Summer is over, and everyone is back to the routine, with a new academic year, for many of our members. CIS has had a very busy and productive few months since our annual meeting in April 2018. We are immensely grateful to our members who have continued to work on many of our initiatives despite busy and over-committed schedules. The CIS Leadership met at the end of August for our annual Leadership Retreat, during which time a strategic plan was developed for the next five years (2018-2023). The Council decided to focus on 6 key initiatives – education, innovation, membership, communication, advocacy, and partnership, over the course of the next few years. The leadership also reaffirmed the primary values of the Society, and we created a new visual to summarize our mission statement.
Since it has been several months since my last letter, I would like to take this opportunity to update you on the status of several of our projects and initiatives. Firstly, however, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge Dr. William “Bill” Shearer’s recent passing. You may find my full note on the CIS website.
2018 CIS-AAAAI Diagnostic PID School
This three-day School took place at the end of June in Cincinnati, OH, and represented our maiden venture to add a new educational opportunity to our existing offerings. It would not be an overstatement to say that the School was extremely well-received by the participants, and sponsors, and was an unqualified success. I would particularly like to acknowledge the other faculty members – Drs. Jack Bleesing, Janet Chou, Tom Fleisher, Vijaya Knight, Sergio Rosenzweig and Troy Torgerson, who along with Dr. Rebecca Marsh (Co-Chair) gave so much time and effort to ensure that the lectures, case discussions and hands-on tutorials were all well-prepared, focused and user-friendly for the participants.
We selected 34 participants from a large pool of applicants, with one-third from overseas (Malaysia, Cyprus, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Chile, Peru, Colombia, India, Hong Kong, and Israel). A total of 13 countries were represented. We had a good mix of junior faculty and fellows in training, and the feedback received was most positive.
We hope that the participants will be able to use the knowledge gained in their own countries and institutions, leading to a “ripple effect” in dissemination of knowledge and experience. We are also truly appreciative of the generosity of our sponsors (Shire, CSL Behring, Grifols, Horizon, Leadiant, Jeffrey Modell Foundation), who made this School possible, and open to international participants.
By popular demand, a second CIS Diagnostic PID School will be held in July 2019 in Boston, MA. Additional information will be forthcoming, and membership will be notified.
As you may recall, the CIS Foundation was launched in January 2018 to raise funds via an endowment to provide ongoing support to our junior faculty and fellows-in-training for educational and research purposes. CIS has pledged $100,000 to the Foundation, and our fundraising efforts continue. In this regard, we will be providing a new brochure detailing opportunities for planned giving, community fundraising, and philanthropic support. We strongly encourage each of our members to take this message and goal to heart, and not only support the Society through personal donations of ANY amount, but also by spreading the word and encouraging patients, family and friends to contribute to this worthy cause. We recognize there are many noble causes, and competing demands, but please bear in mind that this is for the future of our Society and our field, to support the next generation of clinicians and scientists. We have a lofty goal to raise $1 million, and we will not achieve it without the support of our membership.
2019 Annual Meeting
The 2019 CIS Annual Meeting and Pre-conference will be held in Atlanta, GA from April 4-7. The Program Committee has been working hard on developing a stimulating and innovative agenda. There will be a pre-conference education day on PID/Immunedysregulation Diagnosis, Management and Publishing Case Reports with several Master classes led by experts in the field, in addition to attendee case report presentations. This will be a case-based, clinically-focused session from 8am-2pm, and we strongly encourage interested members to register for the pre-conference meeting, in addition to the main meeting. Case reports for this session will be accepted as part of the abstract submission process for the annual meeting. We will also have a discussion on how to publish case reports in the Journal of Clinical Immunology.
The CIS Annual meeting will have a new feature this year with an interactive roundtable plenary session in three parallel sessions (see website for more details), in addition to a Diagnostic Genomics 101 and Functional Validation 102 sessions.
We will have regular abstract submissions as well as late-breaking abstract submissions so please stay tuned for further announcements and updates. We encourage all our members to submit abstracts, and make this is a lively and participatory meeting in the tradition of excellence, which has come to characterize our annual meetings.
