This is the continuation of The Hematologist’s interview with the chair and vice chair of the Society’s Development Committee to discuss the newly formed ASH Foundation. Part 1 of this Q&A article ran in the September/October issue and focused on why an ASH Foundation is needed and how the Society will support it.
||James George, MD, of the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City, is chair of the Development Committee.
Jay Bradner, MD, of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School in Boston, is vice chair of the Development Committee.
The Hematologist: Why is it important for members to donate to the Foundation?
Dr. George: If we are serious about curing blood diseases, we must ensure that there is a pipeline of new, talented hematology researchers and clinicians available to build on the remarkable advances that have already been made. While the Society has been able to provide seed money for programs that support the next generation of physician scientists and basic researchers, more needs to be done. That means that the hematology community must unite in support of these essential programs.
The Hematologist: What are the programs that the Foundation will fund?
Dr. George: The programs that the Foundation will focus on are those that are essential but do not generate self-supporting revenue. ASH needs a funding source to sustain programs for training its junior members and for supporting them as they begin their careers. Training and early-career support are at the heart of the matter for me, because we are a community in crisis, at risk of losing many talented investigators and clinicians who make our field so dynamic.
Dr. Bradner: “Community” is exactly the right word. This isn’t about just one aspect of hematology; this is about the current and future state of research, practice, and the next generation of students, trainees, and junior members.
Dr. George: The following three areas will be the focus of funding: basic and clinical research, quality care and education, and career development. The ASH Foundation website lists the programs within these categories that are supported by donations. Some are new programs; others are existing programs that need new sources of support to continue, and others would benefit from an infusion of funds that would allow them to expand.
A key priority, referred to as “Where Our Need is Greatest,” will focus on supporting the ASH Bridge Grants Program. In the previous issue of The Hematologist, Dr. Keating emphasized that there is a grave concern about the threat to research funds. We are on the cusp of translating significant breakthroughs into meaningful improvements in care; we cannot afford to lose momentum now.
Dr. Bradner: This overview of the ASH Foundation simply marks the start; we will continue to identify innovative ideas to address current and future concerns of the hematology community. As the challenges and opportunities in science and medicine are changing so rapidly, we must adapt as we address these issues and identify new needs.
I think it is important for donors to realize that 100 percent of their gifts given through the ASH Foundation will be spent directly on these programs, because ASH will be providing both start-up and ongoing funds in support of these programs and will continue to cover all of the administrative and management costs associated with both the programs and the ASH Foundation.
The Hematologist: What does the work of the Foundation mean to you?
Dr. George: The Foundation gives me comfort knowing that all of my donation will be spent on the wonderful programs ASH has developed to support and advance the careers of its members. The Foundation provides the promise that our established programs will endure, and it gives us the opportunity to do things we haven’t done before.
The Hematologist: What inspires you to give?
Dr. Bradner: We have reached a pivotal moment in hematology, where the promise of new innovation is threatened by economic constraints. These same financial constraints apply to individuals who need to know that their unselfish contributions will be allocated expertly, efficiently, and transparently. Donors should expect that contributions will be spent solving important problems. Personally, ASH has supported key aspects of my professional training, education, and now independent research in drug discovery. I contribute to ensure that the next generation of hematologists will enjoy the same catalytic opportunities.
The Hematologist: What would you say to your fellow members?
Dr. Bradner: Please consider the ASH Foundation as a major step forward for the Society. We welcome any contribution of resources and ideas. The opportunity to shape the Foundation and the field of hematology is now.
Dr. George: Supporting the ASH Foundation with your donations is supporting the next generation of hematologists who have the potential to find new treatments or even cures for some of the most common and deadliest blood diseases.
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