By Ronald J. Sokol, MD, FAASLD, AASLD President
It is with great appreciation and gratitude that I end my term as President of AASLD as we usher in the new year and turn over the leadership of the organization to Michael Fried. Serving on the AASLD Board has been the highlight of my career. Having this Board and the staff in the home office of AASLD to work with has made the presidency thoroughly enjoyable. AASLD is fortunate not only to have an incredibly dedicated and talented Board and staff, but also for the many members serving on committees and SIGs that are uniquely qualified and committed to making AASLD the leading organization dedicated to the study of the liver.
Each AASLD President ends his or her term soon after The Liver Meeting®, and that is, indeed, going out on a high note. This year’s meeting attracted more than 10,500 attendees – in fact, it was the fifth year in a row that we’ve had more than 10,000 attendees at The Liver Meeting®. We had a record number of abstracts submitted: 3345 abstracts were submitted, shattering the old record of 3192 submitted to the 2016 meeting. There were 2467 total scientific presentations, including 300 oral presentations. This year, we featured new programming by the SIGs, a Diversity Workshop and a Hepatology Associates Day, which was organized by the Associates SIG.
At this year’s meeting, we unveiled AASLD’s brand new five-year strategic plan. With Drs. Ray Chung and Jorge Bezerra as Co-Chairs, a diverse group of AASLD members codified our organizational values – inclusivity, innovation, respect, collaboration, and integrity. Using the strategic plan as its guide, AASLD will continue to foster member engagement, invest in promising opportunities and lead in discoveries and accelerate progress. AASLD will extend our outreach and optimize technology to make available products created by our Society. Lastly, we are committed to enhancing our engagement with the patient community and continue our global outreach and engagement.
AASLD programs continue to set the standard in education in hepatology, not only at The Liver Meeting®, but through our 2019 Emerging Trends Conferences – Hepatocellular Carcinoma in March and Genomics in Hepatology in September. We are proud to have partnered with EASL to bring to you an HCV Special Conference in February 2019, and with the FDA for a special DILI meeting in May. Of course, we remain committed to disseminating the science and practice of hepatology through DDW in May and the Clinical Hepatology Update in June. We not only focus on the United States, but take those opportunities that best serve the international hepatology community, including partnering with ALEH (Latin American hepatology association) and APASL (Asian Pacific association) at their annual meetings, as well as joint symposia and research workshops in China, Ghana and Saudi Arabia.
Dissemination is at the core of AASLD through the meetings I highlighted above, but also through Practice Guidelines and our journals. Through both Practice Guidelines and Practice Guidances, AASLD has kept the liver community on the cutting edge of practice with updates in the areas of hepatitis B, hepatocellular carcinoma and primary biliary cholangitis. In 2019 we will produce guidelines on alcoholic liver disease, noninvasive assessment of liver disease and autoimmune liver disease.
AASLD’s suite of journals features Hepatology as its flagship publication, which achieved its all-time high Impact Factor of 14.08 in 2018, compared to 13.25 in the previous year. It has done this while remaining committed to publishing the most important papers throughout the breadth of our field, in basic, clinical and translational hepatology. Our two newest publications – Clinical Liver Disease (CLD) and Hepatology Communications – were both accepted into PubMed. Liver Transplantation continues to focus on all aspects of transplant hepatology and end-stage liver disease, serving the needs of the liver transplant community.
This past year AASLD released a new version of LiverLearning® to provide our members with an enhanced and outstanding online “asynchronous” educational experience, and we hosted nine webinars on important topics in 2018 sponsored by our SIGs and journals. The new LiverLearning® platform will also make available to all attendees of this year’s meeting “The Best of The Liver Meeting®” slide sets, a new addition to our meeting, which are available now to download. These Power point slide sets summarize (in a single slide) the best 100+ abstract presentations at The Liver Meeting® in a standardized easy-to-read format, and with the abstract from the meeting attached.
Over the past 18 years, AASLD and our Foundation have provided $47 million in research and career development award funding. In the fourth year of its existence (2018), the AASLD Foundation provided more than $4 million in awards, doubling what it had provided in 2017. AASLD has committed almost $2 million to the Foundation annually as the Foundation continues to grow and fulfill its mission with your support. We are in the middle of a fundraising campaign with the goal of allowing us to fund all of the meritorious grants submitted for the Foundation Awards – I encourage you to donate generously to the AASLD Foundation’s “Tomorrow’s Cures’ campaign!
AASLD is able to contribute to the Foundation because of our overall financial strength, but also because of our ongoing commitment to identify and grow the next generation of physician and PhD scientists and associates. That is at the core of what AASLD is and is evident in not only our support of the Foundation but the growth in our Emerging Liver Scholars and mentorship programs to ensure the success of the careers of our youngest members.
With these final words I leave AASLD in Mike Fried’s capable hands and want to thank all of the members for their continued support of the organization.