American Society of Hematology

2017 General Sessions

These signature sessions are designed to be of interest to a broad and diverse audience and include the prestigious Plenary Scientific Session, Best of ASH, and the Presidential Symposium. Many of the General Sessions also honor distinguished leaders in the field through awards and special lectures.

Ham-Wasserman Lecture

AL Amyloidosis: From Molecular Mechanisms to Targeted Therapies

Saturday, December 9, 2017, 12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Georgia World Congress Center, Bldg C- Lvl 1- Hall C2-C3

The hallmark of amyloidosis is the deposition in body tissues of protein fibrils associated with organ dysfunction. The most frequent type of systemic amyloidosis is AL amyloidosis, a rare disease caused by a small, dangerous B cell clone that produces misfolded light chains which form amyloid deposits, thus causing rapid deterioration of organ function. In this lecture, Dr. Giampaolo Merlini will discuss the advances in understanding the multifaceted molecular mechanisms of amyloid disease and the complexity of its management. The distinct biology of the amyloidogenic clone and its vulnerability to specific drugs will be presented together with genetic changes that modulate treatment response. Dr. Merlini will outline the vital importance of early diagnosis, when target organ damage is still recoverable, following intervention. Furthermore, he will describe the central role of cardiac biomarkers in the management of AL amyloidosis – from diagnosis to risk stratification and assessment of response to therapy. The complexity and pitfalls of the diagnostic procedure will be illustrated. Patients are fragile and highly sensitive to treatment toxicity, requiring a risk-adapted approach which will be discussed in the context of several effective anti-clone drugs and regimens now available. Early cardiac death still occurs in nearly one-third of very high-risk patients and is a major, unresolved clinical problem. Novel drugs are enriching the therapeutic landscape, and immunotherapies aimed at accelerating the reabsorption of amyloid deposits are under evaluation in several clinical trials. The future lies in combination therapy, with anti-clone therapy combined with newer treatments holding promise of further improving survival in this very treatable disease.

Speaker:

Giampaolo Merlini, MD
Fondazione IRCCS Policlinico San Matteo
Pavia, Italy
Amyloidosis

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ASH-EHA Joint Symposium

Clinical Significance of Clonal Hematopoiesis

Sunday, December 10, 2017, 12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Georgia World Congress Center, Bldg C- Lvl 1- Hall C2-C3

Recent genetic analyses of large populations have identified somatic mutations in hematopoietic cells and clonal expansion, which is acquired and correlated with aging. This clonally restricted hematopoiesis is associated with an increased risk of myeloid or lymphoid neoplasms as well as increased cardiovascular and all-cause mortality. This symposium will update the audience on this topic and provide expert opinions on the biologic significance and potential clinical implications of these clonal abnormalities in hematology practice.

Co-Chairs:

Kenneth C. Anderson, MD
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Boston, MA

Pieter Sonneveld, MD, PhD
Erasmus Medical Center Rotterdam
Rotterdam, Netherlands

Speakers:

Benjamin L. Ebert, MD, PhD
Brigham and Women's Hospital
Boston, MA
North American Perspective

George S. Vassiliou, MD, PhD
Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Hinxton
Cambridge, United Kingdom
European Perspective

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Announcement of Awards: ASH Mentor Awards, ASH Award for Leadership in Promoting Diversity, ASH Outstanding Service Award, ASH Public Service Award, and Wallace H. Coulter Award for Lifetime Achievement in Hematology

Sunday, December 10, 2017, 1:30 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Georgia World Congress Center, Bldg C- Lvl 1- Hall C2-C3

ASH Mentor Award

The ASH Mentor Award was established to recognize hematologists who have excelled in mentoring trainees and colleagues. Each year the Society recognizes two outstanding mentors drawn from the areas of basic science, clinical investigation, education, or clinical/community care who have had a significant, positive impact on their mentees' careers and, through their mentees, have advanced research and patient care in the field of hematology.

Ronald Hoffman, MD, is currently the Albert A. and Vera G. List Professor of Medicine, Director of the Myeloproliferative Diseases Research Program, and Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology-Oncology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. Dr. Hoffman was nominated for the ASH Mentor Award by the Nominations and Awards Committee of the Department of Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, who noted that his greatest legacy resides in his devotion to the cause of mentoring. Dr. Hoffman decisively shaped the careers of 33 fellows or junior faculty, many of them rising to positions of great prominence within academic medical centers, some who are now leaders of Divisions and Departments. His mentees attest to the essential role he has played, and continues to play, in their careers. Dr. Hoffman has been a very active member of ASH and during his tenure as ASH President, he helped to establish the Minority Recruitment Initiative that has led to retention and mentoring of many underrepresented minorities in hematology and serves as the foundation of ASH's dedication to diversifying the field.

