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Programs

General Sessions

Announcement of Awards: Wallace H. Coulter Award for Lifetime Achievement in Hematology, ASH Mentor Awards, ASH Award for Leadership in Promoting Diversity, ASH Outstanding Service Award, and ASH Public Service Award

WALLACE H. COULTER AWARD FOR LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT IN HEMATOLOGY

Wallace H. Coulter was a prolific inventor, innovator, and entrepreneur. His Coulter Principle pioneered the development of flow cytometry, defined particle characterization, and made possible automated hematology, thus revolutionizing laboratory medicine. The Coulter Counter led to major breakthroughs in science, medicine, and industry. This award, in his name, recognizes an individual who has demonstrated a lasting commitment to the field of hematology through outstanding contributions to education, research, and practice.

ASH will recognize Irving Weissman, MD, of the Stanford Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, with the 2022 Wallace H. Coulter Award for Lifetime Achievement in Hematology. He has made monumental contributions to hematology over the past 56 years. As a trailblazer in cancer stem cell biology, he is best known for his research on hematopoiesis, leukemia, and hematopoietic stem cells.

Dr. Weissman's fascination with microbiology began at the age of ten after reading Microbe Hunters. The book taught him the role of microbes in vaccine development, and, more importantly, the principle that scientific discoveries can be translated for clinical use. Decades later, at Stanford University Medical School, Dr. Weissman worked in stem cell research. After graduation, his research journey continued: in 1988, his laboratory was the first to discover and isolate blood-forming stem cells from mice, and in 1992 he published the first isolation of human blood-forming stem cells. From there, the group began pivotal clinical trials on women with metastatic breast cancer. They developed a method to isolate the blood-forming stem cells free from the cancer cells, enabling these cells to be delivered back to patients after chemotherapy as treatment for the underlying disease. This discovery revolutionized the cancer community’s understanding of stem cells’ role in drug development. Dr. Weissman and colleagues later discovered that CD47, an age marker on red blood cells that scientists can use to detect emerging cancerous stem cells, could be targeted with blocking antibodies to treat blood cancers with low-dose azacytidine and drug-resistant lymphomas when paired with rituximab. Dr. Weissman’s work established hematopoietic stem cells as the paradigm for mammalian stem cell biology and transformed the way scientists and physicians approach blood cancers in the lab and clinic.

ASH MENTOR AWARD

The ASH Mentor Award was established to recognize hematologists who have excelled in mentoring trainees and colleagues. Each year the Society recognizes two outstanding mentors  who have had a significant, positive impact on their mentees' careers and, through their mentees, have advanced research and patient care in the field of hematology.

ASH will recognize Michael Caligiuri, MD, of City of Hope National Medical Center, with the 2022 ASH Mentor Award. He has dedicated much of his career to mentoring the next generation of physicians, scientists, and physician-scientists: over the last three decades, he has mentored more than 100 individuals and has had a profound impact on their careers. Dr. Caligiuri first realized his passion for mentorship after struggling in physiology class while in medical school. He searched for ways to break down complex concepts and developed his own lectures. After the chair of the department allowed him to deliver two of his lectures to first-year medical students, he saw the effect his teaching abilities had on fellow students; he received the highest evaluation scores among all the lecturers in the year-long course and continued to deliver the lectures for his remaining time in medical school. Dr. Caligiuri derives great satisfaction from giving educational and career advice based on his own 35-year journey in academic medicine and the excellent guidance he received throughout his career from his mentor, the late Clara D. Bloomfield, MD. He has played a critical role in supporting ASH’s Minority Medical Student award program (MMSAP) and has fostered the careers of many students who have pursued hematology professionally. He has made a special effort to foster diversity and inclusion in medicine by leading, along with his wife Ani, “Diversity, Dialogue and Dinner,” where Black medical students, physicians, and community leaders came together to discuss the inherent challenges they faced in their professional lives as a result of their race. Dr. Caligiuri’s own research focuses on exploring human natural killer cell biology and immune therapy for the treatment of hematologic malignancies and solid tumors.

