ASH is back. And it’s going to be the most sensational, inspirational, celebrational (I’d say all superlatives short of Muppetational) meeting yet! That feeling you may have had as a child, waiting for Kermit to introduce the very special guest star, flailing his froggy little felt arms in the air with unbridled enthusiasm. That. That is the feeling I have coming back to the ASH Annual Meeting. (Cue an exuberant “YAAAAAAY!”)
And just as the velvet curtain would lift, so the annual meeting program is revealed, and it promises to be as unique, varied, and dynamic as the beloved puppet-replete variety show (but with a lot more, well, science).
Emerging themes include maternal health with Special-Interest Sessions addressing hematology and pregnancy, as well as obstetric management and complications associated with specific hematologic conditions such as sickle cell disease and others. Catch Drs. Amanda Blackmon and Idoroenyi Amanam’s round-up of all the key sessions in this Preview edition article. Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) remains an important focal point, bringing marginalized populations and underrepresented minorities not only to the forefront of our clinical trials, but importantly, to our thoughts, discussions, and communities. Dr. Juliana Perez Botero shares her take on where to be and what to see for all that is DEI. You know, speaking of DEI, and never being one to give up on a theme, thinking back on it, the Muppets’ inclusion and diversity game was actually pretty solid. Everyone was welcome … A chorus of sailor pigs, bears, and parrots singing the Banana Boat Song? Yes, please. A duo of furry pink creatures warbling “Mah Nà Mah Nà?” What were they? It didn’t matter, you just instantly loved them. We could probably learn a lesson here about acceptance, harmony, and really relishing the beauty and strength in our diversity.
Now, for lack of segue, do you remember the Muppet Show’s recurring sketch Pigs in Space? (I promise this is going somewhere). If you don’t, that’s okay. Because it was just a sketch depicting PIGS IN SPACE. It was preposterous, but bold. It was a new frontier, of sorts, and it was smart (the leads were Captain Link Hogthrob and Dr. Strangepork, ok? … smart). And so much of this year’s annual meeting program is also proudly forging new pathways — the once science fiction–like notion of gene therapy and “reprogramming our fate” is now a reality with increasingly vast applications. New technologies of artificial intelligence and machine learning are becoming increasingly leveraged to enhance our research methods and inclusivity of our studies. Another theme strikingly apparent in this year’s program is challenging the dogma: downscaling therapeutic regimens, decentralizing clinical trials, and adoption of the term “classical” over “benign” hematology as a designation that embraces the richness of the history of our field and that more accurately represents the realities of our patients.
Finally, lighting the lights should not be a problem in New Orleans, our cool and vibrant host city. In fact, this year, ASH-a-Palooza will be held at Mardi Gras World on Friday, December 9, and we invite all trainees to join the rolling parade of learning, mentorship, and networking, all in the spirit of laissez les bon temps rouler.
So, as a proud and nerdily ecstatic member of the ASH News Daily editorial family, as we prepare to raise the curtains, I want to sincerely thank all members of the team and you the reader, in hopes that we will provide helpful directives and honest perspectives to help you navigate and fully appreciate this year’s meeting. Don’t forget to connect with us on social media, and most of all, don’t forget to learn, share, have fun, grab a beignet, and take it all in! You’ve waited long enough. And now, well, it’s time to get things started. Why don’t we get things started…
Dr. Szuber indicated no relevant conflicts of interest.
About the Deputy Editor: Dr. Natasha Szuber (@NatashaSzuber) is an alumnus of McGill University in Montreal, where she earned a master’s degree, and of the University of Montreal where she attended medical school. After finishing an advanced hematology myeloid fellowship at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, she returned to her native Canada where she works today at Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital in Montreal, Quebec, where she currently resides. 2022 will be her second year serving on the ASH News Daily board: “Last year, I was absolutely delighted to make my foray into the marvelous and fantastical world of ASH as author/member of the editorial board of ASH News Daily,” she shared. “This was like finding my golden ticket. And the experience was even better than lickable wallpaper and fizzy lifting drinks!” Dr. Szuber also shared that she was fortunate this year to be a participant in the ASH Clinical Research Training Institute, which was, in her words, “…life changing. The concept and experience of CRTI is sheer genius and felt like a rite of passage into the realm of clinical research, offering mentorship, practical tools, and a collaborative network that felt like a family.”
In addition to representing Canada on the ASH News Daily board, Dr. Szuber is currently into Ace Frehley’s “New York Groove,” as well as the band Ace, Jeopardy, and vitamin gummies. Before finding her stride in the medical field, she played 12-string guitar and sang in a band, actually recorded an album at Le Studio (where Rush and The Police recorded), and toured across Canada in a van. “Every part of it was amazing. Except for the van.”