The Hematologist

July-August 2014, Volume 11, Issue 4

Visitors’ Bureau – A Preview of the 2014 ASH Annual Meeting

Published on: July 18, 2014

In 2008, we met in San Francisco to celebrate the Society’s 50th anniversary. That was a special occasion, but whenever we meet in “The City,” it’s a cause for celebration. ASH and San Francisco seem to be kindred in spirit as the beauty and vitality of the city together with the enthusiasm and creative energy of the Society’s members and guests synergize to create a sense that anything is possible. Make plans to join colleagues at the 56th Annual Meeting, and keep in mind the opportunity to enjoy the advantages of this special venue. Take a few extra days to cross the Golden Gate Bridge into the wine country of Napa Valley or travel the majestic Pacific Coast Highway south to Carmel and on to Big Sur. As Nietzsche reminded us, “Is life not a thousand times too short for us to bore ourselves”?

As we look forward to the annual meeting, we asked the current chair of the Committee on Training Programs and the 2014 co-chairs of the Education and Scientific Programs to give their perspectives on this year’s annual meeting program.

Trainee Program

The Committee on Training is responsible for presenting educational programs specifically designed for physicians and researchers who are either in training or who are in an early phase of their academic careers. These events, supported by the Trainee Council, include Trainee Day, Career-Development Lunch Sessions, Trainee Simultaneous Didactic Sessions, and the Trainee Welcome Reception. A workshop is also held during the annual meeting for training program directors and for hematology course directors.

The schedule begins on Friday, December 5, with Trainee Day, and this year, the program will focus on negotiating and keeping a job and on how to fund a research career. The session kicks off with a noon luncheon during which there will be two didactic presentations: one titled “Giving an Effective Presentation” and the other titled “The Hurdles of Translational Research.” The former session will be valuable to all trainees, and in the latter session, trainees will learn about the challenges unique to translational research, including how to balance time between the clinic and the lab, how to deal with local and governmental regulatory bodies, how to develop collaborations, and how to secure funding. After these presentations, the attendees will move into small breakout groups to discuss either how to negotiate a job offer or how to secure start-up funding and how to identify and apply for career-development awards. Next, the attendees will come together for a final didactic session, followed by the Trainee Welcome Reception where trainees meet with AS H leadership and learn more about the AS H meeting and trainee resources. The reception provides a unique opportunity for networking with fellow trainees and with senior members of the Society in a collegial, spirited atmosphere.

The Career-Development Lunch Program on Saturday, December 6, allows for an intimate opportunity to receive career counseling and guidance. Tables will be organized so that trainees can have lunch with AS H members who have a special interest in career development. Career topics include adult hematology/clinical research; pediatric hematology/ oncology; hospital-based careers with an emphasis on hemapheresis, hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, laboratory medicine, or hematopathology; or in careers in industry, government, or private practice. And space within the session will be devoted specifically to career counseling for PhD scientists and to medical students and residents who are interested in hematology fellowships.

Several Didactic Sessions specifically aimed at trainees will be presented on Sunday, December 7, and Monday, December 8. On Sunday, a session on outcomes research in hematology will be presented. This is a new topic that was developed to provide trainees with insights into comparative effectiveness research, the use of large database resources, and the methods and resources that are required for large systematic reviews. A second didactic session on Sunday is titled “How to Transition from Trainee to Faculty.” This lecture will include discussion on how to find a job, how to negotiate an academic resource plan, and how to facilitate the transition from trainee to faculty member, with a focus on career goals, support, and service. Two more didactic sessions will be offered on Monday at 12:00 noon. The first session will focus on the essentials of managing personnel and how to foster teamwork, and the other session is intended to support the goals of PhD scientist interested in translational research.

Later in the meeting, the Committee will offer a Junior Faculty Education Session with the following three didactics focusing on the theme of mentorship: “Identifying a Mentor and Optimizing the Mentor/Mentee Relationship,” “The Warning Signs of a Problematic Mentoring Relationship and How to Fix It,” and “Transitioning from Being a Mentee to Becoming a Mentor.” We hope that these presentations and sessions provide fellows, postdoctoral students, and junior faculty with the tools needed to find a job and to build a successful career.

