Thanks: My Annual Meeting

Thanks: My Annual Meeting

George W. Sledge, MD, FASCO

Jun 10, 2011
It is presumptuous beyond belief to speak of “My Annual Meeting” when the meeting had so may cooks preparing the feast. So in this post I would like to throw out some “thank you’s” to those who made the meeting possible, and to some who made the last year such a pleasurable one for me.

First, the volunteers. ASCO volunteers are the bedrock of our Society, in a way that other medical and scientific societies sometimes find unimaginable. We get huge amounts of work at very low (0$/hour) wages from large numbers of volunteers. The Board of Directors, as a group, leads the list. The members of the Board who are departing this year include former President Doug Blayney, Monica Bertagnolli, Bruce Johnson, Robert Langdon, and Sandra Swain. They are all outstanding, and were a great support to me and great leaders of our Society. Sandy Swain will be returning as our President next year following Michael Link.

Our committee chairs were also great. At the annual meeting three committee chairs in particular always have their work cut out for them, so I will thank them here and let them serve as representative of the many other committee chairs who served this year and deserve my thanks. Kathy Miller headed the Scientific Program Committee, Chuck Blanke led the Education Committee, and Mark Kris chaired the Communications Committee. They all did a wonderful job, and to the extent you enjoyed this year’s meeting, thank them.

Second, the staff. ASCO’s professional staff, as I never tire of proclaiming, are incredibly good. I cannot thank them all here, and in starting this paragraph I know I have the potential to offend through omission. Allen Lichter leads our organization as CEO with such smarts and style that it has become hard to imagine a better leader, and this excellence finds its way into our annual meeting in innumerable ways. Deb Kamin and Bernie Khoo and several others were kind enough to help me with my Presidential Address at both a content and style level, making that talk considerably better than it might otherwise have been. Jean Colvard and her logistics team looked after me, some would say pampered me, at a level far beyond my deserving; she also looked after everyone else in her free time. Kristin Ludwig and her Communications staff got our message out through hundreds of media outlets. And finally, my thanks to Moktar Sheikh-Salah, the ASCO staff member with the most boring and difficult role of the meeting. Moktar was my “minder,” making sure I got from one place to the next in a timely fashion, handling last-minute changes in my schedule, arranging impromptu interviews with media, and handling transportation for my family and me. Some might find it insulting that the organization one has led for a year does not trust one to get from point A to point B, but in this as in all things the ASCO staff was merely being realistic.

Finally, some visitors. We were fortunate to get many great speakers to attend our meeting even though they were not society members. These include many speakers at our joint sessions with sister societies (AACR, SNM, RSNA, UICC, and ASH). Just to suggest the quality of these guests, two (Dr. Harold Varmus of the NCI and Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn of UCSF) are Nobel Laureates. We were honored to host them, and thankful for their willingness to participate. Dr. Varmus spoke in our opening session regarding the NCI and our collective future; Dr. Blackburn joined me in leading the joint ASCO-AACR symposium, in the process delivering a discussion of telomerase biology that was a prodigy of clarity and intelligence.


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