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Poster Abstracts 1977 and 2418 to be presented on December 9 at the San Diego Convention Center 

STUDIO CITY, CA, December 7, 2023 — The International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) is proud to announce that Semaje Testamark (Emory University School of Medicine—Atlanta, GA), one of the IMF Medical Student Scholars for Health Equity in Myeloma, is among the recipients of the 2023 ASH Abstract Achievement Awards

“Each year, the American Society of Hematology (ASH) offers this merit-based award to support select trainees with high-achieving annual meeting abstracts who are chosen to present their work at the ASH annual meeting. Trainees include those who fall within one of the following categories: undergraduate student, medical student, graduate student, resident physician, and postdoctoral fellow (MD of PhD). The benefits vary by award,” states ASH about the nature and criteria of the ASH Abstract Achievement Awards. 

Additionally, ASH gives Abstract Achievement Awards to trainees with high-scoring annual meeting abstracts of which they are the first or senior author and presenter. 

Through the IMF Medical Student Scholars for Health Equity in Myeloma Mentoring Program, Testamark was able to collaborate with Dr. Manisha Bhutani (Department of Hematologic Oncology and Blood Disorders, Atrium Health Levine Cancer Institute—Charlotte, NC) in developing the award-winning Poster Abstract 1977—Rural-Urban and Racial Trends in Survival of Patients with Multiple Myeloma: 1975-2019 Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Analysis. 

The objective of the study is “to examine national rural-urban trends in 5-year myeloma-specific survival and overall survival (OS) for patients with multiple myeloma in a diverse sample of racial groups.” The cross-sectional study “used SEER data from 1975-2019 to include patients diagnosed with multiple myeloma.” 

“I have always been interested in researching disparities that affect minority patients, and I found that the objectives of the Medical Scholars program aligned perfectly with my vision. My mentor, Dr. Bhutani, and I decided to focus on a different type of disparity, which deals with the access to care in rural versus urban settings. As someone from Georgia, I am aware of the urgent need to address the rural-urban disparities in healthcare. Therefore, I saw this project as an opportunity to bring attention to this issue in multiple myeloma patients across the country,” said Testamark about creating and doing the study.

Working alongside Testamark is mentor Dr. Manisha Bhutani of Atrium Health Levine Cancer Institute, who said that "being able to present this work at the annual meeting is an incredible opportunity for Semaje to gain recognition and grow in her career." 

“Our study offers a window into rural-urban disparities in multiple myeloma over the long term. We analyzed 44 years of data for patients with multiple myeloma from SEER database and compared myeloma specific and overall survival by rural and urban counties, defined based on Rural-Urban Continuum Codes,” Dr. Bhutani further elaborated. 

“Although survival per decade increased over the near 4-decade study period in all racial groups, rural populations experienced consistently lower survival than urban populations.” 

“Only 1.3% non-Hispanic Black patients were from rural counties, therefore we did not analyze rural-urban disparity for this population. Overall, compared to non-Hispanic White patients, non-Hispanic Black patients experienced significantly better outcomes even after adjusting for all other factors including age, sex, year of diagnosis, and rural or urban home location.” 

“These differences do warrant further exploration. To untangle these complex associations, we plan to analyze SEER-Medicare linked database to understand if differences in treatment variables, demographics and socioeconomic disadvantage can explain the rural-urban disparities in survival” explained Dr. Bhutani.  

On being chosen as an awardee, Testamark remarked: “I am honored to have been selected for the ASH Abstract Achievement Award. As someone who is in the early stages of my medical career, I never imagined that I would have the opportunity to present a poster at two national medical conferences. I am extremely grateful to the Cobb Institute and the IMF for organizing the Medical Scholars program, which allowed me to create this project, and for introducing me to my mentor, Dr. Bhutani. I am enthusiastic about continuing to explore my interests in health disparities research, and I hope to keep working with Dr. Bhutani and all the wonderful people that I have met during this journey.”  