Oliver W. Press, MD, PhD, is Professor of Medicine and Adjunct Professor of Bioengineering at University of Washington. He also serves as the Acting Senior Vice President at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington. Dr. Press has a long and consistent history of impacting the careers of a large number of mentees. He has mentored over 70 pre- and post-doc fellows and medical students since 1980s and remains committed to their career development, which he sees as a continuing process. His mentees uniformly cite his exceeding generosity of time and his dedication to his mentorship activities having positively influenced them. Dr. Press has played a large role in advancing his mentees' careers, many have successfully received career development grants and have gone on to become leaders in academic medicine and pharmaceutical companies. He is also cited for the value he places on work-life balance, patients, personal connections and the importance of professionalism. Dr. Press has been working with the mentoring committee at his institution to develop a sustainable and enduring mentoring infrastructure at his center.

ASH Award for Leadership in Promoting Diversity

The ASH Award for Leadership in Promoting Diversity honors hematologists who have supported the development of an inclusive hematology workforce, who have encouraged the career development of underrepresented minority trainees, or who have made the commitment to inclusiveness in contributions to the mission of ASH.

The inaugural ASH Award for Leadership in Promoting Diversity will be awarded to Betty Pace, MD, of Augusta University. Dr. Pace is Professor of Pediatrics, Biochemistry, and Molecular Biology, the Frances Tedesco Chair, Interim Chief of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, and the Director of the Sickle Cell Program. She is a physician scientist and prominent national figure in sickle cell disease research who has dedicated countless hours to mentoring and promoting diversity in hematology research for more than two decades. From early in her career, she worked to attract students from high schools and undergraduate programs to biomedical research. She has since created a talent pipeline of trainees, especially from underrepresented groups, to further diversify the workforce. Among the 80 individuals trained in the Pace Lab, 45 percent have been underrepresented minorities, including African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans. Additionally, sixty percent of her publications and reviews have included minority trainees and collaborators. Dr. Pace has worked extensively for ASH as a mentor for the Minority Medical Student Award Program (MMSAP) and member of the Committee on Promoting Diversity. 

ASH Outstanding Service Award

The Outstanding Service Award is presented to an individual who has worked tirelessly to raise public awareness and increase research funding for hematologic diseases. 

Tom Brokaw

The 2017 recipient of the ASH Outstanding Service Award is former NBC Nightly News anchor, Tom Brokaw, for his dedication to increasing public awareness about cancer and the need for additional research funding since his diagnosis with multiple myeloma. Mr. Brokaw has shared his personal cancer experience in his book A Lucky Life Interrupted and in essays in The New York Times and other publications, providing an example not only for patients, but also for their families, of how to best deal with their disease. He has also shared his story at numerous events throughout the country, listening to the stories of countless patients and helping them acquire access to specialized care.

ASH Public Service Award

The ASH Public Service Award is presented annually to an elected public official who has demonstrated unparalleled leadership on issues of importance to hematology research and/or practice.

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.

Prior to becoming the 47th Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden represented the state of Delaware in the U.S. Senate for 36 years. Following the death of his son from brain cancer, Vice President Biden led the Obama Administration's Cancer Moonshot to accelerate cancer research. Under his leadership, the White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force catalyzed collaborations among 20 government agencies, departments, and White House offices and more than 70 private sector collaborations designed to achieve a decades' worth of progress in five years in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer. In 2017, President Obama presented Vice President Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom with distinction for his service to the United States, including his leadership on the Cancer Moonshot effort. Vice President Biden has pledged to continue his efforts to support cancer research and the Moonshot through the Biden Foundation, which he and his wife founded after leaving public service in January 2017.

Wallace H. Coulter Award for Lifetime Achievement in Hematology

Wallace H. Coulter was a prolific inventor, innovator, and entrepreneur. His Coulter Principle pioneered the development of flow cytometry, defined particle characterization, and made possible automated hematology, thus revolutionizing laboratory medicine. The Coulter Counter led to major breakthroughs in science, medicine, and industry. This award, in his name, recognizes an individual who has demonstrated a lasting commitment to the field of hematology through outstanding contributions to education, research, and practice.

