The History of ASCAT
THE HISTORY OF ASCAT
The Academy for Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia (ASCAT), formerly known as the Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia Course, was officially launched in October 2016 at the prestigious Royal College of Physicians in the United Kingdom. Initially established in 2006 as an in-house teaching program by Dr. Baba Inusa at Guy's and St Thomas NHS Trust (GSTT), ASCAT has evolved into a prominent platform for medical professionals dedicated to the field of Sickle Cell Disease and Thalassaemia.
The primary objective of ASCAT is to assemble world-leading specialists and practitioners to facilitate the exchange of ideas, provide updates on cutting-edge therapies, and enhance patient care practices. In its early years, the course focused on offering comprehensive training to doctors and nurses in the UK, seeking to acquaint them with the spectrum of disorders in Sickle Cell Disease and Thalassaemia, as well as provide in-depth reviews of current management strategies. Additionally, ASCAT aimed to support the seamless integration of newly appointed staff into the specialised care required for haemoglobinopathies.
Initially, the course ran for five days but was later streamlined to a three-day program, primarily led by dedicated volunteers including specialists from Evelina London Children's Hospital and other medical professionals on postgraduate placements. However, as the number of delegates steadily increased, the demand for professional expertise in organising the conference became apparent.
Between 2013 and 2015, Dr. Baba Inusa enlisted the assistance of the commercial department at Guy's and St Thomas Trust to ensure the successful execution of the event, which took place at the esteemed Tower Hotel in London. This marked a significant milestone in the course's transformation into the distinguished Academy for Sickle Cell Disease.
To enhance the program's breadth and depth, Dr. Inusa expanded the steering committee by including esteemed members from the United States, Italy, and the UK. This strategic decision broadened perspectives and increased the program's global reach. Consequently, ASCAT experienced remarkable growth in its faculty and guest speakers, expanding from an initial five experts to over 30 renowned authorities in the fields of Sickle Cell Disease, Thalassaemia, and related scientific disciplines.
ASCAT has evolved beyond its original scope, encompassing a wide range of haemoglobinopathies, with particular emphasis on Thalassaemia and emerging therapeutic interventions such as gene therapy, gene editing, and bone marrow transplantation. These advancements are now central topics addressed within the Academy's comprehensive educational seminars, lectures, and tutorials.
Furthermore, ASCAT has fostered vital collaborations with esteemed organisations like Eurobloodnet, Oxford, which led to the introduction of a specialist patient forum in 2019. This platform facilitates meaningful discussions on research priorities, ensuring that patient perspectives are duly considered.
In 2020, ASCAT achieved a significant milestone by forging partnerships with the European Hematology Association (EHA) and the British Society of Haematology (BSH). These collaborations resulted in a joint conference to celebrate the EHA's 1st Sickle Cell Conference and the BSH's 60th Anniversary. ASCAT's collaboration with the European Rare Anaemia Consortium (Eurobloodnet) further solidified its position as an internationally recognised authority in haematology.
Through these esteemed collaborations and partnerships, ASCAT's influence and global reach have substantially expanded. In 2020, the Academy witnessed an impressive attendance of over 1100 delegates, solidifying its reputation as a premier gathering for healthcare professionals dedicated to Sickle Cell Disease, Thalassaemia, and related disciplines.