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 people worldwide.
Jane Winter, M.D.
President, American Society of Hematology (ASH), Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine
Over the last six decades, hematologists have made momentous strides in research, including the development of new, cutting-edge therapeutic technologies that have paved the way for remarkable advances in the treatment of many serious blood diseases.
CAR T-cell therapy is a prime example of a revolutionary new method of care. The therapy involves taking a person’s immune cells from their blood, reprogramming the immune cells to target the patient’s blood cancer, and then returning these new “guided missiles” to the patient as a transfusion. This new treatment has shown tremendous promise among people with blood cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma. ASH is committed to improving the safety, effectiveness, and availability of revolutionary new cancer therapies such as CAR T-cells. In addition, ASH is working to speed research and development of other promising technologies on the horizon, including gene therapies and genome editing techniques for the treatment of individuals living with chronic blood diseases.
Building the next generation
Despite these advances, there are still gaps in access to quality care for people living with blood disorders. For example, sickle cell disease (SCD) is an inherited blood disorder that affects nearly 100,000 Americans, predominantly those with African ancestry. Unfortunately, there are barriers to high-quality care for individuals living with SCD in the United States, including racial and ethnic disparities, health insurance costs and coverage issues, and socioeconomic status inequities.
There is also another important issue: the shortage of specialists trained to diagnose and treat the disease. In studies of hematology-oncology fellows, most fellows favored careers combining hematology and oncology, with more fellows identifying oncology, rather than hematology, as their primary focus. The current demand for hematologists in the United States is projected to exceed the existing supply, meaning that people living with SCD will not have healthcare providers with the specialized expertise needed to manage the condition. In recognition of this issue, ASH has made an extraordinary investment in the creation of new hematology-focused fellowship tracks at academic institutions throughout the country. This new program will foster training of the next generation of hematologists and help to ensure that all those with blood disorders can receive the care they need and deserve.
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 the disease. 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 critically needed to make this exciting science count for patients.
For those interested in learning 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 to conquer blood diseases, please visit www.hematology.org/foundation. One hundred percent of your donation is used to support ASH’s efforts to cure blood diseases.