The 2017 Wallace H. Coulter Award for Lifetime Achievement in Hematology will recognize Marshall A. Lichtman, MD, of University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. Dr. Lichtman is internationally renowned as an educator, mentor, and researcher and is revered as a compassionate, extremely knowledgeable and skillful physician and teacher. He is consulted frequently for advice on the diagnosis or management of the most complex hematologic problems. The breadth of his expertise is documented in his 375 publications, which include a broad reach of observations in the leukemias, lymphomas, hemolytic anemias, and other blood cell disorders. His 30 years of research funding encompassed studies of blood cell membrane biochemistry and physiology, blood cell ionic and amino acid transport, hemoglobin function, hematopoiesis, blood rheology, and leukocyte physiology and pathophysiology. His research articles appeared in high impact journals and he presented his work at an ASH Presidential Symposium in the 1970s.

Co-Chair:

Kenneth C. Anderson, MD
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Boston, MA

Speakers:

Ronald Hoffman, MD
Mount Sinai School of Medicine
New York, NY

Marshall A. Lichtman, MD
University of Rochester
Rochester, NY

Oliver W. Press, MD, PhD
University of Washington
Seattle, WA

Betty S. Pace, MD
Augusta University
Augusta, GA

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Plenary Scientific Session

Sunday, December 10, 2017, 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Georgia World Congress Center, Bldg C- Lvl 1- Hall C2-C3

During this highlight of the annual meeting, attendees will hear the presentations of the highest-caliber scientific abstracts selected by the Program Committee from among the thousands submitted from around the world. back to top

E. Donnall Thomas Lecture and Prize

The Molecular Pathology of Pediatric Acute Leukemia

Monday, December 11, 2017, 9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.
Georgia World Congress Center, Bldg C- Lvl 1- Hall C2-C3

Over the past 50 years, remarkable progress has been made in our understanding of the molecular genetics that underlie pediatric acute leukemia. This information has come from a variety of different lines of investigation, including cytogenetics and genomic sequencing efforts to identify the underlying lesions, as well as functional studies in cellular and murine model systems to characterize the biological consequences of the identified genetic alterations. The detailed understanding that has emerged from these studies has served as the foundation for efforts to individualize treatment so that each child with leukemia has the best possible chance for a cure.

Although our understanding of the landscape of somatic and germline mutations underlying acute leukemia has rapidly progressed, it remains incomplete. Moreover, why some patients respond to current therapeutic approaches and are cured, whereas others relapse and ultimately succumb to their disease remains a mystery. Fortunately, recent advancements in our ability to sequence leukemias at both a population and a single cell level are beginning to shed light on the diverse mechanisms that can lead to refractory disease. This lecture will focus on the progress that has been made over the last 15 years in advancing our understanding of pediatric acute leukemia and the impact this information is having on our ability to further increase cure rates.

James R. Downing, MD, was nominated for the E. Donnall Thomas Lecture and Prize based on a body of work related to the hematopathology and molecular biology of childhood leukemia, particularly acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Speaker:

James R. Downing, MD
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Memphis, TN
The Molecular Pathology of Pediatric Acute Leukemia

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Ernest Beutler Lecture and Prize

Turning Foes Into Friends: Exploiting HIV to Generate Efficient and Safe Vectors to Cure Inherited and Acquired Blood Diseases

Monday, December 11, 2017, 1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Georgia World Congress Center, Bldg C- Lvl 1- Hall C2-C3

Early trials of hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) gene therapy reported clear patient benefits, but the trials also highlighted the limitations and risks of the first-generation integrating vectors. In order to improve the safety and efficacy of gene transfer, a new integrating vector system was developed starting from HIV. The outcome of these efforts was lentiviral vectors that showed robust gene transfer and improved safety in several preclinical models. They have since become one of the most widely used gene transfer tools in biomedical research. More recently, upon entering clinical testing in HSC and T-cell gene therapy, lentiviral vectors are providing a long-sought hope of cure for some human diseases without satisfying treatments. Current results from ongoing HSC gene therapy trials for several different indications show substantial therapeutic benefits. The inherited disorders of hemoglobin represent the most common monogenic disease, and it has been estimated that around 7 percent of humans are carrying one of the mutations responsible for these disorders. Patients affected by thalassemia major and sickle cell anemia have stably become transfusion-independent and completely asymptomatic upon lentiviral HSC gene therapy. Near-complete genetic engineering of hematopoiesis has been achieved without clinical or molecular signs of adverse effects of vector insertion to the latest follow up, reaching up to nine years in the earliest treated patients. In-depth analysis of the genomic landscape of vector insertion shows a picture of polyclonal multi-lineage reconstitution of hematopoiesis without emergence of expanding clones, consistent with efficient engraftment of transduced HSC. These findings validate the predictions from preclinical models and support improved efficacy and safety of lentiviral vectors as compared to earlier generation vectors. If safety and efficacy are confirmed in more patients and upon longer follow-up, autologous HSC gene therapy may eventually become a preferred option over allogenic HSC transplantation.

