By Anna S. Lok, MD, FAASLD, AASLD President
It is hard to believe that 2017 will soon be over. I am honored and privileged to have the opportunity to lead this amazing society. Together we have accomplished a lot this year. We had a highly successful meeting in DC with nearly 10,000 participants from 85 countries and more than 3000 abstract presentations. The field of hepatology is vibrant. While we celebrate the beginning of the end of hepatitis C, much work needs to be done in many other areas: NAFLD, alcoholic liver disease, HCC, autoimmune liver diseases and pediatric liver diseases.
Now more than ever we need to invest in research and in our pipeline. This is why AASLD gave out more than $3.5 million in research, career and travel awards this year and will add additional categories of research awards next year. We also distributed more than $250,000 for innovative projects designed for hepatologists, medical students and patients. Earlier in the year, we funded the “Cirrhosis Quality Collaborative” project aimed to define quality metrics for hepatology care. We hope this initiative, once fully launched, will standardize and improve hepatology care across the country and worldwide.
Our journals have flourished with Hepatology’s Impact Factor hitting an all-time high of 13.246. Our new online journal Hepatology Communications has been fully accepted into PubMed Central, having passed both the scientific and technical evaluations. This is remarkable achievement – kudos to Gyongyi Szabo (Editor), all the Associate Editors, and Ann Haran and Greg Bologna in the office.
Our membership increased 45 percent since 2012 to approximately 5500. To encourage scientists, providers and trainees to join, we have not increased membership dues for more than eight years. In fact, we decreased trainee membership dues to only $25/year.
We have expanded our global footprint and have endorsed or held joint meetings with liver societies in other countries including China, Mexico, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. We have continued to collaborate closely with other regional societies: ALEH, APASL and EASL. We just completed the Inaugural EASL-AASLD Masterclass to train the next generation of hepatology leaders and will host the next Masterclass in Washington, DC next year. We are also working on Pan-American hepatology collaborations linking Canada, US, Mexico and Latin America.
AASLD has done well financially thanks to a strong market; generous contributions from members, staff and our sponsors; and judicious spending. This has permitted us to carry out all the activities planned and added new programs and activities.
To allow us to plan for the future, Jorge Bezerra (President 2020) and Ray Chung (President 2021) will lead our strategic planning. In order that we can support more research, training and education, our Foundation under Bruce Bacon will be launching a fundraising campaign. We count on your support of our specialty, our patients and our cause.
I have utmost confidence that AASLD will remain strong and there will be other exciting new programs under the able leadership of Ron Sokol, our next President. 2017 has been an amazing year for me. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that one day I would be president of this amazing association when I attended my first Liver Meeting® in Chicago back in 1983. Thank you for your trust in me. I could not have done this without the support of our Governing Board, committee members, SIG committees and the entire AASLD staff. Thank you for your energy, time and dedication.
Happy Holidays to you and your family and my very best wishes for a Happy, Healthy, and Peaceful 2018.