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Committee Q & A

What do committees do?

Committees work to build consensus within the transplant community on policies that affect transplant patients nationwide. By studying evidence-based research, they work together to continually improve national transplant policy. Committee members are typically involved in one or both of the following activities:

  • Developing and refining policy or bylaws. Many committees specialize in one area of policy or bylaws (for example, heart and lung transplantation or organ recovery and transportation).  The committee studies needs for new policies or standards, as well as potential improvements to existing ones. The committee then may develop a policy proposal, send it for public comment, reconsider the proposal based on public input, and send a final recommendation to the OPTN Board of Directors  for final action.
  • Study, recommendations and outreach. Committees represent certain disciplines or constituencies (for example, medical ethics, living donor transplantation, or issues affecting minorities). They often consider policy proposals from other committees and offer comments reflecting the constituency they represent. Committees also may prepare resource documents and research studies, or work to improve transplant practice or awareness of key issues.

Some committees have more specialized functions. For example, the Membership and Professional Standards Committee conducts confidential peer review of OPTN member actions to ensure members are complying with OPTN standards.

Who serves on committees?

OPTN committee members are all volunteers, representing a variety of professional disciplines and personal expertise involved in organ transplantation. Committee members may be donation or transplant professionals, representatives of patient advocacy organizations, transplant candidates or recipients, living donors, donor families, and/or members of the general public with particular interest and expertise in transplant-related issues.

Committee members serve in one of four roles: Chair, Vice Chair, Regional Representative, or At-Large Representative. View committee members now.

Committee chairs and Vice chairs
Committee Chairs inform the OPTN President and the Executive Director of the activities of their committees and report to the Board of Directors upon request.

Qualifications for committee chairs include, but are not limited to, demonstrated participation in the activities of an OPTN geographic region and/or committee, leadership and consensus-building ability, and expertise or experience within the specific committee's area.

Recommendations for committee chairs and vice chairs come from previous committee chairs and members and UNOS staff, as well as input from transplant related organizations.

How do I indicate my interest in serving on a committee?

  • If you are a transplant professional, contact your regional administrator.
  • If you are a member of the general public (patient, recipient, living donor, or donor family) learn more about the process and access the OPTN/UNOS biography form. If you have questions, call the Patient Services line at 888-894-6361.

Regional representatives

Regional representatives provide the input from their OPTN geographic region and communicate committee activities back to the region.  Each standing committee must have a representative from each of the OPTN geographic regions.  (A few committees are "ad hoc" and will not necessarily have a representative from each region.)  The majority of regional representatives are transplant professionals.

Regional representatives are expected to attend all committee meetings (held two-three times per year, commonly  in Chicago), represent the region during committee deliberations, attend regional meetings (held in the spring and fall), provide updates on committee activities and present public comment proposals during regional meetings, and provide feedback received at regional meetings to the committee.

Regional representative nominations are submitted to Regional Nominating Committees, who will review biography forms and make recommendations to the incoming OPTN/UNOS President.

The regional representative recommendations are based on an individual's professional experience, their willingness to serve, the needs of the committee for subject specific expertise, and the individual's ability to represent the region nationally. Each Regional Nominating Committee strives to maintain a geographical balance of committee representatives within the region.

If you are interested in serving as a regional representative please contact your regional administrator.

Find your regional contact.

At-large representatives

An at-large member or representative represents the general membership or the public on issues of interest or concern. An at-large member of a committee may also be appointed to provide a certain type of expertise to the committee.

At-large representative nominations are submitted to the Committee Liaison, who will work with the committee chair and/or vice chair to  review the biography forms and make recommendations to the incoming OPTN/UNOS President. At-large recommendations will be based on staffing needs, specific areas of expertise that relates to a current or future committee project. If you are interested in serving as an At-large representative, contact the appropriate committee liaison.

How are committee members selected?

OPTN/UNOS committee chairs and vice chairs, UNOS staff and Regional Nominating Committees consider all potential nominees during the first quarter of the year. Each April a proposed roster is presented to the  incoming OPTN/UNOS President for review and approval. The review process takes into consideration staffing needs of the particular committee, experience in the transplant field and if the nominee's background addresses a particular areas of expertise. The incoming OPTN/UNOS President will make the final appointments. All nominees will receive notification regarding the outcome of the selection process.

Note: Since committee terms run from two to three years, there are a limited number of openings on a yearly basis. 

What happens if I'm not initially selected to serve on a committee?

Your biography form will be kept on file and considered for other potential openings in the future. You are welcome to submit an updated form if your contact information changes or if you gain additional experience or accomplishments that relate to your interest in serving.

What are the time and travel commitments for committee members?

The specific time and travel commitments will vary according to the role and structure of the committee, but most committee members could expect all-day commitments two to four times a year and additional contribution of a few hours per month.

Most committees meet in person two to three times each year, commonly in Chicago, Illinois, because of its central geographic location. Most meetings are one-day commitments; members who must travel some distance to the meeting may need to plan an additional overnight stay before or afterward.

In addition, committee members are usually expected to participate in conference calls (monthly for a number of committees, more or less often for others) and communicate via e-mail or other Internet-based forums. While many of the conference calls take place on a regular schedule, a committee may have to convene a call on short notice to address a time-sensitive issue.

Many committees have subcommittees or working groups, where committee members volunteer to do additional work and report their activities and recommendations back to the full committee.

Is there any compensation for committee service? If not, what expenses are covered?

All committee members are volunteers and receive no compensation. However, expenses are covered for travel, lodging and meal costs directly associated with committee meetings.

Airfare and lodging are typically arranged on a master bill, so the member would not need to pay directly unless special arrangements must be made. The member can submit a reimbursement request for meals, mileage or other expenses directly related to the meeting or travel.

Do I need references to be considered for committee service?

It is always helpful to provide references for your consideration for available openings. They do not need to follow a specific format and could address a variety of experiences or qualifications, including but not limited to:

  • your experience with organ donation or transplantation
  • previous positions of public trust you have held
  • previous service on/leadership of organizations, societies or committees (professional, clinical, governmental, educational, social service, etc.)
  • employment experience, especially as it relates to public service, strategic planning, patient/client care or research