The Hematologist

January-February 2016, Volume 13, Issue 1

A New Year Full of Promise for ASH

Charles S. Abrams, MD Professor of Medicine, Pathology, and Laboratory Medicine; Director,
PENN-CHOP Blood Center for Patient Care and Discovery, Philadelphia, PA

Published on: January 11, 2016

As we enter into the New Year, I would like to acknowledge the support and leadership that Dr. David Williams has provided ASH and its members throughout 2015.

In the past several years, the January/February issue of The Hematologist has looked back at the previous year’s achievements and has celebrated the way in which ASH’s annual meeting convenes the best minds in the discipline. This year in Orlando, I was impressed with the rapid rate of progress and discovery that the field of hematology is currently enjoying and the unique and enticing opportunities where ASH could play a leading role.

Some of the most meaningful ways ASH can lead is by steadily growing, and refining, the Society’s content offerings. With each issue of Blood, there continues to be a drive toward high-quality, cutting-edge research, resulting in novel therapies across a wide variety of subspecialties. Additionally, in 2016, these efforts will continue with the launch of a new journal from ASH, designed to keep both researchers and clinicians abreast of topics in emerging areas, including, but not exclusive to, immunotherapies and gene editing.

In addition to publications, ASH will launch new educational offerings in 2016 that are in line with the explosive breakthroughs in hematology. To shed continued light on the latest advances in basic and translational lymphoma research, the second Meeting on Lymphoma Biology will take place in June in Colorado Springs, Colorado, while the second ASH Meeting on Hematologic Malignancies in September will feature clinical breakthroughs and cutting-edge treatment approaches to lymphomas, leukemias, and other malignant conditions. Furthermore, because training is so pivotal to our ongoing progress and mission, ASH will launch the Medical Educator’s Institute, which will equip medical educators with a “boot camp” that will cover teaching techniques, as well as proper evaluation of trainees and programs.

It is impossible to discuss the influx of innovation without also mentioning new drugs and precision medicine. At the 2015 Annual Meeting, there were two sessions (one delivered in partnership with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration) devoted to the recent introduction of exciting new drugs available in benign and malignant hematology. With regard to precision medicine, ASH’s newly defined Agenda for Hematology Research has prioritized the areas of genomic profiling and chemical biology and has also created a task force on precision medicine to identify and capitalize on the opportunities in hematology. Building on the research that has been conducted by our members, 2016 is gearing up to be an exciting year in which developments in new drugs and novel treatments based on the human genome will continue on the path to becoming clinically meaningful.

Impressive momentum abounded all throughout hematology last year, and sickle cell disease (SCD) was no exception. From promising improvements in gene therapy, to new approaches for vaso-occlusion, SCD researchers saw some incredible advancements. To strengthen the pace of innovation, ASH announced a new “Call to Action” for SCD during an April 2015 Summit, and in 2016, the Society will expand on the strategies identified, to create new work groups focused on access to care, research, and global outreach.

Finally, 2016 will be another year in which ASH continues to expand outreach and growth on a global scale. To begin with, we were excited to announce after the close of the 2015 annual meeting, a newly approved category of membership that gives International members the right to vote, and that gives the Nominating Committee the flexibility to nominate international candidates to run for a Councillor position, as appropriate for the needs of the Society, at any given time. Another bylaws amendment has created a membership category for International Associate members, which allows trainees outside of North America to join and enjoy a member benefits package similar to that of Associate members in North America.

I am incredibly proud to help realize the promise of the new year as president of ASH, as our Society continues to demonstrate its leadership in some of the most thrilling areas of scientific and clinical exploration.

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