The Hematologist

November-December 2019, Volume 16, Issue 6

Striking an Unwavering Balance

Roy L. Silverstein, MD 2019 President, American Society of Hematology; Chair and Linda and John Mellowes Professor of Medicine
Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI

Published on: October 17, 2019

As I approach the end of my three-year term as an ASH officer and my year as ASH president, it is natural to reflect on the experience while also looking forward with great anticipation to the 61st ASH Annual Meeting in Orlando. This year promises to be truly exciting with something for everyone, including a lineup of all-star invited speakers who are the thought leaders in our discipline, and an exciting program of new science presented as posters and oral sessions. All aspects of hematology will be represented at the meeting, with talks encompassing malignant and nonmalignant diseases, basic and clinical science, and pediatric and adult conditions. Some common scientific themes running through the meeting this year will be big data analytics, artificial intelligence, precision medicine, immunology and immunotherapy, and “hemato-metabolism.” As always, practice-changing clinical and translational research will be highlighted, including during the Late-Breaking Abstracts session, and will undoubtably create a buzz in the national media. It will be bittersweet for me personally to pass the gavel to Dr. Stephanie Lee, but I will do so with confidence that the Society will be in great hands under her leadership.

My main goals as ASH president have been to provide sound stewardship to an organization with a great mission and strategic vision, and to serve as a positive and forceful public face for the Society in our advocacy efforts and our engagement with our North American and international members. Much of this work has been in partnership with our dedicated and talented voluntary executive committee, especially the ASH officers and councilors. I am proud of all that ASH has accomplished during the past three years as we balance our commitment to growth and advancement with a steadfast focus on our shared purpose. It has been especially gratifying to see the ASH Research Collaborative make astounding progress in establishing both the Data Hub and Sickle Cell Disease Clinical Trials Network, and to see our investment in evidence-based clinical practice guidelines come to fruition in venous thrombo-embolic diseases, sickle cell disease, immune thrombocytopenia, von Willebrand disease, and acute myeloid leukemia. Most of the initial group of nearly 20 guidelines have been completed and published, or will be so in 2020.

I have been particularly interested in the hematology workforce pipeline, and I am pleased that several efforts have been launched to develop creative solutions to foster recruitment and retention of physicians and scientists in our field, including supporting a rigorous longitudinal study of hematologists in training, holding a summit on mentoring in early 2020, creating a task force focusing on early-career PhDs in hematology, and beginning conversations around novel training pathways for hematologists, such as hematology-only tracks. Simultaneously, our tireless advocacy for an evidence-based approach to maintenance of board certification in hematology seems to have gained traction, as the ABIM is finally getting in line with recommendations of experts in adult learning and with other boards within the ABMS to move away from high-stakes periodic summative exams for recertification.

As a hematologist who has devoted my clinical and academic career to hemostasis and thrombosis (HT), I encouraged ASH during my tenure as an officer to examine ways in which our Society could better engage with this core constituency. An HT working group of ASH volunteers was established nearly three years ago, and several exciting projects have been developed or are under development. This year we will again hold a special reception for the HT community at the annual meeting and also pilot a novel “poster walk” wherein hematology trainees interested in HT can participate in a curated walking tour led by recognized HT knowledge leaders, and during which six high-impact posters will be discussed. Lastly, I encourage everyone to take a look at the special “Focus on Classical Hematology” supplement to the October edition of ASH Clinical News. This edition includes an interview with me as well as more detailed information on numerous HT-related ASH activities.

It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve as ASH president in 2019. It has been one of the most meaningful experiences of my career. I look forward to seeing many of you in Orlando in December.

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