The 2018 ASCO Annual Meeting was, by all measures, a remarkable success and we were fortunate to have great science and clinical advances to share with the more than 40,000 attendees in Chicago. Following our usual intense days in Chicago, it is perhaps easy to forget that we started off—after the astounding prep work by our Meetings team—with several days of hard work on the part of the ASCO Board of Directors.
Some of you may not know that we do more than host the ASCO Annual Meeting each year in Chicago; we also hold a meeting of the Board of Directors, which occurs immediately before we officially kick off the Annual Meeting. Because so much happens over those busy days I am writing to share a few of the Board’s actions and decisions.
As many of you know, ASCO conducts a yearly, and yearlong, Leadership Development Program (LDP) aimed at early-career emerging leaders. The goal is to help them develop leadership skills and acquire specific skills necessary for career success as local, regional, national, and international leaders of programs, teams, systems, or other entities. Each year the LDP teams present their findings and recommendations in specific areas to the Board and this is always eagerly anticipated. This year the four LDP teams oriented their work around ASCO’s recently announced 5-year strategic plan, and we heard high-quality reports on:
- Next-generation ASCO research
- ASCO education around the globe
- A new approach to Board review (working title “ASCO 10COR”)
- Vital elements in electronic oncology medical records
We expect to utilize these analyses and recommendations as we implement our plan and pursue ASCO’s 5-year goals.
Regarding our strategic plan, the Board continued to strengthen and refine it while we were together in Chicago. At the same time, we began a very clear pivot towards execution. To that end, they refined and affirmed a set of core metrics that will help the staff and volunteers remain on track and be accountable over the coming years. The Board also offered valuable feedback on a new framework for classifying and monitoring all of ASCO’s wide range of programs. These tools will allow us to measure progress against our multiyear goals and strategies in a way that is clear and concise. They will also enable us to maintain a dashboard for regular review by the Board.
One thing that was different this year was that we were able to welcome NCI director Dr. Norman Sharpless to a private meeting with the Board. This was in addition to the inspiring and very personal speech he delivered during our Annual Meeting Opening Session. With our Board of Directors, he outlined his vision for the NCI and detailed upcoming priorities. He then responded to the Board’s questions and asked for (and received!) the Board’s input on key initiatives. This exchange left us optimistic that Dr. Sharpless will not only use the feedback but will also continue to engage with us as he leads the NCI.
Our next ASCO Board meeting comes up quickly—it is mid-August at ASCO Headquarters—and I look forward to providing another update soon after. In the meantime, I hope everyone gets to enjoy the summer!