White House launches organ transplant initiative--including almost $200M in tech investment

President Obama has previously listed organ transplantation among his top priorities for scientific advancement in the U.S. Now, the White House is releasing a detailed roster of its actions to support organ donation--and the technology that enables it--at an Organ Summit it's holding June 14.

These include commitments for almost $200 million in investment to organ transplant R&D. In addition, the effort aims to improve the ratio of Americans registered as organ donors, which is only about 50%, although 95% of Americans say they support organ donation.

The White House expects that clinical research and innovation alone could increase the number of organ transplants by almost 2,000 annually. There are currently more than 120,000 Americans on the organ donation waiting list with only about 30,000 procedures getting done a year.

"America's progress in science and technology has countless revolutionary discoveries within our reach... New breakthroughs in treating cancer and ending the wait for organ transplants… That's some of what America can do," President Obama commented in May.

The almost $200 million in organ transplant R&D investment includes more than $160 million in public-private investment from the Department of Defense (DOD) for its new Advanced Tissue Biofabrication Manufacturing Innovation, which is tasked with the research and development of next-gen manufacturing techniques to create replacement cells and tissues that could lead to organ replacement.

It also includes another $7 million from the DOD for small businesses working to advance organ and tissue preservation technology; a $7 million XPRIZE challenge by The American Society of Nephrology (ASN) for kidney disease tech; an additional $15 million from The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF) for lung transplantation projects; and a $4.2 million grant from The Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF) aimed at testing donor intervention that can maximize the quantity and quality of available organs.

The White House also highlighted a number of specific research initiatives including a pilot program at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center that pairs families of active military service members to donate kidneys to patients at the hospital.

It also noted two more initiatives that are each expected to facilitate almost 1,000 more transplants annually: a data-sharing collaboration between 30 transplant centers to identify best practices for kidney transplants in hard-to-match patients and a Johns Hopkins University study, backed by the NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, to assess the protocols and potential for an HIV-positive organ donor pool for HIV-positive patients.

- here is the White House announcement
- and here is the DOD story on the Walter Reed pilot