The Inaugural ASH Meeting on Hematologic Malignancies: A Discussion With the Co-Chairs

New clinical and biologic data within lymphoid and myeloid malignancies, including newly completed clinical trials, novel drugs, and insight into the genetic basis of these varied diseases is coming so fast and furiously, it is leaving clinicians in an information gap. The inaugural ASH Meeting on Hematologic Malignancies looks to close that gap.

The September meeting in Chicago will feature discussions with international experts in hematologic malignancies on the latest developments in clinical care and the clinically relevant mechanisms underlying these diseases. Of course, they’ll offer highlights from major research in their respective disease states, but they’ll pair those data with lessons learned from personal experience.

To help attendees find answers to their most challenging patient care questions, the majority of the program content will be structured as “How I Treat” sessions on core malignancies – including the areas of leukemia, lymphoma, myelodysplastic syndromes, myeloma, and myeloproliferative neoplasms. Each presentation will showcase the speaker’s evidence-based treatment approaches, ranging from standard of care, specialized disease complications, and novel agent discussions.

ASH Clinical News asked the meeting’s Program Co-Chairs to tell us more about the “how” and the “why” behind the new meeting.


Who is the primary audience for ASH Meeting on Hematologic Malignancies?

Joseph M. Connors, MD: The meeting program was designed with clinicians who take care of patients day-to-day in mind, so the target audience would be community-based physicians and academic clinicians who actively treat patients.

Kenneth C. Anderson, MD: In addition to community practitioners, I think the meeting will attract other members of the caregiver team, such as nurse practitioners, those in early training years, and those in fellowship.

The “How I Treat” format of the meeting is unique to the Meeting on Hematologic Malignancies – why was that format chosen for the program?

Martin S. Tallman, MD: “How I Treat” is a hugely successful feature of Blood, and a wonderful feature for clinicians. The case-based approach also lends itself to a meeting format that is very practical and focuses on caring for patients and managing their disease. The meeting offers an opportunity for people to learn what experts are doing with their hematologic malignancy patients on a real-time basis.

Given the current emphasis on evidence-based medicine, how will this expert opinion and experience enhance a clinician’s practice?

Dr. Tallman: Very often in medicine, there may be no data to support a certain treatment course in a patient; regardless of the lack of an evidence base, come Monday morning, you still have to treat that patient. So, for those presenting at the meeting, we gave them clear guidelines: “Where there is evidence, tell people what you do and why you do it within the context of that evidence. But where there is no evidence, simply tell people what you do.”

Evidence-based medicine is absolutely a component of the meeting program, but it is tied to expert-based opinion, as well. In selecting speakers for the meeting, we sought clinicians who are known to be good communicators and educators – that was a very important criterion for us, and I think attendees will benefit from their expertise.

Dr. Connors: What we wanted was a set of experts who are thoroughly grounded in the available evidence, but who also have extensive experience in a disease state. When they have been directly confronted by a lack of evidence – as I’m sure every clinician has, at some point – they have had to develop sensible decisions about treatment.

Dr. Anderson: The current pace of advances in medicine from bench to bedside is so rapid that the best way to convey the optimal use of these agents is through examples from real-life practice. The case-based format we’ve chosen means practitioners can really appreciate how to integrate these new advances into their own practice.

Are there any sessions that you consider “can’t-miss?”

Dr. Connors: We organized the meeting to allow people to attend all the sessions – so they hopefully won’t have to worry about missing any! Attendees will be able to see presentations of diseases that they commonly encounter, but also the full range of hematologic malignancies. We thought it was important to give physicians the opportunity to understand what is going on in the areas that they don’t see as frequently in the clinic, but which they should remain abreast of.

Dr. Anderson: The sessions are divided according to the disease states – lymphoid and myeloid malignancies – over the meetings’ three days. Personally, I think all of the sessions are essential in order to truly stay up-to-date on the medical advances and how to deliver the best care to your patients.

The ASH Meeting on Hematologic Malignancies is accepting submissions for peer-reviewed abstracts and posters to be presented at the meeting — what can attendees expect from the abstract and poster presentations?

Dr. Connors: There is a continually emerging evidence base in hematologic malignancies and we hope that people will bring insights to this meeting that will help us advance past the current evidence. The current evidence base is generally inadequate for all the potential questions regarding treatment and patient management that will arise.

Dr. Anderson: Our hope is that trainees and early clinical researchers will present cutting-edge findings in the poster sessions. On top of that, I think the posters offer a good opportunity to meet with the studies’ primary investigators to discuss results and interact with those researchers.

Dr. Tallman: We’d also like to emphasize to people who are considering submission of an abstract or poster that they may submit the identical abstract to this meeting and the 2015 ASH Annual Meeting – and that submitting an abstract to the ASH Meeting on Hematologic malignancies won’t hurt your chance of getting the same abstract accepted to the Annual Meeting! Attendees will have ample opportunity to interact with their colleagues who present abstracts or posters – that isn’t always possible at a larger meeting – so we really want attendees to take advantage of this small-meeting format.

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