Transplantomics Conference Report

First-ever “Transplantomics” meeting which brought together disciplines in transplantation research in genomics, proteomics, informatics and clinical transplantation


The 1st International Conference on Transplantomics and Biomarkers in Organ Transplantation was held in San Francisco on February 24-26, 2010. Hosted by The Transplantation Society, and co-hosted by the Immunity, Transplant and Infection (ITI) Institute at Stanford University, the conference brought together myriad disciplines in transplantation research including genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics, informatics, next-generation sequencing technologies, imaging and clinical transplantation.

In the opening message at the conference, Jeremy Chapman, President of The Transplantation Society highlighted the advancements of transplantation biology over the past 60 years, along with two main challenges that lie ahead. First, rates of long-term graft survival are no different now than they were 30 years ago. And although mortality rates of those with transplants are reduced compared to those on dialysis, they are still significantly higher than the normal population. To address these challenges he proposed that this new decade of research may be the “era of individualized therapy.”

The Conference began with a well attended workshop, that exceeded registration projections, where key technologies in “omics” were reviewed by experts in academia and industry, followed by an exciting discussion session of novel and cutting edge applications, many of these being unpublished.

The conference Chair Minnie Sarwal, and Co-Chairs Atul Butte and Mark Davis, all from Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, highlighted the meeting as a way to bridge the gap between basic research and medical science to help unify and advance the nascent field of Transplantomics. It is clear that in order to go from bench to bedside, the current silos of data from individual labs need to give way to a more collaborative and progressive environment. To break down these walls, the conference featured 30 talks, most covering unpublished data, to cover a wide breadth of topics in transplantation biology and biomarker research. Representation of speakers from the FDA provided key insights into the processes necessary to develop and validate markers for clinical application. Mini-oral presentations and a poster session, in addition to these 6 main sessions of talks, served to provide even more opportunities for information and open discussion among attendees.

Individualized therapy was very much the focus of the conference. The prominent topic at the conference was the search for both diagnostic and predictive biomarkers for allograft dysfunction that could be used for personalized treatment of patients. A variety of other themes were also highlighted throughout the conference, including, but not limited to: the use of protocol and for-cause biopsies for microarray and histological analysis, the use of non-invasive methods for biomarker discovery, the pitfalls of relying solely on the “gold standard” criteria for biopsy classification, low cost and time efficient diagnostic and analysis tools, defining and identifying causative versus correlative biomarkers, and compiling/harnessing information in the public domain.

This first Transplantomics Meeting was very well received by the 180 attendees who highlighted that this meeting filled a critical unmet need to bridge the gap between translation of human high throughput discovery based studies to benefit the clinical care of the transplant patient. By popular vote, this new Transplantomics meeting will now be held annually, alternating locations within and outside the US. The second Transplantomics meeting will be held in sunny Barcelona in Spain in 2011. We hope to see many of you there!

– Minnie Sarwal, Chair