ASH will recognize Christopher Flowers, MD, MS, of MD Anderson Cancer Center, with the 2022 ASH Mentor Award. He is a leading lymphoma provider and world-renowned epidemiology expert who has served as a research mentor and advocate for his mentees throughout their careers. Dr. Flowers is committed to recruiting and mentoring underrepresented minorities and co-developed the ASH Minority Recruitment Initiative (MRI), which provides a 13-year pipeline of awards extending from the first year of medical school to faculty positions. Dr. Flowers first realized his passion for mentorship as a medical student, when he studied the work of a group of physicians who served as “clinical champions” and dramatically sped the process of drug development. This inspired Dr. Flowers to become a clinical champion himself. Later, his formative experiences with his own mentors through his residency and fellowships inspired him to pay such guidance forward. His formal mentoring roles have included sponsoring participants in the ASH Minority Medical Student Award Program, the ASH Amos Minority Faculty Development Program, and many other training programs. He also served as a faculty member and Co-Chair of the ASH Clinical Research Training Institute (CRTI). Dr. Flowers’ own clinical research has primarily focused on developing observational studies, which are now viewed as “real-world evidence,” and he currently leads a large multi-center cohort study in lymphoma.

ASH AWARD FOR LEADERSHIP IN PROMOTING DIVERSITY

The ASH Award for Leadership in Promoting Diversity honors hematologists who have supported the development of an inclusive hematology workforce, who have encouraged the career development of underrepresented minority trainees, who have made the commitment to inclusiveness in contributions to the mission of ASH, or who have made accomplishments that aim to eliminate health disparities in the care of hematology patients.

ASH will recognize James Gavin, MD, PhD, of Emory University School of Medicine and Indiana University School of Medicine, and David Wilkes, MD, of the University of Virginia School of Medicine, with the 2022 ASH Award for Leadership in Promoting Diversity. They are being honored for their decades of commitment to diversity in medicine through their leadership of the Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program (AMFDP) of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Together they have contributed 28 years of service to the program and continue to serve as eminent leaders in their respective fields. Since 1983, AMFDP has supported 330 scholars, many of whom have gone on to be professors, department chairs, and leaders at the National Institutes of Health and the National Academy of Medicine.

Dr. Gavin has participated in AMFDP for 39 years and served as director for 20 years. His contributions were instrumental in shaping the ASH-AMDFP partnership to increase diversity in hematology. Early in his career, he became fascinated with diabetes, a disease that had affected his family and continues to affect African American populations disproportionately. He devoted his life’s research to uncovering ways to improve diabetes outcomes. Beyond his own research, Dr. Gavin served as a role model for many medical trainees. Through AMFDP, he learned how influential mentorship could be on student success. He guided many students and trainees through their medical careers and is devoted to helping underrepresented students in medicine overcome systemic barriers to entry. Dr. Gavin’s most notable accomplishments include serving as the first African American president of the American Diabetes Association, the president of the Morehouse School of Medicine, and a senior science officer at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute-NIH Scholars program. He has made unparalleled contributions to medicine through his pioneering research in diabetes, leadership, advocacy, and, most notably, his dedication to advancing the careers of students, trainees, and physician-scientists.

Dr. Wilkes has served as the national director of AMFDP since 2013 and has given several national presentations and published many studies on eliminating bias and reducing discrimination in health professions. He is a leading physician and scientist who has made significant contributions to immunology and is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine. As a pulmonologist and critical care physician, he focuses on research to uncover what drives the immunology of lung transplant rejections. Throughout his career, Dr. Wilkes and his colleagues have worked to understand the mechanisms behind graft-versus-host-disease (GVHD). Their work led to the development of a drug for pulmonary fibrosis, the endpoint of lung transplant rejection caused by GVHD. Dr. Wilkes is motivated to promote diversity in hematology because of the profound ways that unique perspectives improve academic medicine and increase cultural competency in patient care.

