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October 28, 2015 – A packed house of 240 clinicians, scientists, nurses, industry, consumers and other participants attended the 10th Cooley’s Anemia Symposium in Rosemont, IL from October 18-22. This invaluable meeting, presented by the Cooley’s Anemia Foundation (CAF) and the New York Academy of Sciences(NYAS) is an anticipated and milestone event held only every 5 years.
CAF and NYAS have been convening these symposia since 1963 as a way of focusing attention on advances in both clinical care practices for thalassemia and in scientific research that points the way toward potential new therapies. Thalassemia experts from around the world are invited to make presentations to an audience that is likewise international in its composition.
“The excitement was evident from the start of the Symposium,” CAF National President Anthony Viola reported. “Reports on tremendous progress in curative research, potential new treatment options that are currently in clinical trials that may come to market in the near future, and the ongoing modifications to provide the best patient care possible was presented and warmly received by all the attendees.”
The range of topics presented over the course of the Symposium was impressive and indicates just how active and vital the thalassemia field has been since the last Symposium in 2009. The presentations ran from gene therapy and gene regulation to clinical management, from chelation and iron imaging to iron regulation and emerging therapies. Indeed, there was so much important information to convey that some sessions were presented concurrently in separate rooms in order to fit everything in to the allotted time. (The full agenda can be accessed at http://www.nyas.org/Events/Detail.aspx?cid=244781db-3089-4f17-8add-f16c73d821fb.)
The quality of the information presented was of such a high level that picking any to highlight in this small space is impossible. However, special mention should be made of a presentation made by an individual with thalassemia. CAF makes a special effort to include a patient voice in these Symposia, and for the 10th Symposia, the individual selected was someone who has recently completed participation in a gene therapy trial. Her comments and insights presented a patient perspective that reminded all those present of exactly why this meeting is so important: because of the patients. The science and the data are exciting and enlivening on their own, but all of that work ultimately exists only to make life better for every person with thalassemia.
Special mention must be made of the incredible efforts of the Scientific Organizing Committee, led by its Chair, Ellis J. Neufeld, MD, PhD. These dedicated individuals put together a program that made possible what some have called the best thalassemia meeting ever.
Much information about the sessions was Tweeted (Twitter.com/cooleysanemia) and posted on Facebook (Facebook.com/cooleysanemiafoundation) during the proceedings. This will be posted here on the CAF website soon.