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Message from the ASH President on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

As doctors, we understand the power of diverse perspectives to accelerate science and improve care. As professionals, we know that opportunities are not distributed equally within our field. As healers, we seek to dismantle disparities in health and health care, illustrated by the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black and other underserved communities.

As we reflect on the history of racism in the United States and confront the horrific events of these past few heartbreaking weeks, we at ASH are re-examining our role in addressing these injustices. We see and acknowledge the personal pain that systemic racism causes to many ASH members and the populations we serve.

ASH has a longstanding commitment to combating these inequities. In 2003, ASH formed the Committee on Promoting Diversity and started the Minority Recruitment Initiative. This initiative is dedicated to supporting scientists from backgrounds underrepresented in medicine. It has disbursed more than $12 million across 360 awards to increase minority participation in biomedical research and support the minority physician pipeline. In recognition that strong leadership is needed to support change, ASH has awarded the Leadership in Promoting Diversity Honorific Award since 2017, recognizing individuals with extraordinary commitment to diversity and inclusion.

More recently, ASH established the multifaceted Sickle Cell Disease Initiative to address the burden of sickle cell disease in the U.S. and globally. Currently we are working with members of Congress to create a pilot program for better access to health care for people living with sickle cell disease.

While we are proud of our efforts so far, we can and must do more. ASH has planned a series of listening sessions to learn about the experiences of members from diverse backgrounds, including racial/ethnic, gender, ability, and LGBTQ+. These sessions will take place this summer. Furthermore, ASH’s Committee on Promoting Diversity is reviewing our portfolio of programs and initiatives to see if there are other opportunities for ASH to make a difference. More information will be shared in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, for those of you wondering how you can help, the callout box includes some suggestions. We all have a role in moving toward a more just and equitable society, for our patients, for our colleagues, and for our field. We must stand united against racism in all forms.

ASH encourages you to share ideas, opportunities, and experiences with us to inform our work. If you have an idea about how we can do more to support your community please send an email to [email protected].