2022 ASH ADVOCACY AWARDS

The ASH Advocacy Awards provide an opportunity for ASH to continue to build relationships with congressional and federal agency champions of health care. The ASH Public Service Award recognizes and honors an elected public official who has served as an effective advocate for government support of biomedical research and hematology practice. The ASH Outstanding Service Award is awarded to individuals in either the public or private sector who have displayed effective behind-the-scenes leadership in areas relevant to the mission of the Society.

ASH will recognize Keith Hoots, MD, of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and Senators Jacky Rosen, John Barrasso, and Tammy Baldwin for the 2022 ASH Advocacy Awards.

ASH Outstanding Service Award

Dr. Keith Hoots, of the Director of the Division of Blood Diseases and Resources at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), will be recognized with the 2022 ASH Outstanding Service Award.  Dr. Hoots has been a tireless advocate for hematology research. He joined NHLBI in 2009 after working at the University of Texas (UT) Medical School at Houston in a number of important roles: professor of pediatrics and division head of pediatric hematology; section head of pediatric hematology, UT MD Anderson Cancer Center; and medical director, Gulf States Hemophilia and Thrombophilia Treatment Center. Under the leadership of Dr. Hoots, the Division of Blood Diseases and Resources has continued to be a leader in research on the causes, prevention, and treatment of non-neoplastic blood diseases through the launch of efforts such as the Cure Sickle Cell Initiative and the development of programs to support the workforce in nonmalignant hematology. Additionally, Dr. Hoots has provided updates on NHLBI’s hematology efforts at Committee on Government Affairs meetings, served as an author in ASH publications, and participated in many of the Society’s programs and activities.

ASH Public Service Award 

Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV), John Barrasso (R-WY), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) will be recognized with the 2022 ASH Public Service Award. 

Senator Rosen is the author and lead sponsor of the Improving Access to Transfusion Care for Hospice Patients Act of 2021 (S. 2566). The legislation, which was introduced in July 2021 and is strongly supported by ASH, seeks to ensure that patients with blood cancers and other hematologic diseases and conditions receive high-quality end-of-life care by establishing a demonstration program that would provide a separate payment model to promote the provision of palliative blood transfusions in hospice. This would ensure Medicare payments for blood transfusions outside the hospice bundled payment.

Senators Barrasso and Baldwin, who serve as co-chairs of the Senate Comprehensive Care Caucus with Senator Rosen, joined her in introducing the Improving Access to Transfusion Care for Hospice Patients Act of 2021.

Chair:

Jane N. Winter, MD
Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center
Chicago, IL

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Announcement of Awards: William Dameshek Prize and Henry M. Stratton Medals

WILLIAM DAMESHEK PRIZE

The William Dameshek Prize, named for the late William Dameshek, MD, a past president of ASH and the original editor of Blood, recognizes an early- or mid-career individual who has made a recent outstanding contribution to the field of hematology.

Irene Ghobrial, MD, of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, is being recognized for her research on the mechanisms underlying disease progression in myeloma. Through her work, she has challenged standard myeloma patient care by leading screening for early detection of the disease, uncovering novel biomarkers for risk stratification, and disrupting the traditional myeloma treatment paradigm with innovative trials in smoldering myeloma. While Dr. Ghobrial has made many significant contributions to her field, her most notable research accomplishments include leading, PROMISE, the first screening study in the US and the first study to ever screen high-risk individuals. PROMISE detected MGUS/SMM, a precursor molecule for myeloma, in more than 30,000 individuals deemed to be at high risk of developing myeloma, many of whom are African American and first-degree relatives of patients with myeloma. Dr. Ghobrial and her colleagues are also pioneering early-intervention prevention strategies for myeloma using CAR-T cells.

HENRY M. STRATTON MEDAL

The Henry M. Stratton Medal is named after the late Henry Maurice Stratton, co-founder of Grune and Stratton, the medical publishing house that first published ASH’s journal Blood. The prize honors two senior investigators whose contributions to both basic and clinical/ translational hematology research are well recognized and have taken place over a period of several years.

