Dr. DeLeve President's Welcome

For those of you who may not know me, I’m Laurie DeLeve, AASLD’s 73rd president.

Once upon a very long time ago, my then-toddler told her teacher I am a mouse doctor. I am a physician-scientist doing basic research at USC. More importantly, since 1997, except for one single year, I have always been on an at least one AASLD committee, SIG or in a leadership position. I love the spirit, camaraderie, and mission of AASLD and its members and staff. So, I know the value of what all of you contribute to our society and am honored to be your president this year.

I don’t think anyone would dispute that the last two years have been exceptionally difficult.

From quarantine and social distancing to overflowing ICU’s, it certainly felt like we would never see the end of this pandemic. And while we may not be able to say that the virus has been defeated and the pandemic over, we are slowly starting to see a re-emergence of life as we once knew it. But make no mistake – we have no intention of going back to the old way of doing business at AASLD. We learned too much during this pandemic about the value of our digital presence to shirk the opportunity to continue to engage our broader audiences.

That’s why AASLD’s Digital Transformation will be a cornerstone of our progress in 2022. We’re completely reimagining the way we have traditionally presented our content to be more responsive to our members’ needs. Revamping our digital ecosystem will allow us to provide our educational offerings in new and innovative ways.

Our innovation won’t stop at just our digital offerings, either. We’re also applying it to the way we approach our meetings. We’re completely revamping the way we deliver content at DDW – from decreasing the number of abstract driven sessions to providing more content for our clinical hepatologists, advanced practitioners, and trainees. Although excellent abstracts are still submitted to DDW, it’s clear when the abstracts are reviewed by the SPC that our members have moved much of their best science to The Liver Meeting. Our offerings at DDW should better reflect that choice by the membership, while still presenting exciting oral sessions. 

Additionally, we’ll have a case-based session on “stump the expert". You won’t want to miss all we have to offer, so be sure to join us at DDW this year in San Diego.

Another area where we will continue to invest is in our members. Despite all the progress we have made over the last couple of years, our membership still isn’t as diverse as it should be. Only 3% of our members are Black and 5% Latinx/Hispanic. That’s far below national averages of 12% and 18% respectively. We continue to explore opportunities to engage diverse audiences at a younger age to start filling our pipeline with future hepatologists. Our vitality as a specialty relies on it. To ensure we’re committed to all aspects of diversity, we launched the LGBTQ Task Force in October that now has Working Groups on Mentorship and Patient Care in development.

I suspect all of you remember that finding the right mentor can make all the difference in a career, and being a mentor is one of the most rewarding things you can do. It’s for this reason that mentoring remains a priority for us.

Everyone’s mentoring needs are different, and we know there is no one-size fits all solution. Therefore, we’re actively working on diversifying our mentoring streams to encompass small group, theme-based, and women-focused opportunities. We’ve committed to a longitudinal leadership program that promotes female hepatologists in leadership through mentoring. We’re exploring online tools that will allow us to deliver these programs right on our website and provide opportunities for small group mentoring sessions where individuals can connect on topics of interest and meet like-minded peers. Stay tuned for updates as part of our digital transformation.

We were so close to holding our flagship annual meeting in person this year, but variants in the COVID-19 virus made us opt for the safer option to host our meeting virtually. However, we like to think that by next November we’ll have figured this disease out well enough to feel comfortable coming together in larger groups again – without the risk of it being a super-spreader event. Assuming nothing apocalyptic strikes, we will see you all in our nation’s capital, Washington, DC November 4-8.

We’ve received entirely too much positive feedback about our digital meeting to neglect it this year, so the intrepid meeting’s team at AASLD is already brainstorming new and innovative ways to deliver a hybrid meeting. We know they will devise a concept that will excite and delight all our audiences so make sure to register early! 

As you can see, there are a lot of exciting things ahead at AASLD and I hope you’ll continue your hepatology journey with us. We’re here to support all of you on your career paths to help you grow and achieve the successes you seek, be it through our journals, guidelines, or any of our educational content. You can always rely on AASLD to bring you the tools you need on your journey to achievement, and I look forward to celebrating those accomplishments with you.