The beautiful and historic city of Madrid hosted the 22nd Annual Congress of the European Hematology Association (EHA) held on June 22-25, 2017. The unusual heat notwithstanding, some 10,517 delegates from around the world gathered in the Spanish capital to share the latest scientific and clinical research, reconnect with old friends, and meet new colleagues.
“Research lies in the heart of hematology,” said Professor Shai Izraeli, Chair of the Scientific Program Committee. “Therefore, the main goal of the scientific program is to bring the best of basic, translational, and clinical research in all areas of hematology.”
A record number of over 2,500 abstracts were submitted this year, a selection of which was presented in 240 oral sessions. Experts made another additional 60 presentations in the educational sessions while a number of special sessions were dedicated to career development and patient advocacy. The EHA’s partner organizations also arranged joint symposia that covered a wide range of subjects.
The EHA has been placing an increasing emphasis on YoungEHA by bringing together young hematologists with a particular interest in research.
“They are the future of hematology,” EHA President Professor Tony Green stated in his opening speech.
In 2016, the EHA began offering a unique training and mentoring program focused on clinical research in Europe--the Clinical Research Training in Hematology (CRTH).
What’s new this year is a one-day YoungEHA research meeting that took place on the day before the congress. Green also announced the launch of HemaSphere, an online, open-access journal complementing the existing periodical Haematologica.
“EHA is a very special organization not only for the people it attracts but (also) because it continues to foster a very strong set of core values and goals,” Green said.
The Jean Bernard Lifetime Achievement Award was posthumously granted to Professor David Grimwade (King’s College London School of Medicine, London, United Kingdom) who passed away in October 2016.
He was honored for his contributions in determining the value of cytogenetic and molecular analysis for risk stratification in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and his work in unraveling pathogenetic mechanisms of AML, particularly the translocation t(15;17).
Grimwade is most celebrated for his work on the prospective value of molecular minimal residual disease (MRD). He also had an important role in several clinical trials and in the LeukemiaNet MRD group.
“He was absolutely committed to making a difference to patient outcome,” said Green, who presented the award to Grimwade’s widow.
Meanwhile, the José Carreras Award for established and active investigators was conferred to Professor Ruud Delwel (Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, The Netherlands) for his contribution to describing the heterogeneity of AML.
In his lecture, Delwel described how his group uncovered different mechanisms that lead to aberrant expression of EVI1, a very poor prognostic factor in AML.
They recently discovered that, in AML with 3q26 abnormalities, translocation of a super-enhancer element results in deregulated expression of EVI1. Delwel and his team demonstrated that in cell lines, the expression of EVI1 can be repressed by BET inhibitors, to which super-enhancers are specifically sensitive.
The results demonstrate that EVI1 is a potential target for treatment.
Bringing together hematologists, healthcare professionals, patients, politicians, media, and industry from around the world, the EHA Annual Congress is an ideal venue to forge connections and learn about the latest developments in the field toward one main goal: improve patients’ quality of life.