Timothy Ley, MD, of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, the basic science awardee, is being recognized for leading the effort to sequence the first human cancer genomes, from patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). These studies helped to create a foundation for the Cancer Genome Atlas, and the discovery of many previously unknown drivers of AML. His research focuses on understanding the molecular underpinnings of AML, including the acquired mutations and altered gene expression patterns responsible for the disease’s initiation, progression, and relapse. He is currently studying AML initiating events, and how they "reprogram" hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells to make them more fit for transformation. He hopes that mechanism-based targeting of the initiating events may provide new approaches for treating myeloid malignancies.

Robert Montgomery, MD, of Versiti Blood Research Institute, the translational/clinical awardee, is being recognized for his substantial contributions to understanding hemophilia, von Willebrand disease (VWD), and interactions between von Willebrand factor (VWF) and Factor VIII (FVIII), both of which are critical components of hemostasis. Dr. Montgomery was the first to identify what became known as the VWF propeptide that shepherds the trafficking, bond formation, and storage of mature VWF within endothelial cells. He has led a VWD Program Project since 2005 that has identified problems with the stringency of VWD diagnosis, new causes of variant VWD, new functional assays for VWF, and developed rodent models of variant VWD and hemophilia. He also developed a novel approach for gene therapy of hemophilia A with inhibitors using ectopic expression of FVIII in platelets that binds, stores with VWF, and releases FVIII at sites of vessel injury where it is functional even in presence of high-titer FVIII inhibitory antibodies. His research has not only advanced our fundamental understanding of VWF and FVIII biosynthesis and function but also translated to the clinical diagnosis and management of VWD patients.

Chair:

Jane N. Winter, MD
Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center
Chicago, IL

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ASH-EHA Joint Symposium

Germline Predisposition and Hereditary Hematopoietic Neoplasia

A large number of cancer predisposition genes and associated syndromes have been recognized as underlying both pediatric and adult blood cancers. These conditions are being diagnosed with increased frequency based on clinical recommendations for cancer risk testing in particular patient populations and the availability of platforms that provide comprehensive testing. Identification of a germline susceptibility variant influences patient management, especially at the time of allogeneic stem cell transplantation and donor selection, implementation of additional cancer and other organ surveillance plans, and cascade testing throughout the family. This session will discuss disorders especially important for pediatric and adult age groups, outline current insight into malignancy pathogenesis, and workout similarities and differences in patient management across age groups.

Co-Chairs:

Elizabeth A. Macintyre, PhD, MD
Tour Pasteur Hopital Necker Enfants Malades
Paris, France

Jane N. Winter, MD
Northwestern University
Chicago, IL

Speakers:

Charlotte M. Niemeyer, MD
Albert-Ludwigs-Universitat Freiburg
Freiburg, Germany
European Speaker

Lucy A. Godley, MD,PhD
Univ. of Chicago Med. Ctr.
Chicago, IL
North American Speaker

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E. Donnall Thomas Lecture and Prize

The Long and Winding Road to Clinically Effective Graft-versus-Host Disease (GVHD) Therapeutics

Seminal studies of allogeneic bone marrow engraftment in leukemia patients were reported by Dr. Thomas in 1957. Approximately 25% of the first 200 patients succumbed to GVHD; none survived. Despite poor outcomes, Dr. Thomas persevered and led an team of talented clinician-scientists who used a canine model to advance GVHD prevention and therapy. Early GVHD prophylaxis in dogs and mice initially centered upon strategies that were globally immune suppressive. From preclinical mouse acute GVHD (aGVHD) studies, tacrolimus and sirolimus both of which are broadly immune suppressive, expanded our GVHD prophylaxis armamentarium. Targeted therapy blocking the CD28/CTLA4 costimulatory pathway, CTLA4-Ig ameliorated murine aGVHD. In ex vivo studies, blockade of T cell costimulation induced tolerance of donor T cells against host alloantigens that intriguingly proved to be dependent upon CD4+/CD25+ regulatory T cells (Tregs), a small population of suppressor cells. An unexpected outcome was proof that the infusion of donor Tregs reduced aGVHD in mice and later in patients.

