The Hematologist

November-December 2016, Volume 13, Issue 6

A High Note for Grand Goals

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: November 01, 2016

The weeks leading up to the ASH annual meeting are very busy and exciting for many of us. Whether you are presenting this year, enjoying the meeting as an attendee, or keeping an eye on all of the developing breakthroughs from home, there is a great deal to be inspired by and look forward to in San Diego this year. 2016 will be a year for a record number of abstracts, more Education and Scientific Program sessions, new joint sessions and spotlight topics, and other special events and features. On a personal note, I am also privileged to pass the gavel over to Dr. Ken Anderson, who will lead ASH forward in 2017. As the year comes to a close, I would like to reflect on the important initiatives on the horizon that you as ASH members have helped bring to fruition in 2016.

It™s been a productive year for ASH in developing and launching the Sickle Cell Disease Coalition along with 20 other organizations, who are issuing a call to action to amplify the voice of the sickle cell disease (SCD) community. The goals of ASH and its partners over the coming years are large-scale. However, there is room for many of us to get involved in this important initiative. Priorities in the coming years include expanding newborn screening and early prevention programs globally, developing new guidelines and educational strategies to improve the care of individuals with SCD, and investing resources in research and clinical trials to accelerate the pace of discovery. We were pleased to announce the launch in September of the SCD Coalition website. This new feature is the home for the campaign and offers numerous useful resources for providers. for the website also highlights the “2016 State of Sickle Cell Disease” — a comprehensive summary of the current state of research, access to care, and global issues that was created by ASH and endorsed by dozens of groups. It has been amazing to watch the SCD Coalition come together over the last several months, and ASH and the entire SCD community are just getting started. Please stay tuned for more as the progress of the coalition unfolds.

In an earlier President’s Column, I shared some of my thoughts about the National Cancer Moonshot as well as the pivotal role of precision medicine in the next wave of discovery in conquering hematologic diseases. This summer, ASH announced a collaboration with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) to educate caregivers about the importance of clinical trials and of genomic testing in AML. The scope of the collaboration has now taken a giant step with the announcement of the precision-medicine–driven Beat AML Master Trial, which will take place at multiple academic research institutions. The trial’s goals are to test a number of investigational drugs in development, with the hope of speeding up approval and increasing effectiveness of treatments for patients diagnosed with AML. ASH will provide ongoing, collaborative support in spreading the word about this important trial to hematologists and other health-care providers. Visit the ASH website or www.lls.org/beat-aml to learn more.

Lastly, ASH ends 2016 on yet another high note with the launch of a new journal, Blood Advances, just prior to the 2016 ASH Annual Meeting. This new peer-reviewed, online only, open access journal will expand the ASH family of publications, which deliver the best in cutting edge research, original observations and commentaries, point-counterpoint articles, and more. The journal will publish its first content on November 15, 2016 and will publish its first complete issue on November 29, 2016. If you are joining us in San Diego, you will have a chance to browse a special printed edition of the inaugural issue, with subsequent issues available online and via the journal app. We are also proud to have Dr. Robert Negrin from Stanford University serving as the journal’s first Editor-In-Chief. The vision of ASH and of Dr. Negrin is to provide novel approaches for presenting original content, particularly those articles best suited to the electronic format. They will include enhanced graphics, video, audio, visual abstracts, and tools for active interaction and discussion between readers and authors. Keeping pace with rapid breakthroughs and discovery is no simple feat, and it is the goal of Blood Advances to deliver cutting-edge information as rapidly as possible.

It has been an honor to serve as President of ASH this year, to work with the exceptional ASH staff, and to learn from and get to know many of the extraordinary members. I am astounded by and proud of our Society, which is really just a reflection of the talented, smart, caring, and dedicated members and staff that comprise it.

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