Dr. Luigi Naldini will review the development of lentiviral vectors and the molecular analyses showing safe and efficient HSC gene transfer in preclinical and clinical studies. Early in his career, he described the use of HIV-derived hybrid lentiviral vectors for gene transfer into non-dividing cells. This work laid the foundation for the currently broad use of lentiviral vectors.

Dr. Marina Cavazzana will review the current stage of clinical application and benefit of HSC gene transfer by lentiviral vectors. She is a dynamic and innovative investigator who has spearheaded translational and clinical advances achieved in hematopoietic stem cell gene therapy for multiple inborn immune, hematopoietic, and metabolic disorders.

Speakers:

Luigi Naldini, MD, PhD
San Raffaele Telethon Institute for Gene Therapy
Milan, Italy
Basic Science

Marina Cavazzana, MD, PhD
Hôpital Necker-Enfants Malades
Paris, France
Clinical Science/Translational Resarch

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Late-Breaking Abstracts Session

Tuesday, December 12, 2017, 7:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.
Georgia World Congress Center, Bldg C- Lvl 1- Hall C2-C3

This highly anticipated session highlights the Program Committee's selections of the highest-impact abstracts, featuring substantive, novel, and groundbreaking data that were not available by the general abstract submission deadline and would otherwise not be presented at the ASH annual meeting.

Co-Chairs:

Adam Cuker, MD, MS
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA

Laurie H. Sehn, MD, MPH
British Columbia Cancer Agency
Vancouver, BC, Canada

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Announcement of Awards: William Dameshek Prize and Henry M. Stratton Medal

Tuesday, December 12, 2017, 9:30 a.m. - 9:45 a.m.
Georgia World Congress Center, Bldg C- Lvl 1- Hall C2-C3

William Dameshek Prize

The William Dameshek Prize, named for the late William Dameshek, MD, a past president of ASH and the original editor of Blood, recognizes an early- or mid-career individual who has made a recent outstanding contribution to the field of hematology.

The 2017 William Dameshek Prize will be awarded to Benjamin L. Ebert, MD, PhD, of Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts, for his seminal discoveries in multiple areas of non-malignant and malignant hematology. Dr. Ebert is notable for his leadership in describing the genomic landscape of adult myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), including identifying critical new roles for ribosomal dysfunction. Specifically, he identified RPS14 as a key gene for deletion 5q MDS. His laboratory discovered the molecular basis of lenalidomide activity in MDS as well as multiple myeloma. Recent studies have characterized clonal hematopoiesis and its contribution to both hematologic malignancies and cardiovascular disease. Along with human genetic studies, Dr. Ebert’s lab has made significant contributions to understanding the biological basis of transformation of hematopoietic cells by somatic mutations. His work has demonstrated creativity, innovative methodology, and direct human relevance.

Henry M. Stratton Medal

The Henry M. Stratton Medal is named after the late Henry Maurice Stratton, co-founder of Grune and Stratton, the medical publishing house that first published ASH’s journal Blood. The prize honors two senior investigators whose contributions to both basic and clinical/ translational hematology research are well recognized and have taken place over a period of several years.

The 2017 Henry M. Stratton Medal for Basic Research will be awarded to Josef Tomas Prchal, MD, of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah, for his original and lasting scientific contributions to the study of a broad range of red cell disorders. In particular, he is highly regarded for his research on disorders of increased red cell mass, including primary erythrocytosis/polycythemia, as well as inherited and acquired forms of both secondary erythrocytosis and polycythemia vera. Dr. Prchal’s research has contributed substantially to the fundamental understanding of the genetic basis of both primary and secondary polycythemias. His laboratory described the VHL mutation in recessive Chuvash familial polycythemia and elaborated on the pathobiology of EPOR mutations in autosomal dominant familial polycythemia. His genetic investigations of acquired polycythemia vera led to the association of chromosome 9p abnormalities with the disease. More recently, he and his collaborators showed that Tibetans are protected from high altitude polycythemia as a result of a high altitude genetic adaptation, due to variants of the EGLN1 gene and EPAS1 haplotype.