Until recently, no GVHD drugs were approved. From 2017-21, four GVHD drugs were FDA approved. Following a phase II study, CTLA4-Ig, in combination with a calcineurin inhibitor and methotrexate, became the first FDA approved aGVHD regimen. Preclinical murine studies with phase 1b/2, open-label, multicenter data advanced ibrutinib, a Bruton’s tyrosine kinase inhibitor, as the first FDA approved cGVHD therapy. Belumosudil, a selective ROCK2 inhibitor, decreased murine pathogenic Th17 cells and fibrosis, while increasing Tregs. In conjunction with a phase 2, randomized multicenter registration trial for cGVHD treatment, belumosudil progressed to obtaining FDA approval. Ruxolitinib, a JAK1/2 inhibitor, reduced both acute and chronic murine GVHD. Multicenter, randomized, open-label phase 3 trials for steroid-refractory aGVHD or cGVHD showed clinical improvement. Ruxolitinib developed into the first aGVHD and third cGVHD FDA approved drug for treating steroid-refractory disease. This lecture will review the past, present and ongoing current efforts to enhance acute and chronic GVHD outcomes.

Chair:

Jane N. Winter, MD
Robert H. Lurie Comp. Cancer Center
Chicago, IL

Speaker:

Bruce R. Blazar, MD
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, MN
The Long and Winding Road to Clinically Effective Graft-versus-Host Disease (GVHD) Therapeutics

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Ernest Beutler Lecture and Prize

The Complement System and Medicine: the Good, the Bad, the Future

The complement system, a key pathway of the innate immune system, traces its origins to more than a billion years ago as primitive proteins evolved to protect against pathogens and to engage in cellular processes. As one of the first complex pathways to be identified in eukaryotes, it is highly conserved from single cell organisms to humans. The functions of the contemporary complement system center on protecting the host from infection through opsonization and lysis of microorganisms, inciting inflammation, removing senescent cells and debris, and driving intracellular signaling. Since the complement system developed early in evolution, it has close associations with many other cellular pathways including the coagulation cascade. The complement system comprises at least 60 proteins and fragments that ensure the rapid activation and amplification of the system when necessary but also the avoidance of inappropriate and deleterious complement activity.

Overactivation of the complement system contributes to the pathophysiology of many diseases including systemic lupus erythematosus, glomerulonephritis, arthritis, reperfusion cardiac injury, macular degeneration, atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS), and hereditary angioedema, among others.

Deficiencies of the complement system are implicated in autoimmune conditions and in a predisposition to infection, particularly by Neisseria meningitides. Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) is the archetypal complement-dependent disease in which most of the symptoms and complications are due to the loss of two specific complement inhibitors, decay accelerating factor (DAF/CD55) and membrane inhibitor of reactive lysis (MIRL/CD59), from the membranes of hematopoietic cells. Twenty years ago, the first successful trial of anti-complement therapy was performed in PNH subsequently leading in 2007 to the FDA approval of eculizumab, a C5 inhibitor. This not only presented a dramatic change in the management of PNH but also paved the way for the approval of eculizumab in other diseases including aHUS, myasthenia gravis and neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder. In addition, this early experience heralded the development of other complement inhibitors in many other diseases.

John Atkinson, MD, of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, will provide an update on the status of the three complement activation pathways and their regulators and receptors. The pathophysiologic basis of multiple diseases in which the hematologist, nephrologist, dermatologist, and rheumatologist often come together will be highlighted along with a focus on therapeutic agents, already approved or hoping soon to be in the marketplace.

Peter Hillmen, MD, PhD, of University of Leeds School of Medicine, will describe the development of anti-complement therapy and the recent developments in complement inhibition in PNH. He will give insights into the recent development of alternative complement inhibitors and their potential roles across medicine.

Chair:

Jane N. Winter, MD
Robert H. Lurie Comp. Cancer Center
Chicago, IL

Speakers:

John Atkinson, MD
Washington University
Saint louis, MO
Basic Science

Peter Hillmen, MD, PhD
St. James's University Hospital
Leeds, United Kingdom
Clinical/Translational Science

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Ham-Wasserman Lecture

Why is the risk of developing leukemia so high in children with Down syndrome and what can we do about it?

