Mikkael Sekeres, MD, MS, serves as chair of the ASH Committee on Communications. He is a professor of medicine and chief of the division of hematology at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
1. If you were to compile a bucket list, what would top that list?
I honestly don’t have a professional bucket list, as many of the opportunities of which I have been most proud — such as being editor-in-chief of ASH Clinical News or chair of the ASH Committee on Communications —— were ones I never anticipated five years before they happened! My personal bucket list is to live long enough to see my three children settled in their adult lives, happy, and fulfilled. Oh, yeah, and to learn how to play the guitar.
2. What ASH luminary do you most admire?
Gee, there are so many ASH members and staff who have taught me about leadership, it’s hard to narrow down the list! My mentors for how to conduct meaningful clinical research and for providing superlative clinical care of patients with hematologic malignancies are Richard Stone, MD, and Stephanie Lee, MD, MPH. They are both my North Stars.
3. What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
When I lived on my own for the first time, my mom told me, “If you can read, you can cook.” When I had my first child, my dad reminded me, “Parenting is unskilled labor.” Both pieces of advice addressed new situations and having the confidence to problem solve to find solutions on my own. I have applied these principles to my entire scientific investigative, and writing career.
4. When I’m down, ________ brings me up.
My family and friends always buoy me. I’m lucky to have great friends in and out of hematology, from every stage of my life, and they are incredibly supportive.
5. What’s your one can’t-miss presentation or event at the ASH annual meeting?
As a leukemia/MDS doc, I suggest that everyone attend the MDS and AML oral sessions! After hours, I highly recommend the Miami Nights party Sunday night. We’ve got a great band!
6. What’s your hidden talent?
I wish a knew a cool party trick like tying a cherry stem in a knot with my tongue, but I don’t! I do believe that everyone has an academic superpower, and I guess mine is writing. Outside of work, I’m a handyman, and I feel pretty comfortable with basic plumbing, electrical, and carpentry projects — some of it even up to code! It harkens back to problem solving.
7. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
New York-style thin crust pizza.
8. What’s been your greatest success?
Being a good father and husband, I hope! Within hematology, I guess it would be maintaining a focus on how research in myeloid malignancies — be it basic, basic translational, clinical, epidemiologic, patient-reported outcomes, and/or regulatory research — remains unremittingly focused on bringing meaningful benefits to patients.
9. When starting my career, I wish I had known …
… that you make your own opportunities, and to always be open to collaborations. Play well with others in the sandbox.
10. What’s your favorite CD or album?
I honestly like all kinds of music, from alternative and classic rock, to West Coast and East Coast rap, to bluegrass, Latin, and pop. Today, I’m in the mood for Nirvana’s “From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah,” so let’s go with that.