The Hematologist

July-August 2017, Volume 14, Issue 4

Beyond Business As Usual

Kenneth C. Anderson, MD Kraft Family Professor of Medicine
Harvard Medical School; Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA

Published on: July 01, 2017

In May of this year, ASH held its yearly Executive Committee Spring Retreat, in Quebec City, Canada, where Executive Committee members and senior staff have an opportunity to collaborate, bond, and be inspired by our diverse points of view. This year, there emerged the beginnings of some major strategic initiatives and goals for ASH to develop further in the coming months and years. These initiatives demonstrate ASH’s constant growth and commitment to improvement in the field of hematology.

ASH realizes that there is a need to facilitate the sharing of high-quality clinical data for ASH members and the hematology community, and to provide direct data management support for disease-specific research activities. Thus, ASH has committed to developing its own data registry focusing initially on sickle cell disease (SCD) and multiple myeloma. And given our ongoing efforts to conquer SCD, ASH continues to take on new ways to equip hematologists with the tools and knowledge they need to best serve SCD patients. For example, ASH is exploring the development of a clinical trials network for SCD to help clinical research sites develop and test interventional therapeutics that may improve SCD patient outcomes.

Another takeaway is the impressive work of ASH’s standing committees. For one, ASH’s Committee on Quality continues to work on improving quality of care, mainly through clinical practice guideline development. ASH is currently developing guidelines related to venous thromboembolism, SCD, von Willebrand disease, and other topics, while partnering with other professional societies to bring the guidelines to life. (Learn more at

ASH leadership has long been concerned with recruiting and retaining an adequate pipeline of hematologists, and the Committee on Training is in the early stages of conducting a long-term workforce study to help inform these efforts. In the meantime, the Committee on Educational Affairs has been hard at work on a plan to grow and evolve the Society’s education initiatives to meet the challenges of the workforce today and in the future. Exemplifying this growth is the Society’s forthcoming effort to offer readily accessible digital learning opportunities; to collaborate across disciplines to introduce treatment approaches that are more comprehensive; and to develop workshops that are more hands-on and interactive, to name just a few examples of the educational programs ASH will begin rolling out.

Finally I’d like to share an update relevant to ASH’s work in the areas of precision medicine and immune therapies. Most recently, the Task Force on Precision Medicine has taken steps toward developing partnerships with key entities. In the coming months, ASH will join forces with the National Institutes of Health Clinical Genomics Resource to collect and annotate germline variants relevant to malignant and nonmalignant hematology disorders, and with the National Cancer Institute Genomic Data Commons to improve on existing genomic data storage, among other goals. Meanwhile the Task Force on Immunotherapies will sponsor a workshop in 2018 to foster advances in novel treatments for hematologic disorders and in metrics to assess both efficacy and toxicity.

I share these plans as a glimpse into ASH’s determination to do more than business as usual. These initiatives will assure that together, we translate exciting scientific advances to the bedside and toward improved patient care, while training the next generation of hematology researchers and caregivers. As always, it is also a signal to members that there will be many new ways to help ASH grow by becoming involved. These programs further highlight the commitment at ASH to serve both clinicians and scientists around the world and to remain the premier hematology society striving to further the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of blood diseases worldwide.

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