Children with Down syndrome have a more than 100-fold increased risk of developing acute myeloid leukemia before their 5th birthday compared to children without Down syndrome. Their risk of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is also increased by around 30-fold. In this lecture, Dr. Irene Roberts will discuss current knowledge about the biologic and molecular basis of this striking relationship between leukemia and Down syndrome, the role of trisomy 21 in leukemogenesis and the clinical implications of these findings. 

Dr. Roberts will focus mainly on Myeloid Leukemia of Down syndrome (ML-DS) which originates in utero and typically presents with a self-limiting, neonatal leukemic syndrome known as Transient Abnormal Myelopoiesis (TAM). TAM is caused by co-operation between trisomy 21-associated abnormalities of fetal hematopoiesis and somatic N-terminal mutations in the transcription factor gene GATA1. Around 10% of all neonates with Down syndrome have clinical signs of TAM although the frequency of hematologically silent GATA1 mutations in neonates with Down syndrome is much higher (~30%). While most cases of TAM/Silent TAM resolve without treatment within 3-4 months, in 10-20% of cases transformation to full-blown leukemia occurs within the first 4 years of life when cells harboring GATA1 mutations persist and acquire secondary mutations, most often in cohesin genes. 

Dr. Roberts will also touch on ALL in Down syndrome which presents after the first few months of life and is characterized by a high frequency of rearrangement of the CRLF2 gene often co-occurring with activating mutations in JAK2 or RAS genes. While treatment of ML-DS achieves long-term survival in ~90% of children, outcome of DS-ALL is inferior to ALL in children without Down syndrome. Ongoing studies in primary cells and model systems indicate that the role of trisomy 21 in Down syndrome leukemogenesis is complex and cell context-dependent but also show promise in developing new approaches to management, including treatment of relapse where outcome of both ML-DS and DS-ALL remains poor.

Chair:

Jane N. Winter, MD
Robert H. Lurie Comp. Cancer Center
Chicago, IL

Speaker:

Irene Roberts, MD
Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine
Oxford, ENG, United Kingdom
Leukemogenesis in Infants with Trisomy 21

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Presidential Symposium

What the Hematologist Has Learned from the Pandemic

Now in its third year, the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic persists and continues to evolve. There have been many lessons learned from the standpoint of public health, but also from our efforts to manage the complications of infection and to develop preventative and therapeutic strategies.   The hematologist has been called upon to address issues of thrombosis and thrombocytopenia related to COVID-19  but also as complications of vaccination. The application of mRNA technology led to highly effective vaccines within months, a previously unheard of timeline.  Yet, our immunocompromised patients have suffered disproportionately from infection and have in many cases failed to benefit from vaccination.   Our speakers will address the hematologic impact of SARS-CoV-2 infection and vaccination, the development of the mRNA vaccines and future applications of mRNA technology, and our current understanding of the immune response to SARS-CoV-2 and vaccination. 

 

Dr. Beverly Hunt will speak on thrombosis and coagulopathy in COVID-19  including immune-mediated thrombocytopenia and thrombosis related to vaccination.

Dr. Drew Weissman will speak on the development of the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines and emerging applications of mRNA technology.

Dr. Shane Crotty will discuss the immune response to SARS-CoV-2 and vaccination including implications for the care of immunocompromised patients.

Chair:

Jane N. Winter, MD
Robert H. Lurie Comp. Cancer Center
Chicago, IL

Speakers:

Beverley J. Hunt, OBE
King'sHealthcare Partners
London, ENG, United Kingdom
Thrombosis in COVID-19; to include complications of vaccination

Drew Weissman, MD, PhD
University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine
Philadelphia, PA
mRNA Vaccines and Other Applications of the Technology

Shane Crotty, PhD
La Jolla Institute for Immunology
La Jolla, CA
Caring for Heme Malignancies or immunocompromised patients during the pandemic to include B- and T-cell response issues to vaccination