In addition to these two meetings, we will have a targeted symposium on Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019 on Thymic Defects: From Biology to Treatment, which will be held at the same venue as the Annual Meeting. Please note that there is a separate registration fee for this symposium, and attendance will be limited to the first 100 people who register for the meeting. If you have a particular interest in T cell immunodeficiencies or thymus biology and/or treatment of these disorders, please consider early registration, which will be posted in due course on our website. Drs. Elie Haddad, Troy Torgerson and Luigi Notarangelo are the Co-Chairs of the Scientific Organizing Committee for this symposium.
As many of you may be aware, CIS received a grant from the Jeffrey Modell Foundation to work with the USIDNET in developing a registry to capture data from newborn screening for SCID (NBS SCID) called Following Infants with Low Lymphocytes (FILL) so we can better understand the natural history and management of patients with T cell lymphopenia. We are trying to reach our target accrual of 125 infants for this registry, and therefore, request and encourage members to enroll patients via USIDNET, or patients can directly consent and enroll on the USIDNET website. The FILL grant application was written by Drs. Jack Routes, Jennifer Puck and Gigi Notarangelo, and is already generating interesting data. However, we need more patients to be able to make meaningful correlations. Here is some of the preliminary data based on enrollment thus far. Please consider this a priority and enroll your NBS SCID infants with T cell lymphopenia to this study.
Advocacy and Education
The Advocacy Committee, chaired by Dr. Peter Mustillo, and the Education Committee, chaired by Dr. Nicholas Rider, have been working with Dr. Jennifer Heimall (Previous Chair of the Advocacy Ctte) to edit and compile a series of educational videos, one of which is on Chronic Granulomatous Disease (supported by Horizon Pharma). Other educational topics are also in the pipeline for production. Both Committees are also working on other programs, which will benefit our membership, and be introduced over the course of the next six months.
The mentoring program, which was introduced earlier in 2018, has 10 sets of mentors-mentees, and there will be a brief in-person meeting of those who are actively participating in this program at the 2019 Annual meeting. We encourage members to strongly consider registering on the CIS website as either a mentee or mentor, depending on your qualifications and the criteria set by CIS.
CIS continues to actively engage with other professional societies in different specialties to ensure we remain current and active in all areas that intersect with our field, which also benefits our membership. Our newest partners are the International Society for Systemic Autoinflammatory Diseases (ISSAID) and North American Immuno-Hematology Clinical, Education and Research Consortium (NICER). Dr. Kelly Walkovich, CIS member, who leads NICER, is actively partnering with CIS in discussions to develop programs of mutual interest. We will be defining areas of collaboration with ISSAID and its leadership in the near future. CIS is also working with the International Clinical Cytometry Society (ICCS) and the Association of Medical Laboratory Immunologists (AMLI) to develop a consensus guideline on diagnostic testing for Chronic Granulomatous Disease (CGD). The American Society of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology (ASPHO), Clinical Immunology Special Interest Group (SIG), chaired by Drs. David Buchbinder and Shan Chandrakasan, has been active in arranging a series of webinars on clinical immunology relevant to hematologists/oncologists.
Dr. Victoria Dimitriades and Dr. Alexandra Freeman, Co-Chairs, along with other members of the Women in Clinical Immunology Sciences Committee have been working on developing various activities that support the women members of the Society, though all efforts of the committee are also to engage with ALL the membership. One specific activity will be a special lecture sponsored by WCIS and Horizon, which will be held on Friday, April 5th, 2019 at the CIS 2019 Annual Meeting. Dr. Anna Han from the NIH will be the invited speaker for this lecture (see Annual Meeting Program).
Dr. Megan Cooper, Chair of the membership committee, along with other members of this Ctte, have been working on identifying strategies to maintain, and even expand our membership, while supporting our trainee members. Please check your email and the CIS website for new information regarding membership, dues renewal etc.
In closing, let me thank the members of the Council, Committees, and all of you, for your unwavering commitment to our Society, and through it, our mission to support clinical activity, and research, which will ultimately benefit patients. I wish all of you a most meaningful last few months of this year, and a productive new year ahead.
“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” - Andrew Carnegie
Roshini S. Abraham, PhD