Hematologic Society Meeting Puts Spotlight on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion

Ahead of the 2021 American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting & Exposition, the organization highlighted multiple sessions that demonstrate its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Writing in a blog post, Elizabeth Brem, MD, of the University of California Irvine, wrote that the variety of sessions reflect ASH’s “efforts to improve care for diseases that disproportionately affect minority patients.”

This year’s meeting will include the Anti-Racism Studio, which was designed to help attendees better recognize what constitutes racism. The studio will have 15-minute talks on topics including defining race, ethnicity, and genetic ancestry, definitions of structural racism, tips for effective allyship, and more. Speakers in the studio will include Dr. Althea Maybank, Chief Health Equity Officer for the American Medical Association.

This year’s ASH Annual Meeting will also include the return of its Special Scientific Session on Race and Science, co-chaired by Dr. Lachelle Weeks of Dana Farber Cancer Institute and co-chair of the ASH Anti-Racism Task Force, and Dr. Wally Smith of Virginia Commonwealth University. This session will include presentations and discussions meant to address the implications of racial bias on scientific innovation, according to Dr. Brem.

Dr. Brem also discussed two opportunities created by ASH’s Committee on Government Relations and Practice. The first is the ASH Practice Partnership Lunch Program that discuss how COVID has highlighted health disparities and has also given us opportunities to change delivery of care and to improve techniques for medical education. The second is the ASH Grassroots Network Lunch which will highlight ASH’s advocacy efforts at the congressional level.

Dr. Brem closed her post with a quote from Dr. Weeks: “It is upon all of our shoulders to educate ourselves and then do all that we can to eliminate structural barriers to equitable care, including segregation and lack of diversity of providers, economic issues that limit access to medical care, and cultural or individual factors that are not permissive of fostering inclusive environments for all of us regardless of our backgrounds and how we identify. This is essential work if the goal is to model excellence in clinical hematology and research and to improve the health of all of our patients.”