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UAB faculty hold two key, national transplant leadership roles

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It is rare that the two largest transplantation societies choose two leaders from the same institution. But this year, University of Alabama at Birmingham nephrologist Vineeta Kumar, M.D., and transplant surgeon Jayme Locke, M.D., MPH, have been named councilors at-large for the American Society of Transplantation and the American Society of Transplant Surgeons, respectively.

UAB is one of the busiest transplant centers in the nation, performing more than 400 transplants each year across all organ groups and has the nation’s longest kidney chain. Together, the two physicians now claim a significant stake in influencing not only the direction of their respective organizations, but also key transplant policies across the nation. 

Kumar, who is a professor of medicine in the UAB Division of Nephrology, is one of three new AST members elected as councilor at-large and member of the AST Board of Directors. 

“The central purpose of AST is improving human life by advancing the field of transplantation. Improving the lives of our patients, their caregivers and our donors is a primary driver for most everything I do in my professional life,” Kumar said. “It is truly an honor to be elected, and I look forward to furthering the many missions of AST, for both the membership and the patients, caregiver and donor community through our efforts of advocacy, education and service.”

Locke is professor of surgery and director of the UAB Division of Transplantation. She will serve as one of three elected councilors at-large to represent the ASTS. In her new role, Locke will establish and approve policies and procedures for the conduct of ASTS, ensure the necessary resources for the operation of ASTS and its programs, and represent the interests and needs of ASTS programs across the country.

“It will be my personal charge to use my new role as an opportunity to promote equitable organ transplantation across the nation,” Locke said. “Ensuring equitable access is key, especially for rural populations of Alabama whom the UAB Comprehensive Transplant Institute serves every day. It is important that we give every transplant patient a voice.” 

Kumar is the Robert C. Bourge and Cutessa D. Bourge Endowed Professor in Transplant Nephrology. She was recognized for her academic medical leadership with the 2020 Brewer-Heslin Endowed Award for Professionalism in Medicine and the 2019 UAB President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. Kumar has been a Castle Connolly Top Doctor in Medicine and Nephrology since 2012, and she was an appointed consultant for the State of Alabama’s Chronic Kidney Disease Task Force in 2014.

Locke is the Arnold G. Diethelm Endowed Chair in Transplantation Surgery and director of the Division of Transplantation at UAB. She is the director of the UAB Comprehensive Transplant Institute. She is the recipient of numerous honors, including the American Society of Transplantation Clinical Science Investigator Award 2020, Association for Clinical & Translational Science Distinguished Investigator Award: Translation into Public Benefit and Policy 2018, and the Birmingham Business Journal’s Top 40 under 40 Award 2015, and was named one of AL.com’s 2015 Women Who Shape the State. She has received more than $10.5 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health over the last four years.