The Hematologist

May-June 2017, Volume 14, Issue 3

Update From the Standing Committee on Promoting Diversity

Belinda Avalos, MD

Published on: May 01, 2017

The Committee on Promoting Diversity advises ASH in its efforts to improve minority recruitment into hematology research and practice in the United States and Canada, attract minority hematologists as members of the Society, and develop minority hematologists as leaders. The committee arose from ASH leadership’s recognition in 2003 that very few minority trainees pursue hematology careers, despite the diverse patient population hematologists serve. The committee oversees the Minority Medical Student Award Program (MMSAP) for early-stage medical students, the ASH Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program (ASH-AMFDP) for junior faculty with academic appointments, and the Minority Graduate Student Abstract Achievement Award (MGSAAA) for PhD trainees doing hematology-related research. It also sponsors the MMSAP Luncheon and Promoting Minorities in Hematology Reception at the ASH annual meeting. Additionally, the Committee strives to ensure minority representation across the Society through the nomination of minority ASH members for Honorific Awards and committee appointments, and as potential speakers and abstract reviewers for the ASH annual meeting.

In 2016, the Committee launched several exciting new initiatives. The Minority Resident Hematology Award Program (MRHAP), an entirely new program for residents, as well as a more flexible option for medical students at all levels (MMSAP-flex) to complete a research project in 12 months instead of the eight- to 12-week summer period of the traditional MMSAP, were rolled out. These new programs fill existing gaps at critical intervening stages of training in the longitudinal pathway from medical student to hematologist by providing minority trainees with additional opportunities for doing hematology research and interacting one-on-one with both a research and career development mentor. Recipients of these and now all ASH minority awards are eligible to re-apply for subsequent experiences. The final details of a new, full-time 12-month research program for minority medical students are being hammered out, and ASH Executive Committee approval will be sought for a new program to support minority fellows in hematology research.

2017 has also been a busy year with the launch of the new ASH Institutional Representative (AIR) Program, or “AIR-ASH,” that aims to improve minority medical student and trainee awareness of hematology as a career. It highlights the many research and career development programs ASH offers through creation of a formal volunteer role for faculty to serve as representatives of the Society at their own institutions. AIR faculty will conduct information sessions on a career in hematology and ASH opportunities and interact with relevant minority student/trainee organizations. The new role provides more advanced junior and mid-level faculty who are ASH members with an opportunity to serve the Society and develop relationships with institutional, regional, and national leaders at ASH. A three-year pilot program is planned, with 15 representatives in the first year. The program could have a major Society-wide impact and, if successful as a pilot, could be introduced to additional institutions targeting all medical students, trainees, and faculty with an interest in hematology.

The first ASH Award for Promoting Leadership in Diversity will be presented at the 2017 annual meeting. This is a new Honorific Award created by the committee to honor hematologists who have demonstrated extraordinary commitment to diversity and inclusion in the field of hematology. Society members can stay abreast of these and other new ASH minority recruitment initiatives and the activities of the committee by accessing the Minority Recruitment Initiative webpage.

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