The one-year term will begin after the 2017 ASH Annual Meeting Dec. 9–12 in Atlanta. It will be followed by successive one-year terms as president-elect and then as president. ASH announced the news today.
Lee will be the first Fred Hutch faculty member to serve on the ASH Executive Committee since Hutch bone marrow transplant pioneer and Nobel laureate Dr. E. Donnall Thomas served as president in 1988.
“We are thrilled by Dr. Lee’s accomplishment and the role she will have in leading our field,” said Dr. Gary Gilliland, president and director of Fred Hutch. “It is particularly notable that she is the first Hutch member to be elected president of ASH since Don Thomas.”
Lee is a transplant physician-scientist who treats patients at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, the clinical-care partner of Fred Hutch. Her research is aimed at improving the lives of transplant recipients.
“Thanks to decades of hematology research, we have more effective treatments that are easier and safer for patients to take,” Lee said. “Some of the advances, such as genetically engineered T cells, sound like science fiction, except that the technology is successfully treating blood cancers that previously didn’t respond to other therapies.”
Lee has been a member of ASH for 22 years, and during that time she has served in various leadership roles, most recently as ASH secretary. She previously chaired the ASH Scholar Awards Program Study Section.
ASH is the world’s largest professional society of hematologists dedicated to furthering the understanding, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disorders related to blood. Hematologists treat people with leukemia, lymphoma and other blood and bone marrow diseases. The specialists also care for people with anemia, disease of red blood cells and problems with bleeding and clotting.
Lee said that people often don’t know what hematologists do. Part of her plans as vice president of ASH is to work to increase public appreciation and understanding of hematology research.
“I am very proud of all the accomplishments in our field,” Lee said. “But there is still much that needs to be done. And research funding that led to these great improvements in medical care is constantly being threatened.”
Note for Hutch faculty and staff: The Hutch will host a reception for all faculty and staff Monday, Nov. 6, from 4:30–6 p.m. in the Sze Conference Rooms to honor Lee.
Molly McElroy, a senior media relations specialist at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, has written about science, education and policy topics at the University of Washington and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Reach her on Twitter @mwmcelroy.