Jun 27, 2016
Any ASCO member who has attended the Annual Meeting in recent years has benefited from the persistence of Clifford A. Hudis, MD, FACP, the organization’s new CEO, even if they didn’t know it at the time.
“Years ago, I helped push for Wi-Fi at our Annual Meeting,” said Dr. Hudis, who became ASCO CEO on June 27. “The technology was so new to the Annual Meeting, we had to teach some members how to program their devices in order to access it and further engage with their peers.”
Remembering a pre–Wi-Fi existence is difficult, yet the story is emblematic of Dr. Hudis’ leadership style as he transitions into the role of CEO. Instead of broad, sweeping changes, members should initially expect subtle behind-the-scenes adjustments that accentuate and further strengthen ASCO’s robust portfolio.
“ASCO’s mission is not changing,” Dr. Hudis said. “What we want to do is conquer cancer through research, education, funding, and promotion of high-quality patient care. My vision is to expand the reach and the depth of our positive impact on the quality of care that patients receive on a global scale.”
A Record Of Service
Prior to his new role with ASCO, Dr. Hudis was Chief of the Breast Medicine Service, Vice President for Government Relations, and Chief Advocacy Officer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. He served as ASCO President from 2013 to 2014 and as a member of the Society’s Board of Directors from 2009 to 2015.
Dr. Hudis succeeds Allen S. Lichter, MD, FASCO, who retired in June after 10 years as CEO. During Dr. Lichter’s tenure, ASCO grew to more than 40,000 members, including more than 13,000 international members and many allied health professionals.
“Dr. Hudis has a deep understanding of the field of oncology and of ASCO,” Dr. Lichter said. “As a volunteer leader, he has been involved in most of the key initiatives we have been engaged in over the last several years. He is in a terrific position to continue these efforts, as well as to tackle new challenges.”
Among his many roles within ASCO, Dr. Hudis served as Treasurer of the Board of Directors from 2009 to 2012, and was a member of the Executive and Planning Committees from 2009 to 2013. He was Co-Chair of the Board’s Finance and Governance Subcommittee and Chair of the Finance Committee, Chair of ASCO’s Integrated Technology Committee, and Co-Chair of the Breast Cancer Symposium. Dr. Hudis, who joined ASCO in 1991, has served multiple terms on the ASCO Annual Meeting Scientific Program Committee, and has sat on the Board of Governors of CancerLinQ™ since 2014.
“Dr. Hudis is a great people person,” said ASCO President Daniel F. Hayes, MD, FASCO. “He not only brings fabulous energy and a constant string of new ideas to the table, he knows how to ask questions and then genuinely listen to the answers. Further, he has the ability to truly respect those he works with—at all levels.”
Looking To The Future
ASCO’s last decade of expansion—of both membership and programs— leaves the Society well positioned, Dr. Hudis said. One of the areas the Society can build on, however, is in the dissemination of educational material and content.
“How do we make sure that all of our community is able to understand the rapidly diversifying information in oncology and apply it appropriately?” Dr. Hudis asked. “That really plays to the core strength of ASCO from its beginning, which is collectively educating our community and, through those efforts, continually improving the quality of care our members provide.”
The Society will examine ways to strengthen and improve its educational programs, whether by identifying new formats and areas of learning, or through the application of recent advances in adult learning theory.
ASCO’s educational mission includes its international members. Dr. Hudis noted that there is a rapid worldwide growth in “middle-class expectations” for health care around the world; ASCO, along with other organizations, has the opportunity and responsibility to lead the effort to raise the quality level of cancer care globally.
“We must engage with our colleagues globally and create financially viable approaches to disseminate the growing body of information needed to treat cancer optimally,” Dr. Hudis said.
Dr. Hudis is uniquely prepared to help the organization meet the challenges of expanding and improving the Society’s educational offerings, Immediate Past President Julie M. Vose, MD, MBA, FASCO, explained.
“He will continue to expand ASCO’s outreach to all oncology health care providers,” Dr. Vose said. “He will bring the perspective of oncology care, research, advocacy, and government relations that will expand ASCO’s role as the premier oncology professional society.”
Dr. Lichter noted his successor’s skill at working with ASCO staff and members to advance the Society’s goals.
“Dr. Hudis is a consensus builder,” Dr. Lichter said. “I am confident he will reach out to our volunteer leadership and all the constituents in the oncology world to understand and focus attention on the needs of our community, and work tirelessly to advance solutions to the most pressing problems of our time.”
One of Dr. Hudis’ first goals as CEO is to increase volunteer opportunities for members outside of traditional roles such as ASCO committees. Since April, when it was announced that he would assume the role of CEO, Dr. Hudis has received numerous phone calls and emails from ASCO members with suggestions. Now he wants to convert that enthusiasm into doing what ASCO does best—improving care for patients.
“Across disciplines and roles, all of us provide care to patients and families with cancer because we care about the well-being of our fellow human beings and we want to make their lives better,” Dr. Hudis said.