On February 14, 2008, Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) congratulated
ASH on its 50th anniversary during a speech on the floor of the U.S.
Senate. Below is the text of his speech as published in the
Mr. President, I congratulate the American Society of Hematology —
ASH — on its 50th anniversary and to pay tribute to the contributions
they have made in preventing and eliminating blood-related diseases.
The Society has grown substantially from its 200 members at its
inception in 1958, to over 15,000 members presently, and is recognized
as the world's premier organization in research promotion, clinical
care, education, training, and advocacy in the field of hematology.
Society members consist of practitioners and researchers who have
been able to translate federal research dollars into effective
treatments for millions of people afflicted with diseases that were at
one time untreatable and fatal. The blood and blood-related diseases
studied and treated by hematologists include disorders such as leukemia
and lymphoma, thrombosis, anemia and bleeding, and congenital disorders
such as sickle cell anemia, hemophilia, and thalassemia. The
advancements in remedies of these disorders are a direct result of the
continuing efforts made by the ASH.
I sustained an episode with Hodgkin lymphoma cancer two years ago.
That trauma, that illness, I think, could have been prevented had that
war on cancer declared by President Nixon in 1970 been prosecuted with
sufficient intensity. All of us know people who have been stricken by
fatal diseases and many other maladies. It is my hope that other
organizations will use the success of the ASH as an example in
contributing to this nation's desire for finding cures for the most
As chairman, and now ranking member of the appropriations
Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, I have been an ardent
supporter of securing federal funds for the National Institutes of
Health, the crown jewel of the federal government, maybe the only jewel
of the federal government. Health is the country's No. 1 capital asset,
and the American Society of Hematology has contributed to its success.
Hematologists have been instrumental in pioneering the use of
hydroxyurea in the treatment of sickle cell disease and have developed
the first successful cure of childhood leukemia. Moreover,
hematologists were responsible for the research that led to Gleevec,
the first anticancer drug developed to target a molecular problem that
causes chronic myelogenous leukemia.
The American Society of Hematology has played an important role in
the unprecedented growth and advancement of hematology research. With
so many great successes over the past 50 years, I am confident the next
50 years will bring ASH and its over 15,000 members even more
accomplishments in treating and eliminating blood diseases.
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