The 2017 Henry M. Stratton Medal for Clinical/Translational Research will be awarded to Sherrill Slichter, MD, of the University of Washington School of Medicine and Bloodworks Northwest in Seattle, Washington, for her major contributions to the field of transfusion medicine over 45 years that have revolutionized platelet transfusion therapy. She has identified methods to significantly prolong the shelf life of platelets, determined approaches to prevent alloimmune platelet refractoriness, identified the minimum number of platelets required to maintain hemostasis, and provided insights into understanding platelet production and viability. These long-term studies have established and improved state-of-the-art practice in transfusion medicine.

Co-Chair:

Kenneth C. Anderson, MD
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Boston, MA

Speakers:

Sherrill J. Slichter, MD
University of Washington School of Medicine
Seattle, WA

Benjamin L. Ebert, MD, PhD
Brigham and Women's Hospital
Boston, MA

Josef T. Prchal, MD
University of Utah
Salt Lake City, UT

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Presidential Symposium

Chromatin Modulation: Biology and Therapeutic Applications

Tuesday, December 12, 2017, 9:45 a.m. - 11:15 a.m.
Georgia World Congress Center, Bldg C- Lvl 1- Hall C2-C3

Major advances have delineated the central role of chromatin in cell lineage differentiation in health and disease. Parallel advances have defined epigenetic mechanisms regulating normal and malignant hematopoiesis. These insights have provided the framework and expanded the spectrum of novel therapeutic targets in hematologic malignancies. This session will span from biology to clinical translation of therapies modulating chromatin in cancer and other diseases. 

Dr. Richard Young will discuss recent insights into the roles of chromatin structure in health and disease. Chromosomes have DNA, RNA, and protein components that form chromatin, which has essential roles in gene control. 

Dr. Margaret Goodell will discuss the mechanisms through which DNA methylation, in particular, helps orchestrate stem cell differentiation as well as the cross-talk with other elements that control gene expression. The frequent mutation of epigenetic regulators observed in most hematologic malignancies has revealed their critical roles in ensuring normal blood development.

Dr. James Bradner will examine the remarkable progress in the optimization and translation of chromatin-targeting small molecules in cancer and, increasingly, in non-malignant hematologic diseases. The convergence of advances in epigenomic analysis, human genetics, and chemical biology have focused coordinated efforts in drug discovery around chromatin-associated protein complexes.

Co-Chair:

Kenneth C. Anderson, MD
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Boston, MA

Speakers:

Richard A. Young, PhD
Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research
Cambridge, MA
Chromosome Structure and Function in Health and Disease

Margaret A. Goodell, PhD
Baylor College of Medicine
Houston, TX
Epigenetic Regulation in Normal and Malignant Hematopoiesis

James Bradner, MD
Novartis
Cambridge, MA
Therapeutic Targeting of Chromatin

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Business Meeting

Tuesday, December 12, 2017, 11:15 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
Georgia World Congress Center, Bldg C- Lvl 1- Hall C2-C3

At least one month prior to the annual meeting, reports on ASH's financial status; awards; and journals, Blood and Blood Advances; as well as information about the Society's leadership nominations, are made available online for review by ASH members. The Business Meeting will offer a forum for members to discuss the information presented in these documents and will conclude with the traditional passing of the gavel to the new ASH president. back to top

Best of ASH

Tuesday, December 12, 2017, 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Georgia World Congress Center, Bldg C- Lvl 1- Hall C2-C3

Before heading home, make time to attend this 90-minute session for a review of the key themes from this year's meeting. Led by the 2017 Annual Meeting Scientific Program Co-Chairs. Best of ASH is your opportunity to hear about the biggest breakthroughs from the meeting’s abstract presentations.

Co-Chairs:

Scott A. Armstrong, MD, PhD
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Boston, MA

Andrew S. Weyrich, PhD
University of Utah
Salt Lake City, UT

Speakers:

Andrew S. Weyrich, PhD
University of Utah
Salt Lake City, UT

Scott A. Armstrong, MD, PhD
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Boston, MA

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