American Society of Hematology

General Sessions

The following information is preliminary and subject to change.

These signature sessions are designed to be of interest to a broad and diverse audience and are spread throughout the four days of the meeting. They 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.

General Session at the ASH Annual Meeting

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

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.

The 2018 ASH Mentor Award for Basic Science will be awarded to John E. Dick, PhD, of the University of Toronto, Princess Margaret Cancer Center, and Ontario Institute for Cancer Research in Toronto, Canada, for the numerous careers he has enabled, supported, and guided. Many of his mentees have gone on to have a significant and long-lasting impact on the scientific community. Since 1988, Dr. Dick has mentored more than 130 individuals, fostering a climate of honesty, transparency, and intellectual curiosity. A universal theme among his nominators has been his personal involvement in their careers, including the time devoted to mentees both before and after their time in his laboratory. Dr. Dick’s trainees widely agree that he has served as an inspirational role model.

The 2018 ASH Mentor Award for a Clinical Investigator will be awarded to Reed E. Drews, MD, of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts, for his profound commitment to his mentees’ personal and professional growth. For more than a generation, Dr. Drews has had an enduring impact on the lives of more than 120 trainees. His mentees have achieved success in a variety of settings, including becoming successful clinicians and leaders at major academic institutions across the country, as well as pursuing alternative paths in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical spheres. Dr. Drews is appreciated for recognizing the unique needs and career goals of each trainee and for the individualized guidance and mentorship he provides.

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 2018 ASH Award for Leadership in Promoting Diversity will be awarded to Cage S. Johnson, MD, of the University of Southern California and USC Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center in Los Angeles, California, and José A. López, MD, of the University of Washington and Bloodworks Northwest in Seattle, Washington, for their commitment to diversity and inclusion in hematology.

For the better part of their careers, Drs. Johnson and López have worked tirelessly to ensure that diversity and inclusion are priorities in the field. As educators, they have recruited, mentored, and helped shape the careers of countless trainees from underrepresented groups. As ASH volunteers, Drs. Johnson and López served as co-chairs of the Society’s first Ad Hoc Minority Committee, which they shepherded from an ad hoc committee to a standing committee. They also worked in tandem to develop and nurture the ASH Minority Recruitment Initiative and to promote and celebrate diversity in hematology through special events for underrepresented minorities to network, showcase achievement, and build community.

Dr. Johnson is a founding member and former president of the EE Just Hematology Society, a society of minority hematologists based in Los Angeles. Since the society’s inception in 1985, he has taken many young, underrepresented minorities under his wing and encouraged them to successfully pursue careers in hematology.

Dr. López has a long history of participation in programs aimed at increasing the number of underrepresented minorities and women in medicine and hematology. For many years, he has collaborated with medical schools in Mexico to host students for summer research electives. Dr. López has also participated in programs at Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Washington intended to increase medical school diversity.

Through their efforts and contributions, Drs. Johnson and López have improved minority recruitment into hematology research and practice in the U.S. and Canada. They have elevated the visibility and representation of minority hematologists across the Society and have served as role models for the next generation of hematology leaders.

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 2018 Wallace H. Coulter Award for Lifetime Achievement in Hematology will recognize Victor Hoffbrand, DM, DSc, of University College in London, United Kingdom, for his seminal contributions to the fields of anemia, iron metabolism, and non-malignant hematology, his commitment to the mentoring of trainees, and his significant contributions to hematology education.

Dr. Hoffbrand’s research accomplishments include work on the mechanism by which vitamin B12 deficiency affects folate metabolism. He established the first method of measuring red cell folate, and his research subsequently unraveled the detailed nature of the DNA defect in vitamin B12 and folate deficiencies causing megaloblastic anemia. Dr. Hoffbrand’s research in iron metabolism led to pioneering clinical trials and major advances in the lifelong management of patients with hemoglobinopathies as well as all transfusion-dependent patients with refractory anemias. In 1998, he was the first to use combined iron chelation therapy, which has almost entirely eliminated fatal complications from iron overload in patients with thalassemia major. Dr. Hoffbrand’s work on a new immunologic and molecular-based classification of the leukemias and lymphomas helped re-shape our understanding of the pathogenesis of hematologic malignancies.

Dr. Hoffbrand has authored and edited several leading hematology textbooks and publications, including Hoffbrand’s Essential Haematology, Haematology at a Glance, Atlas of Clinical Hematology, and Postgraduate Haematology. His textbooks have received multiple prestigious awards and are recognized as some of the most influential books in hematology education. Dr. Hoffbrand has also contributed to the education and mentorship of generations of hematologists, many of whom have gone on to become leading physician scientists. He is being recognized for his generosity, support, guidance, and wisdom as a mentor.

