Member-to-Member Blog

Society Membership During COVID-19 – More Important Than Ever

Avrum Gotlieb
Avrum I. Gotlieb, MDCM, FRCPC
University of Toronto

The American Society for Investigative Pathology (ASIP), Association of Pathology Chairs (APC), and other scientific and professional societies in the pathology community have helped us in good times and in times of need. Now is the time to give back. Renew your membership promptly and actively encourage trainees and faculty colleagues to join the ASIP so our pathology discipline grows and remains a strong and vibrant community of scientists, clinicians, and their trainees.

Although biomedical institutions will be faced with budgetary shortfalls, it is essential for universities, hospitals, and research institutes not to advise their faculty and trainees to delay renewing professional and scientific society dues. This is a concern especially if this becomes a trend across several institutions where dues are paid for directly or indirectly by the institution. In fact institutions should be encouraging faculty and students to actively strengthen their disciplines so that our healthcare enterprise remains ready to meet the challenges of COVID-19 and to manage a successful recovery.

Delay or cancellation of membership is very harmful to the structure of the research, academic and teaching infrastructure that scientific and professional societies have so carefully and successfully helped to develop over the years at these very institutions. Over the past forty years I have had the good fortune to be an active member of several scientific and professional pathology societies and this has benefited my own career as well as enhanced my ability to contribute meaningfully to the academic mission of my own university and hospital.

I have seen the benefit of membership in these societies. The societies have created communities of like-minded scientists, clinicians, and clinician scientists by providing essential platforms for dissemination, discussion, and opportunities to foster collaborations of the very best science faculty and students produce. These societies provide forums to enhance the education of medical students, undergraduates, graduate students, and post-graduate pathology trainees. It is here that innovative ideas and successful education platforms are shared with colleagues. These societies through their annual meetings and publications have become the launch pads for graduate students and early faculty as they seek to meet colleagues and senior investigators in their field and obtain face to face feedback on their research. The program committee of dedicated colleagues puts in much time and effort to create an innovative program to benefit faculty and trainees. These societies create useful programs for professional development, career planning and mentorship. They act to advocate on behalf of our discipline to governments, funding agencies and the public. Giving the pathology research and education community a voice is essential for our continued development and growth in this dynamic and fast-paced world we live in. Those who serve in volunteer leadership positions in the societies gain very useful expertise that they bring back to their own institutions. Having served in several leadership positions, I was always impressed with the talented administrative staff who work diligently to keep the society on track and show innovation and dedication in making the society the best it could be.

Now is the time to actively strengthen our scientific and professional societies. These societies are rising very effectively to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic by providing essential on-line platforms to exchange information, to answer troubling questions, and to establish collaborations on research and clinical matters. These societies are also organizing numerous e-learning platforms, webinars, and on-line symposia to replace the many face-to-face meetings that had to be cancelled due to COVID-19. It is the membership of these societies who are offering their time and energy to present material to faculty and students during this pandemic that we are living through. The communications and chatter on APC and ASIP list-serves has been outstanding in providing new information, advice, and comfort in real time to our pathology community.

Most of these societies exist to a large extent on their membership dues and on members in good standing attending their meetings and courses, and utilizing other offerings. Delay in paying membership dues may provide cash flow problems. Unfortunately, putting payment on the back burner will result in additional administrative work for the society and may indeed result in loss of some members.

I hope that we all go to the ASIP and APC websites and pay our 2020 membership dues promptly to show our strong support of our discipline especially in this time of enormous challenge where we, the members of our discipline, are performing so well on center-stage. In many ways we have been preparing all our lives to meet this type of pandemic challenge and our scientific and professional societies have partnered in helping us to obtain the knowledge and skills we need to succeed.

About the Author
Dr. Avrum I. Gotlieb is a Professor in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology at the University of Toronto. Dr. Gotlieb also serves as a University of Toronto Consultant Staff Pathologist in the Laboratory Medicine Program, University Health Network. Dr. Gotlieb continues to serve on the Governing Council of the University of Toronto. Dr. Gotlieb is a Past President of the ASIP (2001-2002), and has served in the ASIP leadership in many ways over several decades of membership, including as a member of the ASIP Council (1997-2011), Chair of the Program Committee (1996-1998), Chair of the Education Committee (1998-2002), and as a member of the Research and Science Policy Committee (since 2010). He was the third recipient of the ASIP Robbins Distinguished Educator Award in 2011. Dr. Gotlieb has authored several books (and other publications) on the subject of career development in pathology, including the recently published Planning for a Career in Biomedical and Life Sciences; Learn to Navigate a Tough Research Culture by Harnessing the Power of Career Building, 2nd Edition (Elsevier, 2018).

Read more about Dr. Gotlieb in his ASIP Member Spotlight below.

Member Spotlight

October 2018 Dr. Avrum I. Gotlieb is a Past President of the American Society for Investigative Pathology (2001-2002) and has been a member of the organization for 57 years. Dr. Gotlieb is the founding Chair of the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, Faculty of Medicine, at the University of Toronto (1997-2008).