The 10th Annual International Myeloma Working Group (IMWG) Summit convenes in Amsterdam on June 10-12, 2019. Each year, the Summit hosts the top 100 or so myeloma researchers from around the world to focus on the major questions on the path to better therapies for myeloma and to find a cure. Researchers divide into work groups that develop actions plans for needed research and/or development of guidelines or recommendations.
This carefully organized brainstorming event is unique on the calendars of myeloma researchers, who tell us this is their favorite meeting of what are very busy years. In 2019, with so many myeloma treatment options available, it is essential for us to step back and reassess goals and objectives to achieve best outcomes for myeloma patients. And this is exactly what happens at the Summit.
About the IMWG
The International Myeloma Working Group (IMWG) was formed by the International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) to encourage dialogue and collaboration among the world’s leading myeloma experts. Its mission is to conduct basic, clinical, and translational research in a collaborative manner to improve outcomes in myeloma and to provide scientifically valid and critically appraised consensus opinions on the diagnosis and treatment of myeloma and related disorders.
Today, the IMWG’s more than 200 members examine such important topics as frontline therapy, MRD assessment, the role of transplant, genetic risk stratification, renal impairment, and how best to incorporate new treatments.
Accomplishments of the IMWG
Over the past 10 years, the output of these researchers has been remarkable: innumerable projects and protocols, and over 100 manuscripts in prestigious journals, many of which can be found here. What is particularly striking is the quality of the work produced. Scientific publications are assessed by “impact factors,” which track how often other researchers reference (or cite) IMWG publications in new reports.
An IMWG publication that has had an enormous impact is the “International Myeloma Working Group updated criteria for the diagnosis of multiple myeloma” manuscript published in Lancet Oncology in 2014. This manuscript has been cited 949 times. Another example is the “International Myeloma Working Group consensus criteria for response and minimal residual disease assessment in multiple myeloma” manuscript, published in Lancet Oncology in 2016. This paper has been cited 425 times.
To put this in perspective, a citation level of more than 40 is considered good— a level of 100 is considered really excellent. The updated criteria manuscript is such an important reference for the myeloma community, it is tracking right now at 10 times “really excellent!” I am not sure there is a word for that, but it is extremely rare for publications to achieve this stature.
Explanation of a paper’s impact
The reason the 2014 IMWG updated diagnostic criteria is so frequently cited is because it is a completely new way to diagnose multiple myeloma. This information is crucially important to everyone with an interest in the disease. For physicians, it introduces a new paradigm that allows them to diagnose and start treatment in patients before the disease has achieved a more advanced state and can produce symptoms. It is important to patients in two different ways: first, by using the updated criteria, a patient avoids early complications, particularly bone disease, and second, because treatment can be started early, patients may achieve much better outcomes.
Quite a few IMWG publications have impact factors over 100 (excellent) with some exceeding 200 or 300. These manuscripts establish new standards upon which the myeloma community relies very heavily to guide best decision-making.
Preview of the 2019 IMWG Summit
The Summit in Amsterdam will begin with a keynote address. Last year, the topic was the role of the new gene-editing technology called CRISPR. This year, the topic is the role of artificial intelligence in myeloma research, which will be delivered by Dr. Casey Greene of the University of Pennsylvania.
The main discussion topics in Amsterdam are smoldering multiple myeloma, frontline therapy, CAR T-cells and other immunotherapies, minimal residual disease (MRD), high-risk disease and relapse therapy options. Work groups will focus on these topics, along with mass spectrometry and drug access. We anticipate lively discussions and the launch of several new working group projects.
IMWG Award honorees
A highlight of the Summit is the ceremony honoring scientific excellence. Dr. Meletios A. Dimopoulos will receive the 2019 Robert A. Kyle Lifetime Achievement Award. Dr. Dimopoulos is Professor of Hematology and Medical Oncology, Chairman of the Department of Clinical Therapeutics and Rector of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece. Dr. Dimopoulos has authored more than 1,000 publications in peer-reviewed journals, with more than 47,000 citations and a high rating for the productivity and citation impact of his publications. He is a member of the IMF Scientific Advisory Board.
Dr. María-Victoria Mateos will be given the 2019 IMF Brian G.M. Durie Outstanding Achievement Award. Dr. Mateos is Associate Professor of Hematology and Consultant Physician in the Haematology Department at the University of Salamanca and Director of the Myeloma Unit, where she is responsible for coordinating the Clinical Trials Unit in Salamanca University Hospital’s Haematology Department. She currently serves on the European Hematology Association (EHA) as the chair of Scientific Program Committee for the 2019 congress.
The bottom line
The IMWG Summit is very different from the average myeloma meeting. The latter is typically didactic – researchers present to the audience, followed by a brief Q and A period. At the Summit, the idea is to generate brainstorming sessions, where we can develop new myeloma treatment and diagnostic guidelines, and projects to move the myeloma community forward in a collaborative and construction fashion.
Dr. Brian G.M. Durie co-founded and now serves as Chairman of the International Myeloma Foundation and serves on its Scientific Advisory Board. Additionally, he is Chairman of the IMF's International Myeloma Working Group, a consortium of nearly 200 myeloma experts from around the world. Dr. Durie also leads the IMF’s Black Swan Research Initiative®.