"It has been a wonderful experience and a great opportunity for me especially at this early stage in my scientific training."
The American Society of Haematology (ASH) conference this year was held in sunny San Diego, California. The conference was celebrating its 60th anniversary and it lived up to my expectations. As a clinician, albeit one who has recently started a PhD in megakaryocyte biology, the conference provided an opportunity to get updates about the latest trials and evidence. One of the big talking points of the conference was the presentation of data from genome-wide association studies (GWAS) on the heritability of de novo AML which indicated that up to 20% of patients might have an inherited genetic disposition to developing the condition. Other notable highlights were the results from trials looking at the utility of direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) in malignancy-related VTE. Sickle cell disease also featured highly with a number of fascinating educational sessions reporting on the progress in gene-editing of the beta haemoglobin gene, which may present a potential ’cure’ for the condition without the need for a bone marrow transplant. This year’s conference had a number of superb educational scientific talks within the area of haematopoiesis (the focus of my PhD), such as "stress and haematopoiesis", "thrombopoeisis and the lung" and "how to make a red cell". These talks summarised both the key discoveries in the field and also gave some insights into where the field seems to be going in the future.
The conference was also an opportunity for me to present my own work and to discuss my findings and approaches with other scientists and clinicians. My poster, titled "Bayesian analysis of TPO in immune thrombocytopenia", is part of the larger body of work which aims to understand how the immune system affects the normal functioning and regulation of megakaryocytes in both autoimmunity and inflammation more generally. Using novel mathematical approaches and computer simulations I generated a model of TPO production in immune thrombocytopenia. The work attracted a great deal of interest and inspired lively discussion both about the research itself and about possible future directions the work could take.
I am very grateful to the BSH for sponsoring my attendance to the conference. It has been a wonderful experience and a great opportunity for me especially at this early stage in my scientific training.