Amy Dunn, MD, says a patient she diagnosed with hemophilia during her first year of residency changed the course of her career. The experience made her “hooked” on hematology and she “knew that it was the field for me.”
Now the director of pediatric hematology at the Hemophilia Treatment Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, Dunn hopes to bring this same passion and vision to a new role as chair of NHF’s Medical and Scientific Advisory Council (MASAC).
MASAC—composed of experts in research, patient care and public health—issues recommendations and advisories on treatment, research and other general health concerns for the blood and bleeding disorders community, and “helps answer questions that we still have about hemophilia and related disorders,” Dunn says. She also notes the important role that MASAC plays in bringing physicians and researchers together on a regular basis to “help the community, think outside the box, and achieve aspirational goals.”
In taking the helm of MASAC, Dunn says she looks forward to furthering her “community and advocacy involvement” with NHF, though she has been involved with the organization since 1994, including serving on the HemAware editorial board and providing programming for her local chapter.
“I’ve always wanted to be a part of MASAC, so I’m excited for this opportunity,” Dunn says. “After having just been a part of working groups for the State of the Science Research Summit [held in September 2021], I’m excited to bring the lessons we learned there about working collaboratively and the importance of scientific rigor to MASAC.”
A Focus on Diversity
One collaborative priority for Dunn includes diversity, including a special emphasis on resources and research for rare conditions. “I want to make sure that diversity isn’t just represented by the professionals on the panel, but by the types of patients and families we serve. Whether it’s disease state, race, age, gender or so forth, we need to be willing and able to represent the entire community to learn new things that can translate across science and make every member of the community feel represented and heard.”
MASAC’s diversity initiatives under Dunn may even have a global reach, as Dunn’s work with other organizations, including the World Federation of Hemophilia, gives her frequent insights into the impact of hemophilia and related diseases worldwide. “We’re very fortunate in this country to have tremendous resources. I would love to make sure that even as we’re raising the standard of care for our patients that we don’t lose sight of our ability to help people in resource-poor areas.”
Perhaps most importantly, Dunn cites current and historic events that have caused “mistrust of science” and says that MASAC can play a key role in helping community members once again trust science. “MASAC is an unbiased, scientific body that people can put trust in. People can turn to MASAC for a conversation—not an argument—about science that prioritizes their health and wellness and aims to restore their trust.”
Honoring Her Mentors
Dunn says she felt inspired to accept the MASAC role thanks to the guidance and encouragement of former MASAC chairs Craig Kessler, MD, and Steven Pipe, MD. (Dunn succeeds Pipe in this position.)
“Dr. Kessler has always been a mentor throughout my career. I’ve learned so much from him as a professional but also as a person. I think he really set the stage for what MASAC has become today. And then when Dr. Pipe took over, he was a visionary who emphasized scientific rigor. I’m so fortunate to have mentors to guide me through MASAC leadership.”
Just as other physicians and researchers have served as mentors for Dunn, she looks forward to using her role in MASAC to offer mentorship for others. “I think that one of the things I love most about the hemophilia community is that you’re never alone. As a provider, you’re only a phone call away from a colleague who could help you with a particularly challenging situation, whether it be a diagnostic dilemma or product-related dilemma.”
Dunn also notes that she’s felt the impact of MASAC thus far in her career—and so have her patients, even if they haven’t realized it.
“MASAC has really driven the backbone of quality improvement and elevated it,” Dunn says. “I use quality improvement science all the time in my daily work, and it’s helped me become a more efficient physician for my patients.”