AST Happenings

Welcome to the AST TxPharm COP Website!

The AST Transplant Pharmacy Community of Practice was established in 2009 and is the fifth largest COP within AST with over 600 members. The goal of this COP is to provide a forum for transplant pharmacists and other professionals to network, exchange thoughts, share resources, collaborate on best practice solutions, develop research ideas, participate in educational activities, and promote the practice of transplant pharmacy. We encourage all individuals interested in transplant pharmacy to join this dynamic and growing community.

If you have any suggestions on how we can improve our online community OR if you want to be featured in the member spotlight, please email Elisabeth Kincaide at Elisabeth.Kincaide@uhs-sa.com.

Executive Committee 2021-2022

Chair: Barrett Crowther (2023)
Co-Chair: Amanda Szczepanik (2023)
Past Chair: David Taber (2023)
Board Liaison: Marie Chisholm-Burns (2022)

Mary Chandran (2022)
Tiffany Kaiser (2022)
Elisabeth Kincaide (2022)
Matt Harris (2023)
Jennifer McDermott (2023)
Early Career Member-at-Large: Emily Sartain (2022)

Anne Kreiss (AST Staff Liaison) –akreiss@myAST.org

TxPharm COP – Survey Dissemination Policy

If you want to solicit feedback on a survey through the TxPharm COP discussion board, it needs approval first. Please email Barrett Crowther or Amanda Szczepanik with the survey, and they will facilitate the approval process. Unapproved surveys will be deleted from the discussion board.

Circle of Excellence

AST TxPharm COP 

AST TxPharm COP Videos

Member Spotlight

James Fleming, PharmD, FCCP, FAST

Describe your current position

I am currently a Medical Science Liaison for Transplant Genomics, a part of Eurofins Transplant Diagnostics. It is a company started by the collaboration of a kidney transplant patient and transplant clinician-scientists who desired a method to identify patients with subclinical rejection or inflammation before irreversible damage to the allograft occurs. The primary products in the portfolio right now are TruGraf gene expression profile and TRAC dd-cfDNA, which are currently in commercial use for kidney transplants, and will be available in liver transplant soon.

Describe your education/training for this job

I got my PharmD at the University of Iowa in 2006, did a PGY1 residency at UMass Memorial Medical Center, and was the inaugural PGY2 in SOT at MUSC, finishing my training in 2008. After that, I worked at Henry Ford Hospital as a transplant clinical specialist across all organs until 2012, when I took a job as a clinical specialist in SOT at MUSC. In 2015, I entered a scope of work agreement with the Department of Surgery at MUSC and funded 80% of my salary via research grants, while maintaining 20% of my time for clinical care and trainee development. In 2019, I entered the biomarker space and took my current position in November of 2020.

What inspired you to become a transplant pharmacist?

I was first inspired by the time I spent in the transplant rotation in my P4 year of pharmacy school at the University of Iowa, with Dave Thomsen and Eric Whitaker. I enjoyed the exposure to critical care, post-surgical care, and internal medicine and the relationship that the transplant pharmacists built with the patients and their families. Working with Sarah Todd, who was at UMass during my PGY1, piqued my interest even further, as I saw firsthand the dedication that she had to ensure that patients received the care and medications that they needed. During my PGY2 at MUSC, I was exposed to a variety of approaches to care through the preceptors I learned from: Dave Taber, Nicole Pilch, and Walt Uber, among others; this is where the importance and impact of the transplant pharmacist in clinic really hit home. After several years in practice and learning from colleagues and mentors about the importance of clinical outcome-based research/QI to improve processes and patient care, I was intrigued at the emergence of biomarkers and the opportunity to be involved in the development of a panel that could help provide dynamic information to assist in transplant patient care.

What do you think is the most valuable trait in a person?

Character. While this may have several definitions, I define it simply as the kind of person who will attempt to do the next right thing, even if it is at the expense of not achieving a desired outcome, as compared to a person that does whatever they think is necessary to achieve the outcome they desire. Obviously no one is perfect, and we all get sidetracked or selfish sometimes, but trying to be a person that generally lives with character is important to me.

What are you most proud of?

Probably the thing that I’m most proud of overall is learning to work so that I can have a life instead of making work my life. I tell my family that they are the most important thing in my life, so I try to act that way. Professionally, I would say that the thing I’m most proud of right now is the opportunity I had to be involved with the TRANSAFE Rx mHealth R18 project that Dave Taber led and had main outcomes published in CJASN recently. The other project that I’ve been proud of is the multidisciplinary, multimodal opioid minimization post-transplant pain regimen and educational initiative at MUSC that has reduced post-transplant opioid use significantly.

What chore do you absolutely hate doing?

Changing the cat litter box. I’m not a huge fan of cats as it is, and ours is particularly messy and stinky.

Where did you grow up?

North central Illinois in a farm town of approximately 2000 souls called Amboy.

When was the last time you turned your mobile phone completely off?

Montana, November 2020. I was in the middle of nowhere with no cell service and it was fantastic.

Member Spotlight

Nadia Hellenga, PharmD, BCPS
Describe your current position

I am the clinical pharmacist specialist at the ChristianaCare Kidney Transplant Program, Newark, DE.  I became the first transplant clinical pharmacist in the state of Delaware when our program opened in 2006 and was able to build my pharmacy services into the multidisciplinary team from the beginning.   I follow patients throughout their entire transplant journey starting with seeing them during their evaluation visit, then rounding on and educating them during their transplant inpatient admission, and continue to see them during their post-transplant clinic visits.  I have the best of both worlds - working both inpatient and in ambulatory care.

Describe your education/training for this job

I received my PharmD degree from Albany College of Pharmacy in Albany, NY and completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency (before they were called PGY1s!) at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, in Hershey, PA.  I had already developed an interest in transplant and was fortunate to select many transplant and transplant-related elective rotations during my residency.  I worked at ChristianaCare as an internal medicine clinical pharmacist, but continued to nourish my interest in all things kidney and transplant by helping to develop our pharmacist-led renal dosing program and following any interesting transplant and renal cases in the health system.  I was thrilled when our organization was developing the transplant program and I was able to move into my current role.

What inspired you to become a transplant pharmacist?

My friend went into kidney failure, and later received a kidney transplant, during my formative years of pharmacy school.  Since transplant was a disease state that was barely covered in our curriculum, I took it upon myself to learn as much about it as I could.  It was fascinating!  When I discovered that pharmacists could have a role in the care of a transplant patient, I knew this is what I wanted to do!

What do you think is the most valuable trait in a person?

Flexibility and the ability to trouble-shoot. If you run into a problem, you can find a way to solve it.

What are you most proud of?

Professionally, I am most proud of developing a pharmacy service that is so integrated into a multi-disciplinary team. Personally, I am proud of being able to find a balance between work, motherhood, marriage, and still have some time for hobbies and fun.

What chore do you absolutely hate doing?

Washing dishes – they are never-ending!

What is your favorite thing to do on weekends?

I love to garden.  It is so satisfying to plant a tiny seed and watch it develop into something beautiful or something edible.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Vestal, a town in upstate New York just outside of Binghamton.   Now, living in (fairly flat) Delaware, I miss the mountains and rolling hills that I always thought was “normal” landscape. 

If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would do?

The first thing? - I would probably scream and do a happy dance! After that, I’d likely pay off my mortgage, set up my kids’ college accounts, then go on trip around the world.


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