The Hematologist

January-February 2015, Volume 12, Issue 1

Channeling Our Strengths in the New Year

David A. Williams, MD Chief of Hematology/Oncology; Director of Clinical and Translational Research
Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, MA

Published on: January 27, 2015

As I assume the Presidency of ASH, I would like to acknowledge the outstanding leadership that Linda Burns has provided over the past year. Indeed, Linda has contributed in the same outstanding fashion in various leadership roles within ASH for more than a decade. Her contributions in numerous spheres have been both substantive and critical for the progress of the Society in many important areas.

I recently returned from our annual meeting in San Francisco, which set a new record for attendance. The meeting continues to be an outstanding mixture of basic, translational, and clinical talks. I was very impressed with the progress made in harnessing the immune system to eliminate tumor cells, the development of new targeted compounds in myeloma and leukemia, and new treatments for hemophilia. I attended my first ASH annual meeting in 1976 in Boston during the nation’s bicentennial year. I had just completed my first year of medical school at Indiana University and delivered an oral paper on alveolar macrophages to a packed room. I was both extremely nervous and immensely impressed with the science in that meeting. The experience cemented my choice of training both in hematology and in scientific investigation, which became a major component of my career. Science, education, and networking remain the key elements of the success of our meeting, which continues to be the premier hematology meeting in the world.

In the upcoming year, ASH will focus on several priorities including advocacy for increased National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding and reimbursement policies that will allow us to serve our patients in the best possible manner. In addition, as a longtime fellowship director, I feel strongly that ASH needs to focus additional efforts on facilitating the careers of young trainees. There are noteworthy recent examples of these ongoing efforts, including the decision by the ASH Executive Committee to expand funding for the ASH Scholar Awards Program that supports hematology trainees and junior faculty in the critical years between training and their first independent NIH grant. Additionally, the new ASH Junior Faculty Symposium was held for the first time at the meeting in San Francisco.

Our strengths as a society include our superb professional staff and the commitment of the outstanding volunteers. One recent example in which these strengths shine is the launch of the new ASH Meeting on Hematologic Malignancies. The inaugural meeting will be held in Chicago from September 17 to 19, 2015 and will feature premier educators from the Society. The meeting is designed for participants to discuss with top experts in the field the latest in clinical care and the most challenging patient care questions.

I am extremely proud and honored to serve as president of this outstanding society, which serves a broad representation of both practice and academic communities and both domestic and international members.

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