Chair:

Alexis A. Thompson, MD, MPH
Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago
Chicago, IL

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

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 2018 William Dameshek Prize will be awarded to Ross L. Levine, MD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, New York, for his significant contributions to the field of leukemogenesis. An internationally recognized leader, he is among the several investigators who have driven the paradigm shift of leukemia research from simple identification of genetic mutations to elucidation of mechanisms that explain how epigenetic modifiers and other variants mediate malignant transformation. Dr. Levine was one of the first to define the role of TET2 and IDH1 and IDH2 mutations in hematopoietic malignancies, and he has played a key role in deciphering the roles of STAT3 and STAT5 constitutive activation in myeloproliferative neoplastic pathogenesis. These findings have led to the development of novel agents that target the respective molecular defects.

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 2018 Henry M. Stratton Medal for Basic Research will be awarded to Freda K. Stevenson, DPhil, of the University of Southampton in Southampton, United Kingdom, for her innovative work in immunogenetics, which has led to the fundamental understanding of the pathogenesis of lymphoid malignancies. Dr. Stevenson’s research contributions include the seminal description of the B cell idiotype as a unique therapeutic target, the first identification of CD38 as a target for therapy in multiple myeloma, and the detection of the exclusive presence of abnormal N-glycosylation sites in the Ig variable regions of follicular lymphoma tumor cells that promote anti-apoptotic signaling. Her pioneering immunogenetic experiments characterized two subsets of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia based on the presence or absence of somatic hypermutation of Ig variable regions and who have markedly different prognoses.

Dr. Stevenson is also recognized for providing a structural explanation for recognition of red cell I/i antigens by IgM cold-agglutinin autoantibodies, and for the design and development of gene-based vaccines against tumor antigens. Her experiments have led to the development of DNA vaccines incorporating IgV sequences as single chain Fv and of conjugate vaccines containing tumor antigens and non-toxic sequences from infectious organisms. Dr. Stevenson’s research has also defined pivotal mechanisms of action in several B-cell lymphoproliferative disorders.

The 2018 Henry M. Stratton Medal for Clinical/Translational Research will be awarded to Brunangelo Falini, MD, of the University of Perugia and the Santa Maria della Misericordia Hospital in Perugia, Italy. Dr. Falini is recognized for his pioneering work in the field of hybridoma technology, which led to the generation of monoclonal antibodies directed against differentiation antigens and oncogenic proteins widely used for the diagnosis of lymphomas and leukemias. His work has also contributed to the development of modern classifications of lymphoid and myeloid hematopoietic neoplasms.

Dr. Falini constructed the first anti-CD30 immunotoxin and demonstrated its activity in refractory/relapsed Hodgkin lymphoma. This work anticipated the development of brentuximab vedotin as immunotherapy for this disease by almost 20 years. Using the anti-ALK monoclonal antibody, Dr. Falini biologically and clinically characterized ALK+ anaplastic large-cell lymphoma and greatly contributed to its inclusion as a disease entity in the WHO 2008 classification of lymphoid neoplasms. His seminal discovery of nucleophosmin (NPM1) mutations in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) with normal cytogenetics uncovered a new mechanism of leukemogenesis, resulting in better prognostication of patients with AML, the capability to molecularly monitor minimal residual disease, and new therapeutic approaches.

Over the past decade, Dr. Falini has contributed significantly to the molecular characterization of hairy cell leukemia (HCL) and to the establishment of the first molecular diagnostic test for HCL. Furthermore, he and his group demonstrated activity of the BRAF inhibitor vemurafenib for treatment of refractory or relapsed HCL. Molecular assays for BRAF-V600E allow HCL to be better distinguished from HCL-like disorders, enabling optimal therapy for patients with HCL.

Chair:

Alexis A. Thompson, MD, MPH
Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago
Chicago, IL

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ASH-EHA Joint Symposium

Constitutional Syndromes With Malignant Potential

Many associations have been recognized between constitutional syndromes and predisposition to cancers, yet most lack evidence-based recommendations for surveillance or robust data demonstrating clear mechanistic linkages. Ideally, implementation of early surveillance and intervention could reduce morbidity and mortality. Understanding more about pathogenesis may lead to new therapies. Down syndrome, or Trisomy 21, is a well-recognized condition with a tendency to develop malignancies, including megakaryocytic leukemia caused by mutations in GATA1.

