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President Kröger's end-of-year message

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Dear EBMT members, friends and colleagues, 

Some of you were able to participate in this year’s Hybrid ASH Meeting and had the privilege of viewing the exciting progress in haematology, stem cell transplantation and CAR T-cell therapies which is continuing to transform the outcomes of our patients. It’s tremendous that more than 20 oral and poster presentations from EBMT were included in their scientific programme. I’m proud of our society’s worldwide reach and thank those who submitted an abstract to the upcoming Hybrid EBMT Annual Meeting.

At the beginning of 2021 vaccination against SARS CoV-2 picked up speed and we were optimistic that many of the barriers to the effective delivery of high quality transplant services across Europe would be resolved. We also hoped that it would be possible to safely attend meetings and conferences again in-person but a third and fourth COVID-19 wave has forced us to host the 3rd European CAR T-cell Meeting in February as well as the Annual EBMT Meeting in March as completely virtual events. It even forced us to postpone the ASTCT-EBMT Scientific Retreat until May 2022. Despite these restrictions the 2021 European CAR T-cell Meeting and the EBMT Annual Meeting were well attended and a major success.

Despite the ongoing pandemic and the restrictions we have all experienced, EBMT staff and membership have responded with admirable serenity and creativity this year to circumvent the hurdles that came about as we strived for our vision and our mission through science, education and advocacy.

The Infectious Disease Working Party continued to provide us regular and valuable guidance on vaccination, prevention and treatment strategies throughout the SARS CoV-2 pandemic. Their findings in collaboration with other EBMT Working Parties and many key opinion leaders were presented during an excellent three-day virtual EBMT Summit dedicated exclusively to SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 this past June. It is important to note that all other Working Parties have also increased their activity over this year and many have presented excellent educational events and/or courses available in the EBMT E-learning platform.

Within the organisation we moved forward by creating new and efficient department structures. This restructuring has allowed us to hire new talent and increase the power of the team.

The growing regulatory requirements, which differ substantially between the different European nations, and the proper implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has led to some delay in our CAR T-cell PAS studies and the implementation of a Joint Controller Agreement (JCA)  between member centres and EBMT. Only a proper signed JCA between a centre and EBMT allows us to include the corresponding patient within the numerous ongoing EBMT Registry studies. Thus, if you have not done so far, please sign the JCA for the EBMT Registry and the contract for the PAS studies.

Disappointingly, the EBMT Board had no choice but to stop the long lasting registry upgrade with MACRO due to insurmountable difficulties regarding the data migration from our prior ProMISe database. Fortunately, we are already in negotiation with a new vendor. More information will be provided in due course.

Two new EBMT Committees were also founded in 2021.

Recognising how seriously EBMT takes Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), in June 2021 EBMT Board members approved of a new EBMT EDI Committee tasked with addressing the ongoing inequalities in many aspects of patient care and broader issues.

In order to promote the next generation of transplanters and cellular therapists, EBMT Board members also decided to upgrade the former EBMT Young Ambassador Programme into the EBMT Trainee Committee which will focus on addressing the specific needs of trainees working in stem cell transplantation and cellular therapies. The EBMT Trainee Committee’s enormous enthusiasm can already be seen in the form of an outstanding podcast series and e-course named Chimera. Moreover, the Committee’s activities will be on display during dedicated Trainee Sessions at the 48th Annual Meeting of the EBMT Hybrid Edition or at the upcoming Virtual 4th European CAR T-cell Meeting.

The activity of the joint EBMT-EHA GoCART Coalition – promoting patient access to novel therapies and fostering multi-stakeholder collaboration regarding centre qualification, education and clinical data reporting – is moving forward nicely and has kicked off with a selection of scientific CAR T-cell projects from the EBMT Registry, a development of a governance charter and a Clinical Case Webinar Discussion Series on CAR T.

Now that 2021 is coming to an end, I want to thank all of you for your dedication and endless hard work during these challenging times. Whilst recognising that many of you will still be working and taking care of your patients during the holiday season, I hope you will still be able to find some rest and time with your families and loved ones.

On behalf of the entire EBMT society, I wish you safe Holidays and a happy and healthy New Year.

Yours truly,

Nicolaus Kröger
EBMT President