ASH annual meeting is a virtual success for blood cancer experts

Burkitt lymphoma cells.

The 62nd Annual Meeting and Exposition of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) was originally scheduled for December 5-8, 2020, in San Diego, California, but shifted to a virtual meeting in alignment with public health necessities. The change to a virtual meeting did not dampen the enthusiasm of physicians, scientists, trainees, advocates and patients, who showed up in record numbers to binge-watch sessions and to share photos of their pets to #ASHFromHome and offer #ASHKudos to their colleagues in lieu of applause. This first all-virtual ASH annual meeting brought together a record number of attendees, over 30,000 from 117 countries, to share the latest scientific discoveries and advances in clinical care.

This premier international event focuses on hematological malignancies – or blood cancers. Expert faculty from UChicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center presented new clinical research results and updates, plus several faculty received prestigious awards.

ASH recognized UChicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center director, Michelle Le Beau, PhD, Arthur and Marian Edelstein Professor of Medicine, with the 2020 Henry M. Stratton Medal, one of the cancer field’s top honors, for her seminal contributions to basic and clinical/translational hematology research.

Wendy Stock, MD, Anjuli Seth Nayak Professor of Medicine, received the 2020 Clinical Mentor Award for contributing to the professional development of numerous hematology trainees at various stages in their careers.

Here are a few highlights from the meeting:

Michael Bishop, MD, Professor of Medicine and Director of the hematopoietic stem cell transplantation program, Hongtao Liu, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine, and colleagues presented results from a phase 1 clinical trial of a novel treatment for patients with relapsed hematologic malignancies undergoing a second allogenic stem cell transplantation. The results were encouraging, showing improved outcomes for patients and warranting further study.

Justin Kline, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, and colleagues investigated the immune cell environment of Hodgkin lymphoma and found a population of CD8+ cytotoxic T cells, that may be the cell population responsible for a positive response to PD-1 blockade. Their conclusions may lead to better informed decisions for treating Hodgkin lymphoma with checkpoint inhibition immunotherapies.

Richard Larson, MD, Professor of Medicine, and colleagues shared preliminary results of a phase 1 study of genetically engineered T cells, called UCART22, to treat relapsed B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Enrollment for the study is ongoing.

As part of the ASH-a-Palooza programming for trainees, Lucy Godley, MD, PhD, Hospira Foundation Professor of Medicine and Human Genetics, and Olatoyosi Odenike, MD, Professor of Medicine, led sessions on adult clinical malignant hematology, and Tara Henderson, MD, MPH, Professor of Pediatrics; Interim Chief of the Section of Pediatric Hematology, Oncology and Stem Cell Transplantation; and Director of the Childhood, Adolescent and Young Adult Survivorship Center, and Jennifer McNeer, MD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, led sessions on pediatric clinical malignant hematology.

Additional UChicago Medicine faculty that led research presented as posters describing their latest findings are listed here:

View the complete list of 2020 ASH Annual Meeting presentations in which Comprehensive Cancer Center physicians and scientists were the speaker, chair, moderator or co-author.

The 63rd ASH Annual Meeting and Exposition is scheduled for December 5-8, 2021, and will be held in Atlanta.