Poster Abstract 1977—Rural-Urban and Racial Trends in Survival of Patients with Multiple Myeloma: 1975-2019 Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Analysis will be presented in Session: 652. Multiple Myeloma Clinical and Epidemiological: Poster I on Saturday, December 9, 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at Halls G-H (San Diego Convention Center). 

In addition, Poster Abstract 2418 Patient Awareness of CAR-T and Bispecific Antibody Treatments for Multiple Myeloma: Real-World Learnings and Disparities—a collaboration by the student-mentor pairing of Yaw Adu (Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine—Lubbock, TX) and Dr. Sikander Ailawadhi (Division of Hematology-Oncology, Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, FL)—also made it among this year’s ASH poster abstracts.  

Poster Abstract 2418 will be presented in Session: 905. Outcomes Research — Lymphoid Malignancies Poster I on Saturday, December 9, 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m., also at Halls G-H (San Diego Convention Center). 

IMF Medical Student Scholars for Health Equity in Myeloma 

Launched on April 20, 2023, the IMF Medical Student Scholars for Health Equity in Myeloma Mentoring Program was created by the IMF, in partnership with the W. Montague Cobb/NMA Health Institute’s Cobb Scholars Program, as a novel mentorship initiative for African American medical students. 

The mentoring program is a joint effort by the IMF, the National Medical Association, and the W. Montague Cobb Institute, where medical students of minority backgrounds are paired with myeloma experts to conduct research on health disparities for six months, then are brought together at the National Medical Association Annual Meeting to share their work and form a community of physicians dedicated to health equity in myeloma.  

IMF Chief Medical Officer Joseph Mikhael, who spearheads the IMF Medical Student Scholars for Health Equity in Myeloma Mentoring Program and the IMF M-Power Project, is truly elated at ASH’s recognition of Testamark’s hard work—a testament of the mentoring program’s success in conducting research on health disparities in myeloma while working alongside myeloma experts who are dedicated to health equity. 

“It is wonderful to see that one of our student-mentor pairings is already being recognized for their collaborative work on health disparities in myeloma during the inaugural year of the Medical Student Scholars for Health Equity in Myeloma. This is exactly what we are seeking to achieve in this program—fostering the careers of minority students and training them in the importance of health equity in myeloma. I am incredibly proud of Ms. Testamark and Dr. Bhutani for this amazing achievement,” said Dr. Mikhael. 

IMF President and CEO Yelak Biru, who works closely with Dr. Mikhael on the IMF M-Power Project, expressed his warmest congratulations to Testamark and shared these encouraging words: "Congratulations to Ms. Semaje Testamark for receiving this prestigious ASH Abstract Achievement Award under the mentorship of Dr. Bhutani. Her work on health disparities in myeloma is truly inspiring, and I am confident that she will continue to contribute significantly to this field. This award is a testament to the IMF Medical Student Scholars for Health Equity in Myeloma Mentoring Program, which is helping to train the next generation of researchers committed to health equity and hopefully interest them in a career in myeloma." 

"My congratulations to Semaje for the prestigious selection of her poster abstract and for this tremendous recognition from ASH under the leadership and mentoring of Dr. Bhutani. We are most delighted to partner with the IMF as an expansion of our Scholars collaborative program that has had a prolific impact on the careers of medical students and junior faculty as well as on patients with multiple myeloma. To see this kind of recognition in the inaugural year of the Medical Student Scholars mentoring program is deeply gratifying and we look forward to seeing the long-term impact of this partnership between the Cobb/NMA Health Institute and the IMF," said Clinical Professor of Medicine and Medical Oncology, Director of the Center to Eliminate Cancer Disparities at Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson, and 116th President of the National Medical Association Edith Peterson Mitchell, MD, MACP, FCPP, FRCP (London). 

The IMF, the National Medical Association, and the W. Montague Cobb Institute are inviting medical students of minority backgrounds to participate in the 2024 IMF Medical Student Scholars for Health Equity in Myeloma Mentoring Program.  

Applications are now being accepted for next year’s mentoring program. To learn more, visit mpower.myeloma.org

  

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