The speakers in this joint symposium will highlight advances in clinical research that provide more clarity for recommendations for cancer surveillance screening, as well as translational studies that target pathways in these and related hematologic malignancies.

Co-Chairs:

Alexis A. Thompson, MD, MPH
Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago
Chicago, IL

Pieter Sonneveld, MD PhD
Erasmus MC Cancer Institute
Rotterdam, Netherlands

Speakers:

Irene Roberts, MD
MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine
Oxford, United Kingdom
Leukemia in Down Syndrome: Why Does It Happen and What Should We Do About It?

John D. Crispino, PhD, MBA
Northwestern University
Chicago, IL
GATA1 Deficiency Syndromes: From Congenital Anemia to Acute Myeloid Leukemia and Myelofibrosis

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Best of ASH

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 2018 Scientific Program co-chairs, Best of ASH is your opportunity to hear about the biggest breakthroughs from the meeting's scientific presentations.

Co-Chairs:

Martha Sola-Visner, MD
Boston Children's Hospital
Boston, MA

John D. Crispino, PhD, MBA
Northwestern University
Chicago, IL

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Business Meeting

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

E. Donnall Thomas Lecture and Prize

This lectureship and prize was created in 1992 and named after the late Nobel Prize laureate and past president of ASH E. Donnall Thomas, MD. The E. Donnall Thomas Lecture and Prize recognizes pioneering research achievements in hematology that represent a paradigm shift or significant discovery in the field.

Blood Stem Cells: A Simple Concept, But a Complex Reality

Understanding the cellular mechanisms that enable trillions of short-lived mature blood cells to be produced over a lifetime has commanded the interest of physicians and scientists for more than a century. Initially, progress was hampered by the fact that the cellular processes involved are not readily discernible by microscopic examination of the tissues where blood cells are generated. In the 1950s, a new phase of hematopoiesis research was launched by the discovery that an injection of bone marrow cells from normal mice into an irradiated recipient could permanently restore blood cell production in the host.

E. Donnall Thomas recognized the clinical potential of this finding and initiated seminal studies to realize it. Ensuing experiments to identify the cells responsible led to the first in vivo clonal growth assays; i.e., methods that simultaneously detect and quantify individual cells retrospectively, based on their progeny outputs when stimulated in vivo. Soon thereafter, a series of in vitro clonal assays for different types of blood cell progenitors were also developed based on the same principle but using growth factors as the stimulus. Together, these assays have enabled investigations of the pathogenesis of many hematologic diseases and have revolutionized approaches to their therapy. They have also served as a paradigm for broader investigations of the cellular mechanisms responsible for the maintenance and regeneration of other tissues.

More recent developments are now making it possible to identify critical molecular features of normal and abnormal human cells with defined growth properties by performing different assessments on fixed and viable single cells with precisely matched surface phenotypes. Application of this approach is revealing much greater heterogeneity than previously imagined.

This lecture will highlight key advances, future challenges, and exciting opportunities in hematopoietic stem cell research.

Connie J. Eaves, PhD, was nominated for the E. Donnall Thomas Lecture and Prize for her outstanding contributions to the field of hematopoiesis over five decades. Dr. Eaves is a pioneer in the field of stem cell research and has mentored many of the other leaders in the field.

Chair:

Alexis A. Thompson, MD, MPH
President, American Society of Hematology, Northwestern University
Chicago, IL

Speaker:

Connie J. Eaves, PhD
British Columbia Cancer Agency
Vancouver, Canada

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Ernest Beutler Lecture and Prize

The Ernest Beutler Lecture and Prize, named for the late Ernest Beutler, MD, past president of ASH and physician-scientist for more than 50 years, is a two-part lectureship that recognizes major advances related to a single topic. This award honors two individuals, one recognized for enabling advances in basic science, and the other recognized for using clinical science or translational research to carry basic science advances through to tangible improvements in patient care.

Bone Marrow Failure: Pathogenesis and Treatment

A few decades ago, little was known of aplastic anemia—acquired or constitutional—beyond a poor prognosis and limited treatments; and there were few plausible molecular or cellular mechanisms. In the intervening years, the study of human cells in the research laboratory has revealed, in extraordinary detail, profound and novel mechanisms of DNA repair, Fanconi anemia being the prime example but also for telomere diseases, GATA2 deficiency, and other inherited forms of aplastic anemia. Acquired aplastic anemia, a once-fatal hematologic disease, is now effectively treated with marrow replacement, immunosuppressive therapies, and, more recently, with a stem cell stimulating drug. Insights from the clinic have elucidated complex and often subtle immune mechanisms, the role of viruses in marrow failure, the phenomenon of clonal escape and selection, and early events in leukemogenesis. In recent years, bone marrow failure has developed as a specific and important field within hematology, with its own specialty clinics, innovative research programs, and exciting new therapies.

