ASH has set aside $9 million to support the start of the ASH Bridge Grant Program through the ASH Foundation, which is dedicated to Moving Hematology Forward. The Foundation will first focus on providing support for critical research needs and will expand to develop programs that inspire the next generation of hematologists and that advance the quality of care for patients with hematologic disorders.
The Hematologist interviewed the chair and vice-chair of the ASH Development Committee to discuss why the ASH Foundation is being established and what it will accomplish. This is part one of a two-part series.
||James George, MD, of the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences
Center in Oklahoma City, is chair of the Development Committee. He is
past president of ASH and the recipient of the 2012 Wallace H. Coulter
Award for Lifetime Achievement in Hematology.
||Jay Bradner, MD, of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard
Medical School in Boston, is vice-chair of the Development Committee. He
is a physician-scientist with an interest in both benign and malignant
hematologic diseases working at the interface of cell biology and
chemistry. Dr. Bradner leads an academic research group focused on
identifying and developing targeted agents and moving them from the
discovery phase to the clinic.
The Hematologist: Why does ASH need a foundation?
Dr. George: I am concerned about the future of hematology research and the care of patients with hematologic disorders. Federal support for research through the National Institutes of Health has decreased every year for the past nine years. The uncertain future of academic careers in hematology is seriously limiting our ability to recruit the next generation of trainees. I’m alarmed by the possibility that opportunities for long and successful academic careers in hematology, as I have enjoyed, may diminish or disappear. The ASH Foundation is dedicated to addressing this challenging issue of declining support for hematology research head-on.
Dr. Bradner: The progressive decline in research funding arrives at the most inopportune moment in modern biomedicine — a time when, ironically, the etiology of blood diseases has never been better understood. We need to build on the existing momentum through both dedicated and focused attention on the funding shortfall that will become even more alarming if the government implements the sequestration process. In that case, funding could be further reduced by as much as 9 percent. Support for research and for research trainees will be a focal point of the Foundation. We must protect one of our most valuable resources, our dedicated physician/scientists, especially those who are in training or who are early-career investigators.
The Foundation will be a home for those who care passionately about
hematology and who are committed to supporting programs designed to
address the challenges that threaten to restrain innovation and growth
in the field.
The Hematologist: Why can’t this effort simply be a part of what ASH already does?
Dr. Bradner: Due to diligent management of the Society by ASH leadership and ASH staff, a number of non-revenue-generating programs and awards are funded each year in the ASH operating budget. But the creation of a foundation offers the chance to grow these philanthropic efforts through contributions from ASH members and supporters. I think the timing for this is perfect, as we hope to support additional ASH Bridge Grant Awards with donations to the ASH Foundation.
Dr. George: Of course the ASH Foundation is a part of ASH, but creating the ASH Foundation provides a new focus on the responsibility of individual members for sustaining our key programs and creating the opportunity for new initiatives. Many of the programs that ASH has developed generate revenue and can be self-sustained, but there are also programs, such as the new ASH Bridge Grant Awards, the ASH Scholar Awards program, the Clinical Research Training Institute, and ASH’s partnership with the Amos Minority Faculty Development Program (the ASH-AMFDP), that generate no revenue. These programs target trainees and junior faculty investigators. The importance of providing support and encouragement to the next generation of hematologists cannot be overstated.
The ability to sustain these programs in a time of uncertain future revenue requires new ideas and approaches to secure financial stability. We need the support of ASH membership to develop a new culture of giving. We need to recognize that we, as individual members, must feel responsible for supporting these programs, which are critical to the future of hematology. This is the Foundation’s mandate.
The Hematologist: How is ASH supporting the Foundation?
Dr. George: From its revenue, ASH will provide 100 percent of the indirect costs including administrative and management expenses. ASH will put to work savings that it has accumulated over the years to develop, through the Foundation, a sustainable base of support for our research and training programs. It is important for members to know that 100 percent of donations to the Foundation will be used for direct program costs. This means that all of what you donate goes directly to the programs you want to support.
Dr. Bradner: The ASH Foundation is a timely innovation of the Society. Formation of the Foundation represents a direct call to the membership to become an integral part of the support system to sustain vitality of the field that has rewarded each of us immeasurably and that identifies us in our professional lives. Together, we can move hematology forward.
The remainder of the interview, including a discussion of the current program focus of the Foundation, will be continued in the next issue of The Hematologist.
|The Development Committee is seeking individuals who are interested in
being a part of the ASH Foundation to serve on a member advisory group.
If you are interested in being a member of the advisory group, please
email Patricia Frustace at firstname.lastname@example.org. To read more about the ASH Bridge Grant Awards, turn to the cover of this issue.
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