– Gary Schiller, MD, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Education Program

The 2014 ASH Education Program was developed not only to provide state-of-the-art clinical information but also to communicate to clinicians the scientific underpinnings upon which diagnostic and treatment recommendations are built. The ultimate goal is to ensure that while hematology patients receive optimal care, clinicians are equipped to think innovatively about assessment and management issues. Accordingly, this year, within each session, a lecture will be devoted to the clinical implications of basic research as it relates to the topic of the session. We “hypothesize” that including the scientific rationale for diagnosis and treatment of everyday hematologic diseases, whether malignant or non-malignant, will enhance the learning experience for the practicing hematologist. For example, attendees can look forward to the “Secret Lives of Blood Cells in Disease” session that will examine the role of platelets and red cells in infection, inflammation, and thrombosis. In the session titled “Comeback Kid: The Contact Pathway and Factor XI,” meeting attendees will be informed of the participation of the often forgotten contact factors in thrombosis and of how understanding of these relationships is being exploited to develop novel approaches to thromboprophylaxis and treatment of thromboembolic disease. The “Stemware: Stem Cell Therapy for Congenital Blood Disorders” session will take attendees on a fascinating educational journey during which the latest techniques aimed at curing hemophilia, sickle cell disease, and combined immunodeficiency will be reviewed. There will also be a session that focuses on tumors expressing the myc oncogene and how deregulation of myc expression contributes to resistance to standard therapies. New to the Education Program this year are lectures aimed at illuminating the challenges of managing survivorship after treatment of blood cancers, including discussion of optimal disease surveillance strategies and the importance of attention to prevention of late complications of treatment.

These are but a few highlights of what our internationally recognized experts and rising stars in malignant and nonmalignant hematology will bring to attendees at this year’s meeting.

– Jonathan W. Friedberg, MD, University of Rochester School of Medicine, Rochester, NY; and Margaret V. Ragni, MD, MPH, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA

Scientific Program

At the core of the Scientific Program are the members of the Society’s 18 Scientific Committees. The chair of each committee is charged with organizing a session for inclusion in the program of the annual meeting that provides attendees with an update on research progress that falls within the purview of their particular committee. The result is a scientific program of unparalleled scope that features the breath of hematology research presented by the leaders of their field.

In addition to the Scientific Committee Sessions, interactive learning opportunities in the form of “Continuing Conversations with the Speakers” will be a feature of the Scientific Program. Using a roundtable discussion format, these sessions are designed for attendees to meet with speakers subsequent to completion of a session so that information presented during the session can be expounded, with audience members driving the conversation.

We are particularly excited about two Special Scientific Symposia that will be held this year. Highlighting transformative studies with implications for both research and clinical practice, these symposia will focus on two emerging technologies. The symposium on RNA therapeutics in hematology will address the scientific basis of RNA therapeutics and spotlight examples of potential applications for treatment of hematologic disorders, including RNAbased therapeutic approaches to antithrombotic therapy and long non-coding RNA therapeutics for HIV and cancer. The symposium on chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy will provide attendees with an update on this rapidly developing field of immunotherapy, in which a patient’s T lymphocytes are engineered to target specific antigens. This approach has demonstrated dramatic efficacy in the treatment of hematologic malignancies, including refractory acute lymphocytic leukemia, and a wide range of potential applications are currently being explored.

For the second year, ASH will offer Scientific Spotlight Sessions. Here, speakers will discuss current challenges and controversies in a particular scientific field in a format that encourages audience participation. These 90-minute sessions will address the current state of knowledge, translational and clinical applications, and future directions for the following topics: lessons from mouse models of sickle cell disease, the best preclinical model for testing novel therapeutics, and the malignant bone marrow niche.

– Benjamin Ebert, MD, PhD, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School; and Steven Lentz, MD, PhD, The University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, Iowa City, IA

ASH member registration opens on Thursday, July 24, at 11:00 a.m. (EDT) and housing reservation requests can be made at the same time. The abstract submission deadline is Tuesday, August 5, at 11:59 p.m. (PDT). More information is available here.

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