Dr. Alan D’Andrea will describe the molecular basis of inherited bone marrow failure syndromes and emerging opportunities for novel therapies.

Dr. Neal Young will describe advances in the clinic and the laboratory that have markedly improved the outlook of a once uniformly fatal hematologic disease.

Drs. D’Andrea and Young were nominated for the Ernest Beutler Lecture and Prize based on their respective contributions in the pathophysiology and clinical translation leading to new developments in the treatment of inherited and acquired bone marrow failure syndromes.

Chair:

Alexis A. Thompson, MD, MPH
President, American Society of Hematology, Northwestern University
Chicago, IL

Speakers:

Alan D. D'Andrea, MD
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Boston, MA

Neal S. Young, MD
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD

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Ham-Wasserman Lecture

On the Architecture of Translational Research Designed to Control Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is currently one of the most dynamic fields of clinical research. Important advances in understanding the pathogenesis of CLL have led to the development of new diagnostic tools. At the same time, several new, recently approved agents are poised to dramatically change the management of this disease and have already started to improve clinical outcomes for patients.

In this lecture, Dr. Michael Hallek will summarize some of the key findings that have critically contributed to the progress made over the last decades. He will summarize the major insights regarding the biology of CLL as well as the technological advances that allow for a better prognostication of the disease.

From a clinical perspective, Dr. Hallek will outline the relevance of a combined use of clinical, biological, and genetic information for an optimal prognostication of CLL. He will discuss why early, asymptomatic stages should be watched and not treated, while symptomatic cases and advanced stages should receive treatment. Dr. Hallek will also cover the use of chemoimmunotherapy with fludarabine, cyclophosphamide, and rituximab (FCR) as the standard therapeutic option for young, fit patients with symptomatic disease. He will discuss first-line therapy for elderly or unfit CLL patients, which may consist of either ibrutinib monotherapy or chlorambucil combined with anti-CD20 antibodies (preferably obinutuzumab), as well as the use of targeted agents for relapsed patients.

Dr. Hallek will also summarize novel strategies using combinations of targeted agents to prevent clonal evolution of CLL. Currently, strategies are tested where constant clonal monitoring might be used for early detection and treatment of high-risk mutations that define treatment resistance or support transformation to diffuse large B cell lymphoma (Richter transformation).

Chair:

Alexis A. Thompson, MD, MPH
President, American Society of Hematology, Northwestern University
Chicago, IL

Speaker:

Michael Hallek
Department I of Internal Medicine and Center of Integrated Oncology Cologne-Bonn, German CLL Study Group, University Hospital Cologne
Cologne, Germany
Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

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Late-Breaking Abstracts Session

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. back to top

Plenary Scientific Session

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

Presidential Symposium

Completing the Genome Editing Arc in Hematology

The trajectory for the development of genomic engineering has accelerated as new tools for scientific discovery are being rapidly deployed across diverse hematologic conditions. The early and ongoing support from leading research agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health, has catalyzed progress for gene-based therapies. Yet this discourse has revealed the need for clear articulation of guidelines and standards that consider the social and ethical considerations of genomic modification. In this symposium, experts will discuss the evolution of genomic technology, emerging clinical applications, and ethical questions raised by these developments.

Dr. Francis Collins will describe how fundamental advances in our knowledge of hematologic conditions, biology of viral vectors and target cells, and the development of methods to genetically modify cells are contributing to acceleration of the field. 

Dr. Donald Kohn will discuss the scientific evolution of gene therapy and genome editing as well as the growing clinical applications of these technologies.

Dr. George Daley will discuss the ethical and social challenges that some of these new technologies engender, as well as essential considerations for guidance on all aspects of stem cell research and its clinical translation.

Chair:

Alexis A. Thompson, MD, MPH
President, American Society of Hematology, Northwestern University
Chicago, IL

Speakers:

Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD
Accelerating Cures in the Genomic Age

Donald B. Kohn, MD
University of California – Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA
Translating Science to Therapy

George Q. Daley, MD
Harvard Medical School
Boston, MA
Social and Ethical Considerations in the Genomic Age

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