and A after the talks, and higher attendance at lunchtime technology showcase presentations. But more significantly, it has driven many of you to redirect your creative energies (and technologies) to develop novel gene and cell-based approaches to the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention (through vaccination) of SARS-CoV-2 infection. I am therefore very pleased to announce that the first significant Society event during my presidency will be a symposium on COVID-19. More information will be available in the coming weeks. We hope to “see” you there.

Meanwhile, I hope you and your loved ones are staying safe and well.

 

Sincerely,

Stephen J. Russell, M.D., Ph.D.
ASGCT President

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A Statement of Solidarity

The American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy is the primary professional organization for the development of genetic and cellular therapies to treat human disease. As our mission has always been to improve the human condition, we cannot remain immobile in the face of disturbing injustice perpetuating within our country and society.

The abhorrent killings of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Breonna Taylor in Louisville, and Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, the false accusation of violence leveled at Christian Cooper in New York and countless other examples have ignited protests around the world to express outrage at police brutality, lack of justice, and systemic anti-black racism that has been evident for centuries. This racism perpetuates social and economic inequalities and oppresses people of color,especially black Americans. We demand equitable community policing policies, increased transparency, and accountability, particularly in cases of police-involved murders and uses of deadly force.

Systemic racism is also evident in research and healthcare systems. It is resounding in the COVID-19 crisis where people of color are disproportionately killed. As scientists and physicians, we must advocate for positive and effective change.  

We commit ourselves to justice and recognize the need to abolish systemic racism in the community, research, and healthcare. To our black colleagues and the black community, we see you, we hear you, and we are listening. We are committed to supporting policies and practices that ensure laboratories, offices, and hospitals are safe spaces to work and innovate. As members of our society and our community, you deserve equal protection under the law and true social and economic equality.

Black Lives Matter.

In solidarity,
ASGCT

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Society News


Read Our 2020 Annual Meeting Coverage

If you didn't attend #ASGCT20, our first-ever virtual Annual Meeting and the largest in the Society's history, our Communications Committee has you covered. Here is a roundup of some of the highlights of the 2020 Annual Meeting:

The New Look of the Presidential Symposium

Early Data Demonstrate Strengths of Gene Therapy Approaches for Sanfilippo Syndrome

What Was it Like to Attend ASGCT's First Virtual Meeting?

Clinical Highlights: Echoes from the Future of Gene Therapy

Seeing Ocular Gene Therapy with New Eyes

Congratulations to all of our Annual Meeting award winners! Winners of the Excellence in Research Awards, the Meritorious and Underrepresented Minority Travel Awards, and the Outstanding Poster Awards are all listed here.

Congratulations to ASGCT Member Alessandro Aiuti

Alessandro Aiuti, M.D., Ph.D., has received the prestigious Else Kröner Fresenius Prize for Medical Research in the field of genome editing and gene therapy for his work on the advancement of therapies for immunodeficiencies and other genetic diseases. The award honors researchers who have made significant scientific contributions to the field and whose work in the future can be expected to yield groundbreaking findings. You can read more on our blog.

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Career Center


Are you looking for a job in the field of gene and cell therapy? Check out the new ASGCT Career Center and sign up to receive alerts for open jobs in your area.

If you're from a recruiting institution, advertise in the Featured Jobs section to target the 4,000+ audience of The Vector.

Featured Jobs

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Public Policy


CMS Proposes Modified Methodology for Determining CAR-T Reimbursement

Last month, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued the Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) proposed rule for the 2021 fiscal year. In the rule, CMS recommended that clinical trial claims for the therapy, evidenced by charges less than the average sales price of the biologic, would not be included when calculating the average cost for a proposed new MS-DRG (Medicare Severity-Diagnosis Related Group) for the therapy. If the proposal is finalized, this methodology would more adequately reimburse for CAR T-cell therapy provided outside of a clinical trial than the typical rate-setting methodology would have. Due to differences in reimbursement mechanisms, fewer centers currently provide the therapy for Medicare patients, who travel an average of 50 percent further compared to commercially insured patients to access CAR-T treatments.

While many providers of CAR T-cell therapy will still incur losses, CMS’ divergence from typical rate-setting methodology will be a significant step, if finalized, toward improving reimbursement mechanisms. ASGCT has advocated for more sufficient reimbursement levels to providers for these unique, high-value therapies for the past two years to maximize patient access. The Society will further analyze and comment on the proposed rule by the July 10 deadline. CMS will finalize the rule on September 1.

Save the Date for the Annual ASGCT Policy Summit

The 2020 ASGCT Policy Summit will be held September 23-25. The goal of the summit is to discuss key policy challenges and opportunities in the development of, access to, and responsible use of gene and cell therapies. New this year: We're offering a special rate for ASGCT Associate Members! Keynote speakers will include:

  • Michelle McMurry-Heath, M.D., Ph.D., President and CEO of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO)
    Science as Social Justice, Scientists as Crusaders for Truth
     
  • Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the FDA Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER)
    Streamlining Development: Parent-Child and Platform Programs

More speakers will be confirmed in the coming weeks and registration will open in early July. Please check back on our website for more information.

Industry News


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2022

ASGCT 25th Annual Meeting

May 16-19, 2022

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