The President’s Corner

Posted 11 April 2019

Chandy C. John, MD, MS, FASTMH
April 2019

Since I am now a few months into being President of ASTMH, I thought I’d give a very brief summary of progress. Based on input from Society members, my priorities for the year are:
  • Increasing engagement, retention and involvement of international and trainee members
  • Moving forward the exploration of an American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) tropical medicine and global health certification
  • Working to develop better financial support for the Society’s important activities
So far, we’ve formed committees for international members (headed by Board members Jetsumon Prachumsri and David Hamer) and trainee members (headed by Board members Koya Allen and Anne Uehara). These committees had an enthusiastic response to a call for members and are now being formed. We look forward to their evaluations and suggestions to guide us in these critical areas. John Sanders (past president of the Clinical Group) is working with the Clinical and Global Health Subgroups to develop an ABMS tropical medicine/global health task force, and that should be formed shortly. CEO Karen A. Goraleski is developing a job description for a new development officer for ASTMH to help with raising needed funding to support our work.

This is a lot of stuff in process – look for more updates in a few months when committees have started meeting, working through ideas on how to evaluate needs and then developing suggestions for the Board and Society.

We’re also working on two other major initiatives: The Presidents’ Challenge and the Strategic Plan. 

The Presidents’ Challenge aims to raise funds for travel awards for trainees, three-quarters of which will go to trainees from Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMIC). The goal is $150,000, with a match committed by the Society to bring the total funding to $300,000. This will provide 20 new travel awards for the next five years. I’m pleased to say that every member of the Executive Committee and Board has contributed. With these and member donations, we are more than halfway to our goal, with more than $80,000 committed to-date. If you want to make your dollars stretch, please consider giving at a level comfortable for you. 

We revisit the Strategic Plan every three years to ensure that we are thinking about where the Society should be going and how to get there. We’ve hired a consultant to help us with this, have done a number of surveys, and now look forward to a productive mid-year Board meeting where we will hash out the updates and revisions. 

And of course, Karen Goraleski, Steve Croll (our new COO) and the ASTMH staff have managed to make our move to a standalone Society seem effortless. Everything’s going as planned. That seems like no big deal, but believe me, it’s a BIG deal! A huge thank you to them for making this enormous and complicated project seem so easy and go so well.

Of course, there’s lots of other Society work ongoing, including planning for the Annual Meeting and the monthly publication of our JOURNAL but I chose to highlight some of the particular areas I’ve been focusing on. One of the great privileges and joys of being President of ASTMH is knowing how deeply our members are invested in this great Society. Another is knowing the staff are just as committed and invested as the leaders and membership, and having the pleasure of working with them. As always, let us know how we’re doing and what we need to do. Looking forward to another great year!