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The science and practice of human immunology

The science and practice of human immunology
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Letter From the President

Dear Colleagues:

It is a privilege and pleasure to write this letter as your new CIS President.  I am deeply indebted to Dr. Jordan Orange for his outstanding leadership over the past year, and the new initiatives he implemented that will pave the way for future growth and development of the Society.  His “State of the Society” survey of our membership last year was critical in determining where we are currently, where we want to go, and who we want to be. Our identity as a Society has continued to grow and evolve just as our field of clinical immunology has continued to grow and evolve. Dr. Orange’s visionary leadership, and indeed the contributions of the leaders who came before, are the reason we are a vital and growing organization.  “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”-  Isaac Newton

We are now a couple of months from our most recent annual meeting (March 2017) and it was a tremendous success, both scientifically and professionally, in terms of education and networking.  Each of you as members has taken your membership commitment seriously and contributed in diverse ways, ensuring not only the success of our academic annual meeting, but also the numerous initiatives that go on throughout the year. The quality of our Annual Meeting program improves each year as we identify focus areas, invite excellent speakers to deliver up-to-date educational material, and nurture the development of our junior faculty and fellows. As per the bylaws change approved at the 2016 Annual Meeting, I will be serving as your President for the next two years (2017-2019). I am grateful and humbled by the opportunity to serve you and our Society, and implement new initiatives in the next two years that will benefit and expand CIS in different areas. Of course, there is no solitary leadership and all success is a team effort. Thank you for being active contributors and partners in these initiatives, which I will describe below (in no specific order).

Initiative #1.  Thymus transplant taskforce:  With the advent of newborn screening for SCID, we are identifying more infants who require thymus transplantation. Dr. Louise Markert, Duke University, has done a stellar job in providing this essential clinical service in North America for the past several years and she will continue to do so. However, the increasing clinical demand mandates further dialogue on how this program can be expanded to other centers in the U.S. and Canada. Under the able leadership of Dr. Luigi Notarangelo, a team of experts has been assembled (Dr. Louise Markert, Dr. Graham Davies, Dr. Maite de la Morena, Dr. Jack Bleesing, Dr. Elie Haddad, Dr. Marita Bosticardo, Dr. Michail Lionakis and Dr. Michael Keller). They will provide written guidance on the current state of the field, and the requirements for new centers to start programs to increase availability and accessibility for thymus transplantation in North America.

Initiative #2.  Women in Clinical Immunological Sciences (WCIS) Committee:   The number of female members in the CIS has grown rapidly over the years, and it is important to recognize that there are unique opportunities to develop and foster this section of the membership to facilitate academic growth, mentorship, leadership and professional development. Dr. Victoria Dimitriades and Dr. Alexandra Freeman are the Co-Chairs of this newly formed committee and they will work together with other members of the WCIS Steering Committee, and the Executive Committee to develop an agenda that will provide a welcoming, mentoring and supportive environment for women members, particularly junior faculty, clinicians and trainees at all levels.

Initiative #3. FILL (Following Infants with Low Lymphocytes) Project:  The FILL project is the offspring of the newborn screening for SCID (NBS SCID) initiative in the U.S. Drs. Jack Routes, Jennifer Puck and Luigi Notarangelo, initiated this project, with a generous grant from the Jeffrey Modell Foundation. The USIDNET has created a FILL portal/database for physicians to submit cases on infants with lymphopenia, identified by NBS SCID. The goal is to accrue 200 infant cases by April 1, 2018.  Therefore, I strongly encourage you to please consider enrolling your patients with lymphopenia to the FILL database so we can gather data nationally on the incidence, distribution and outcomes of such infants. Please contact Tara Caulder, USIDNET, for further information on how to enroll patients.

Initiative #4.  Diagnostic Laboratory Immunology Committee Survey on Genetic Testing:  The DLI committee of CIS, led by Dr. Jack Bleesing has been developing tools to provide CIS members with information on availability of diagnostic testing for primary immunodeficiencies in North America. The diagnostic laboratory immunology catalogue will debut on the CIS website shortly.  Additionally, the DLI committee has created a survey on genetic testing that was circulated to members a few months ago.  The intent of the survey is to gain information on current practices and knowledge of genetic testing so that new initiatives specifically focused on member needs can be developed in the coming months.  We have received approximately 75 responses thus far, and would very much like to obtain a minimum of 100 responses to provide an unbiased assessment.

Please consider completing the survey, if you have not already done so. As an incentive, four participants will be chosen to receive free registration to brand new sessions at the 2018 meeting! Watch your inbox for more information.

Other new initiatives will be shared with the membership through these quarterly newsletters as they are reviewed and approved by the Executive Committee.

Advocacy Committee:  The Advocacy Committee, chaired by Dr. Jennifer Heimall, has been very active in completing a “white paper” on guidelines for genetic testing, which will be submitted shortly. Additionally, the committee has provided letters of support related to immunoglobulin replacement insurance to Aetna, federal budget and other matters relevant to the CIS and its members. 

Digital Content Committee:  This committee, chaired by Dr. Larry Borish, has provided valuable guidance in the re-design of our website, which will be unveiled later this year. In the re-designed website, there will be a Council Corner, where members can direct questions and concerns, directly to the Executive Council.

Early Career Immunologists (ECI) Committee:  The ECI committee, co-chaired by Drs. Chandrakasan and Lawrence continue to do an outstanding job with the monthly webinars, in addition to providing support to ECI members of CIS.  Please continue your active contribution and participation in the webinars, which are a tremendous educational activity that the Society strongly endorses and supports.

Other committees of the CIS continue to work productively to develop specific areas that are valuable to the membership of the Society.

MAVEN Project: The MAVEN Project, founded in 2013, is an organization that seeks to improve access to quality healthcare for under-served communities by linking a corps of expert volunteer physicians to clinics and organizations in need.  The MAVEN Project currently serves over 24 million medically indigent patients each year. The MAVEN Project uses advanced telemedicine technology to connect the volunteer expert physicians with medical providers who work in the field.  There are three volunteer opportunities at the MAVEN Project: (1) Direct consultations (consults between expert volunteers and medical providers in an under-served clinic), (2) Curbside Consults (volunteers consult with clinic medical provider only in an advisory capacity), (3) Education and Mentoring (volunteers provide education and/or mentoring to clinic providers, either in a group or one-on-one). The time commitment for a volunteer can range from 4-6 hours/month.  If you are interested in volunteering with the MAVEN Project or would like more information, you can find more information in their promotional brochure or in this informational video.

You can receive additional information from our contact person at the Maven Project:  Valerie Walker, Outreach Manager, at vwalker@mavenproject.org or 617-641-9743 (ext. 707).

2018 Annual Meeting and Diagnostic Update in Primary Immunodeficiencies/Clinical Immunology:  The planning for our 2018 Annual Meeting and pre-conference meeting is well underway.  The Program Committees of the Annual Meeting and pre-conference Diagnostic Update meeting have worked hard to arrange an exciting and educational conference with an outstanding list of speakers in diverse areas of clinical immunology with plenty of clinical discussion and ample opportunity to network.  Additionally, in 2018, there will be two parallel Genomics 101 and Flow 101 workshops on two different days, arranged by the DLI Committee. Please check the CIS website for more details and get your abstracts ready for submission later this year. We look forward to another incredible CIS meeting in Toronto in April 2018 (April 26-29, 2018). 

Again, I would like to thank all of you for your steadfast support of the Society, and your enthusiasm and commitment to advancing our field, and caring for our patients.  I truly look forward to working with all of you in the next two years.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller


Roshini S. Abraham, PhD
CIS President