Fighting Back Against Cutbacks and Highlights from the ASH Practice Partnership Lunch

Fighting Back Against Cutbacks: ASH Announces Fourth-Round of Bridge Grant Recipients

Biomedical researchers are operating in a tepid – lukewarm, at best – funding environment. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), a major source of research funding, has experienced across-the-board funding cuts and a steady budget decline, from a peak of $31.2 billion in 2010 to $30.15 billion in 2014. Over the past decade, research grants awarded by the NIH have also declined 20 percent – leading some young researchers in the lurch or scrambling for scant remaining research dollars.

In 2012, ASH launched its Bridge Grant program to help hematologists continue their critical blood disease research amidst severe funding reductions. This grant program supports ASH members whose R01 (or equivalent) grant proposals could not be funded by the NIH, despite earning high scores.

Several categories across the breadth of hematology research are supported: basic, translational, patient-oriented, and outcomes-based.

Recipients of the ASH Bridge Grant Award receive a total of $150,000 over one year, providing short-term relief to help “bridge” talented hematology investigators to their next NIH research grant. In the long term, though, continued investment in NIH is necessary to keep U.S. biomedical research moving forward.

The Society provides a total of about 30 one-year awards in two award cycles annually. Below are the recipients of the fourth round of ASH Bridge Grant recipients:

  • Diane F. Jelinek, PhD, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN
  • Mark Y. Chiang, MD, PhD, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
  • Fotis Asimakopoulos, MD, PhD, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI
  • Tatiana V. Byzova, PhD, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, OH
  • Frits van Rhee, MD, PhD, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR
  • W. Stratford May, MD, PhD, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
  • Lisa Borghesi, PhD, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA

Notification of application acceptance for the fifth round of Bridge Grants will be sent in early February 2015. Applications for the sixth round of grants will be available in mid-February 2015, with a deadline of April 15, 2015.

For more information about eligibility requirements, visit www.hematology.org/Awards/Career-Training.


Whither the Practice of Hematology in an Era of Mergers? Highlights from the 2014 ASH Practice Partnership Lunch

Each year at the ASH Annual Meeting, the ASH Practice Partnership (APP) – a network of practicing hematologists – hosts an annual luncheon to hear from nationally recognized speakers on issues affecting practice throughout the country, from payment to administrative burden to drug access.

This year, the APP lunch, led by Steven Allen, MD, chair of ASH’s Committee on Practice, featured remarks from Alice Gosfield, Esq., a renowned health-care attorney, and Andrew Pecora, MD, president of one of the largest specialty practices in the country, discussed a central question: “Whither the practice of hematology in an era of mergers?”

According to ASH’s recent survey of practicing members, Dr. Allen noted, only 25 percent of ASH members in practice were still in a traditional private practice setting, while 47 percent worked in an academic setting, and 28 percent for some kind of non-academic entity not owned by physicians. Driven by declining payments and expanding expectations from payers and the government, many hematologists are choosing to align with hospitals or larger health-care systems in recent years.

In her experience, Ms. Gosfield noted that most hospital integrations are poised to fail because, instead of focusing on clinical integration, many contracts are mere acquisitions. Hematologists should be cautious in exploring mergers, she advised, to ensure that their professional autonomy is maintained and that they are able to reacquire their businesses in the future if the partnership is no longer tenable.

Dr. Pecora, president of Regional Cancer Care Associates, a practice covering more than 26 locations throughout the state of New Jersey, provided the physician perspective. Collecting quality clinical data is essential to ensure that physicians can demonstrate value in new payment models, he said, and position themselves as collaborators with hospitals – rather than employees.

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