By Anna S. Lok, MD, FAASLD, AASLD President
It was great seeing many of you in DC at The Liver Meeting® 2017. Hope you are all energized about the latest findings in hepatology research, had a great time seeing old friends and making new ones, and enjoyed the reception in the Smithsonian. Many of you remarked that the content of this year’s meeting is more diverse, covering a broad range of liver diseases and not dominated by hepatitis C. This is a reflection of the remarkable success we all have made together such that curing hepatitis C can be “easily” accomplished but the job of eliminating hepatitis C is not yet done even in developed countries and in many parts of the world, the job has not even begun.
It was a sobering experience for me to attend the World Hepatitis Summit in Sao Paulo just a few days after The Liver Meeting® where WHO, CDC, health ministers, civic society leaders, patient representatives and health care providers from more than 100 countries gathered to discuss how to achieve the goal of eliminating hepatitis B and C by 2030. I learned the challenges with administering birth dose HBV vaccine in many countries where babies are born outside of hospitals, and with treating hepatitis B and C not only because of lack of access to affordable antivirals but also lack of access to affordable essential diagnostic tests. I also learned of the innovative solutions and remarkable successes in many countries when all stakeholders work together. I was also inspired by the stories that patients from all over the world shared and the dedication of civic society leaders and patient representatives. They reminded us not to forget that patients should be at the center of our efforts in discoveries, science, and health policies. They also reminded us elimination of hepatitis B and C is not a dream but a feasible goal when we all work together and make this our priority.
As the year winds down, I ask you to consider a tax-deductible contribution to the AASLD Foundation to support our next generation of hepatologists and trainees, and hepatology research. One way we can join together to prioritize elimination is through a donation to ensure more discovery leading to better treatments and to increase the number of providers trained to care for our patients. In 2017, we provided over $3.5 million in research, training, and travel awards to 114 deserving individuals. This was the highest funding level in the last decade. Even with increased investment, each year we face a tremendous gap to fund 100% of the meritorious applicants – in 2017, that gap represented over $7 million! Your donations reduce the gap. Donors also make relevant funding opportunities available, like our new awards debuting in 2018: the AASLD Foundation Pilot Research Award, the Bridge Award and the new Autoimmune Hepatitis Research Fund. With increased tightening of federal grant funding, your support is critical to support our field, our colleagues, and our patients. This past year member donations to AASLD Foundation increased from 5% to 13.5% thanks to your generosity, but these figures pale compared to the 100% contribution from our staff. I ask you to help us close the year with an even stronger show of member support – please make AASLD Foundation your cause today.
Accomplishing the missions of AASLD requires the help of members like you. Please nominate a colleague or yourself to serve on 1 of 23 AASLD committees or to one of several leadership positions. Your talents, experience and efforts are necessary for us to accomplish our goals and to expand our programs. Deadline for submitting nominations for committees is December 15, 2017. Please see 2019 Committee Appointment Nominations for details.
Many of our members have made consistent and major contributions to hepatology and the hepatology community. Please consider nominating a colleague for one of our Distinguished Awards. Deadline for submitting nominations is December 31, 2017. Please see Call for Nominations 2018 Distinguished Awards for details.