History of the Ernest Everett Just Society

In 1975(??), Dr. Lennette Benjamin initiated informal meetings of minority physicians and scientists attending the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology in order to foster camaraderie and interactions between these individuals, who were in a distinct minority at these meetings.  In ensuing years under the additional guidance of Drs. Clarice Reid and Jeanne Smith, young minority scientists gathered to watch Monday Night Football and engage in a forum for sharing updates on their ongoing research, to network, to get input from mentors and to learn of potential career opportunities.  As the numbers of minority attendees at ASH increased, it was decided to organize a formal society in 1985.  Subsequently, the Society formed an Association registered in the State of California and received its 501(c)(3) status from the Internal Revenue Service and its 23701d status from the State of California in 1986.

Thereafter, the Society initiated formal dinner meetings to accomplish its objectives as enumerated in the Articles of Association.  Collaborations with industry began in 1992 and have resulted in donations of $51,750.  Ortho Biotech has been the strongest supporter of the Society, but Armour, Pall Biomedical, Pfizer, Amgen, Novartis and Celgene have been staunch supporters.  In 1993, the Society started a program to provide financial support to junior scientists and hematology fellows for attendance at the Annual Meeting of the American society of Hematology; this fellowship was named in honor of Roland B. Scott, M.D. and has supported travel to ASH for 36 such individuals.

In 2003, the Society collaborated with the American Society of Hematology to develop the Minority Medical Student Award Program (now the Committee on Promoting Diversity).  This program provides summer research opportunities for minority medical students in order to introduce them to science, to careers in Hematology and to recruit those students into Hematology Fellowships.  The Just Society provides the majority of the members of this award committee and has been instrumental in expanding the ASH Committee on Promoting Diversity’s activities in developing an award program similar to that for medical students for minority graduate (PhD) students to introduce such students to the breadth of careers in hematology research.  In addition, this committee cooperates with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in the oversight of the Amos Minority Faculty Development Award.

Membership in the Just Society has grown from a mere handful to nearly 300 individuals, including 26 international members and an additional 25 Associate Members (non-dues paying students and friends of the Society).  This growth attests to the future viability of the Society and emphasizes its relevance to the membership.    Over the years, the Society has successfully promoted its members into leadership positions in the American Society of Hematology, supported their careers in Hematology in multiple ways and will continue to provide such support.