From the Editor

Welcome Editorial


It’s an honor and a great pleasure to take on this new role as editor in chief for Hematology News. When I got the call from our outgoing editor Matt Kalaycio, MD, a year ago asking me to consider stepping into his shoes a few things flashed through my mind. Will I do this role justice? Do I have what it takes to be a great editor in chief?

Dr. Ifeyinwa (Ify) Osunkwo, a sickle cell disease specialist at Levine Cancer Institute in Charlotte, N.C.

Dr. Ifeyinwa (Ify) Osunkwo

Then I thought – will there be time to learn the ropes or will this be like most of my career positions where you jump into the water first and figure out how to swim later? I never once thought: “Oh no … I cannot do this and I’m going to say no!” So here I am today, reporting for duty as the editor in chief of Hematology News.

I was once accused of being “intellectually restless” which is a badge I wear with honor and is perhaps a trait I learned from my mom who was a public health nurse in Nigeria back in the seventies. She broke a lot of glass ceilings in her day – Cornell University–trained advanced practice nurse, mother of five girls, with a degree in textile and design and business accounting. She also got a certificate in baking and cake decorating and she used all her skills and certifications to raise her daughters to believe the sky was the limit.

Mom started one of the first licensed practical nursing (LPN) schools in Nigeria and I learned from her to never back down from a challenge – on a dare I got my LPN certification before I went to medical school.

You see I love a challenge and an adventure and serving as the editor in chief for Hematology News provides me with an amazing platform and opportunity to achieve a lot of firsts and satisfy that hunger to make a global difference that has always guided my career.

I’ve thought long and hard about what and how I envision this role shaping out. What do I want our readers to take away from this newspaper under my leadership? What common themes will be woven in every edition? I want our readers to be challenged and keep learning. Not just about hematologic disorders and the latest scientific breakthroughs that drive improved patient outcomes for blood disorders but also about the intersectionality between hematology and other life disciplines.

I remember taking an art class in high school learning about dimensions and proportions of buildings and I dreamt of becoming an architect. Fast forward 2 decades later, I attended a medical conference at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta and was enthralled at how various sessions demonstrated how art, engineering and architecture played a role in the development and design of orthopedic prosthesis used in amputees. I learned how engineering shaped our understanding of microfluidics, something that is now being leveraged in drug delivery science and in the field of hematology.

I want our readers to keep learning not just from esteemed scientists and clinicians but from various stakeholders – the patient, the high school student, the spouse of the hematologist, not to mention our residents and fellows, who are the future of our discipline. Furthermore, I want our readers to see the human side of hematology – the face behind the scientist or clinician and the reality of what joys and tolls we experience in this field.

A Fall 2019 Medscape survey cited the prevalence of physician burnout among hematology oncology physicians: 32% of oncologists were burned out, 4% were depressed, and 9% were both burned out and depressed. These are statistics that cannot be ignored or minimized a they ultimately have a profound impact on patient outcomes. You see, I really believe that much of the success we have in healing our patients relies not just on the medications we prescribe or on the procedures we perform or the science we leverage. Much of healing in medicine and in hematology is based on the secret sauce of being humane – defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary as the character trait that is “marked by demonstrating compassion, sympathy, or consideration for humans or animals.”

So, to sum up what to expect in the coming year from your editor in chief? Look out for some thought-provoking, fun, and unusual perspectives that are aimed to keep us learning, growing, and remaining humane in our interactions with our patients, each other, but more importantly with ourselves. #bringit2020 #HematologyNews #NewEditorInChiefPerspectives.

Ifeyinwa (Ify) Osunkwo, MD, MPH, is a professor of medicine and the director of the Sickle Cell Disease Enterprise at the Levine Cancer Institute, Atrium Health, Charlotte, N.C. She is the editor in chief of Hematology News.

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