By Tom Swick
Orange County, CA

I’m not sure what I expected from the semi-annual meeting of the International Myeloma Working Group (IMWG), but I’m sure I didn’t expect it to be held in the bar room of a pool hall! But that is exactly what happened at Jillian’s Billiards during the 56th American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting and Exposition in San Francisco. The picture shows Brian G. M. Durie, MD, IMF Chairman and Co-Founder; and Antonio Palumbo, MD, at the lectern underneath the Guinness sign next to the bar. You have my word that the meeting was held at 6:30 on Saturday morning, and the attendees were indulging themselves in breakfast, not drinks (at least as far as I could tell).

Swick_FinalBlogI imagined there would be a lot of presentation and discussion of the latest research in the field, but that wasn’t the purpose here. Those things happen continuously, as the experts execute their projects in their home clinics and laboratories and post their papers by e-mail for review by the group at large.

The meeting instead was devoted more to the “business” of the IMWG: status of research papers in progress, changes in processes, suggestions for new projects, etc. Of course, you couldn’t bring this “Who’s Who” in the world of myeloma together and not expect them to push back and challenge each other. However, in my opinion the most significant news was changing the IMWG process to allow more members to review papers earlier in the cycle. But then, I worked as a process engineer, not a research scientist.

I learned a lot attending the ASH meeting, and the IMWG session was certainly a highlight. I am thankful to the IMF, particularly Robin Tuohy and Kelly Cox, and my fellow support group leader attendees, for inviting me to attend and making it such a terrific experience.

I passed by Jillian’s Billiards again on Monday night. This time, it was filled with patrons drinking beer and watching football on the multitude of big screen TVs. Quite a change from the IMWG meeting, but the venue was well suited for both!

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