New Year’s Message

Happy New Year to all the members of the ASC!   2012 is an especially exciting year since this is our Diamond Anniversary — we are celebrating our Society’s 60 year tradition of transforming health care through advancement of the cytologic method.

Advancing the ASC’s strong tradition of leadership in cytopathology in new directions is a priority for my presidential year.   Continuing the ASC’s strong sense of community and participation, which attracts members to our organization is a priority as well;therefore, I plan to use this blog to regularly share what’s going on in the Society, and to give our members and friends an opportunity to provide feedback.  Many members have enjoyed the listserv, but listserv messages can sometimes overwhelm your email in-baskets due to the many enthusiastic and sometimes passionate responses.  I hope that the blog will be a fun and effective alternative, and easier for our members to manage.

So what’s been going on in the ASC since our Annual Meeting in November?  Lots of members have been asking about the plans for the new ASC journal, which Dr. Nancy Young announced in her presidential address.   This journal provides an exciting new opportunity for the ASC to have a broader voice and become a stronger leader among pathology disciplines.  There are potential financial benefits too, since journals typically bring in considerable revenue to their parent societies, in addition to reducing some external expenses, which adds to the attractiveness of this effort.  As Nancy mentioned, the Executive Board has chosen to work with the highly-respected medical publisher Elsevier, and we are in the process of creating a journal contract.  Needless to say, we all want to be sure that the ASC has minimal financial risk, and our conversations thus far have indicated that this risk is assumed almost exclusively by Elsevier.   A position description fully defining the role of the editor-in-chief is also in progress.  Dr. Syed Ali was chosen by the Executive Board (EB) to serve as our first editor-in-chief, and we are delighted that he has agreed to accept this position.  Syed is well-known to our membership, highly committed to the role of editor-in-chief and excited about the prospect of a new journal.  He has considerable experience as director of cytopathology at Johns Hopkins and from his former positions as a member of the EB and as Chair of the Scientific Program Committee, which will serve him well in developing and leading the journal.  Syed is participating in creating his job description and in the conversations with Elsevier regarding the contract, and soon he will be putting together the editorial board, too.   Of course, a big new effort like this is never without controversy, and some members have wondered whether there is space for a new cytopathology journal.   Needless to say, the ASC journal will need to be unique in its own way, and your feedback on where you see unmet needs and unique niches will be helpful to Dr. Ali and the editorial board in establishing the vision for this journal.

Professional partnerships are also a strategic tool that I see as important to the ASC’s leadership role and to our future as a profession.  Companion meetings provide excellent opportunities for the ASC to partner with other like-minded organizations and to demonstrate unity in our discipline.   The ASC is partnering once again with the Papanicolaou Society to provide a companion meeting at USCAP’s Annual Meeting this March.   The topic is “The Four “Ps” of Pulmonary Cytopathology: Procedural, Predictive, Personalized and Participatory” and includes exciting and timely presentations on the emerging issues of cytopathology and molecular markers, management guidelines and targeted therapies, and the role of cytotechnologists.  This summer, the ASC will also have a companion meeting led by Dr. Zubair Baloch at the upcoming European Society of Cytology.  And we hope to soon formalize a partnership relationship with the American Society for Clinical Pathology to regularly provide cytology content for their meetings and workshops, in addition to joining with them in other efforts such as advocacy and global health opportunities.  Many other opportunities for companion meetings and regional meetings are being proposed, which the officers and I are excited about. This shows that the ASC “brand” is valued and meaningful, and reflects the expertise and passion of our members.  I’m excited at the many ways we can expand our reach and more fully demonstrate our leadership as the premier organization in cytopathology.

An inspiring program is already taking shape for next year’s Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, thanks to Scientific Program Committee and Chair Dr. Dina Mody.  Former NASA astronaut Scott Parazynski, MD will provide our New Frontiers Lecture and discuss his work in the new frontier of high-altitude medicine and how the lessons he learned about teamwork and thinking differently can influence our work in transforming healthcare, too.  Our Leopold Koss Lecturer will be Yuan Chang, MD, American Cancer Society Professor of Pathology and co-director of the Cancer Virology Program at the University of Pittsburgh, who discovered the viral causes of four different human cancers, including identifying and isolating the virus causing Merkel cell tumor, and Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus. Her experience offers many parallels in human papillomavirus and cervical cancer, and her insights into viral causes of cancer and how this may change diagnostic approaches in pathology and cytology practice in the future should be unique and interesting.  And this is just the beginning — more good stuff to come on the program, so mark your calendar to join us in Las Vegas in November!!

Lastly, we are beginning our strategic plan process to provide direction for the ASC for the next five years.  Stay tuned to hear more as this unfolds – we will be providing opportunities for you to provide feedback online so that you can help shape the ASC’s future.

So what do you think?  Excited about the journal?  Do you have good ideas for our anniversary year or for regional meetings and partnerships?  Other thoughts that you want to share?  Blog back so that I, the officers, Executive Board and the rest of the Society know what you think — this will make the ASC the organization and the leader you want and need us to be.  And I wish everyone a fulfilling, productive and joyous new year!!

Lydia Pleotis Howell, MD