Stephanie J. Lee, M.D.
2020 President, American Society of Hematology (ASH), Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center; Professor, University of Washington
Do you know anyone with anemia, a blood clot, or excessive bleeding, or someone who received a blood transfusion of red cells or platelets? Or do you know anyone with a chronic blood disease like sickle cell disease or hemophilia? Have you or has someone you know had a blood cancer, such as leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma, or a myeloproliferative neoplasm?
Hematologists often take care of people with these diseases and do laboratory and clinical research to develop better treatments. The American Society of Hematology (ASH) is working with scientists, research institutions, pharmaceutical companies, and policymakers to accelerate scientific discovery, drug development, and deployment of new therapies to conquer blood diseases.
For more than 60 years, hematologists have made incredible strides in research that has revolutionized the treatment of many serious blood diseases, thanks to the development of new technologies and cutting-edge therapeutic strategies.
While treatments for some blood disorders have improved due to tremendous progress in clinical research and development of new therapies, other areas face ongoing challenges. A variety of blood-related diseases — from cancers like lymphoma and leukemia, to non-malignant diseases like hemoglobinopathies, platelet and bleeding disorders, and rare diseases of the blood forming system — continue to be associated with significant health problems and premature death, and need attention to reduce their burden and improve quality of care worldwide.
ASH is committed to improving the safety, effectiveness, and availability of revolutionary therapies, and we are actively promoting research to hasten their delivery.
The first understood molecular disease
For example, sickle cell disease (SCD) is an inherited blood disorder that affects nearly 100,000 Americans. SCD causes red blood cells to become rigid and sickle-shaped, leading to reduced oxygen flow to almost every organ, causing crises of severe pain, stroke, organ damage, and even death.
In the past year, we’ve seen tremendous progress with the approval of two additional treatment options for those living with SCD, and several research teams from around the globe are using the latest advancements in precision medicine to make cures in SCD possible. This includes using gene therapies and genome editing techniques to correct the genes responsible for this disease.
It’s still too early to deliver many of these therapies and cures to people, but scientists are hard at work making them a reality.
Perhaps you or a loved one has been affected by a blood disorder, and you would like to support new research that will contribute to novel treatments for these diseases. By becoming an advocate for hematology, you can help increase public awareness about blood disorders and support state and federal funding for research, which is critical to making this exciting science count for patients.
To learn more about blood health, the importance of funding biomedical research, and how you can get involved, please visit www.hematology.org/patients.
If you would like to donate to our efforts toconquer blood diseases, please visit www.hematology.org/foundation. One-hundred percent of your donation will be used to support hematology programs.