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#ASH21 Comes Back to Life

November 11, 2021
Naseema Gangat, MBBS

Dr. Naseema Gangat (@n_gangat), Editor of the 2021 ASH News Daily, is an associate professor of medicine in the Division of Hematology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. She specializes in adult hematology and has a special interest in myeloproliferative neoplasms, myelodysplastic syndromes, and acute leukemia. She received her medical degree at Aga Khan University in Karachi, Pakistan, the city that also happens to be her hometown. She moved to the United States to pursue an internal medicine residency followed by hematology/oncology fellowship training at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Dr. Gangat first got involved with ASH News Daily in 2018 as an Author. If the Burberry reference wasn’t a hint, Dr. Gangat is a proud “fashion-enthusiast” and regular attendee at London Fashion Week as well as Beverly Hills (Rodeo Drive) runway events — occasions known for being almost as exhilarating as the ASH annual meeting. 

Dear Colleagues, 

Naseema Gangat, MBBS

A rainbow-themed welcome, symbolic of joy, peace, promise, hope, solidarity, and inclusivity, awaits the much-anticipated ASH annual meeting as it returns as an in-person–virtual hybrid event this year. Atlanta plays host, welcoming back the global hematology community to a celebration of scientific creativity and digital innovation while maintaining high standards of safety with the must-have accessories: face mask and health pass. Historically, the annual meeting has served as a reunion of sorts, and more than ever it feels like a season of reunion as ASH hosts a welcome reception on Friday, December 9 (6:00-8:00 p.m.). The hematology world yearns for live scientific interactions and is overjoyed with the comeback of the physical event, which is supplemented with a virtual platform — a reminder to acquaint yourself with the digital platform boasting enhanced networking and participation features during orientation offered on Preview Days, Wednesday and Thursday, December 8 and 9. 

A sense of nostalgia accompanies the return of the live annual meeting. Reflecting on the pandemic-induced changes, our experiences over the past 18 months have instilled gratitude, resilience, patience, prioritization, and flexibility — much-needed attributes for rigorous scientific inquiry, learning, and compassionate patient care — all of which are well-reflected in this year’s program. Here is a primer on novel and recurring themes at #ASH21. 

ASH-a Palooza’s Innovation at The Tabernacle. Much to the delight of learners and mentors, this innovative educational event is back at the famed Tabernacle, which boasts a rich history, ironically starting off as a medical center and nursing school before its present operations as a music venue. 

COVID-19 Demystified. As we continue to learn of the elusive impact of COVID-19 infection and its interface with hematology, the inspirational contributions of ASH and the hematology community have been made easy to navigate through special sessions on COVID-19. Foremost, in-depth analyses on outcomes data from the ASH COVID-19 registry, including response to vaccination among patients with benign and malignant hematologic conditions, are unveiled, in addition to novel mechanisms of COVID-induced thromboses. 

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Take Center Stage. As famed designer Christopher Bailey opined, “There has never been a more important time to say that in our diversity lies our strength and creativity.” The meeting program this year drives home a deep-rooted issue with the debut of the Anti-Racism Studio and several presentations touching upon age, gender, LGBTQ topics, race, and socioeconomic inequities. For those in Atlanta, be sure not to miss Sunday’s Grassroots Network Lunch with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, as well as the Health Equity Rounds taking place on December 11 and 12. 

Plenum: An Impactful Show. We celebrate the sheer dedication of our collaborative teams for keeping on with the momentum with continued pivotal scientific discoveries and enrollment in clinical trials, as highlighted in this year’s Plenary Scientific Session covering all aspects of hematologic science, and inclusive of COVID-19. 

Award Lectureships: A Masterclass. Huge congratulations to this year’s award recipients! We look forward to hearing of your scientific expeditions. 

Crossword version 13.0. Take a mental break with the obligatory ASH crossword by Dr. David Steensma. 

Atlanta: An Optimistic View. The annual meeting is a real nexus of colleagues getting together. Attempting to erase #ASH17 snowstorm memories, my top picks to explore include the CNN, World of Coca-Cola, Georgia Aquarium, Centennial Olympic Park, Atlanta Botanical Garden, Phipps Plaza, and Lenox Square. 

As preparations for the annual meeting are in full swing with a frenzy of activities — recording talks, finalizing posters, and navigating the web program — the ASH News Daily editorial team strives to shed light and offer perspectives on practice-changing seminal observations, along with emerging areas of investigation. I am deeply indebted to each member of the team, particularly the ASH communications staff, for their invaluable efforts toward a successful publication. 

On behalf of the ASH News Daily team, I extend a heartfelt welcome to #ASH21— the inaugural hybrid annual meeting offering “the best of both worlds.” Wishing each of you a memorable, inspirational, and safe meeting in Atlanta or elsewhere. And let’s stay connected during and after the meeting on social media. See the 2021 Social Media Guide for more on hashtags and other social media tools. 

Dr. Gangat indicated no relevant conflicts of interest. 

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