From the desk of the EMD: Goodbye Tom; hello Tom

April 2, 2018

With the conclusion of the Academy/WAO meeting in Orlando last month, there was the passing of the guard in the executive vice president (EVP) position of AAAAI from Tom Casale, MD, FACAAI, to Tom Fleisher, MD, FACAAI. The fraternity (and hopefully one-day sorority) of medical executives of allergy medical societies is small. We all are aware of the terrific job that Bob Lanier, MD, FACAAI, did for the College for seven years as Executive Medical Director (EMD) and Dr. Casale just completed as EVP of the Academy for almost 10 years.

Unless you have been in one of these positions, it is hard to understand the off and on, day-to- day activities that the EMD goes through. The staffs of both allergy organizations are awesome, but there are certain things that require the expertise of the EMD. In fact, the EMD is there to deal with the everyday, behind-the-scenes issues. This frees the president and leadership to work on the large projects which move our specialty forward and represent the organization nationally and internationally.

I want to personally congratulate Dr. Casale on his service, not only to AAAAI, but for the entire field of allergy. Shortly after I was appointed EMD to the College, I called Dr. Casale. In the past, we had worked together on the ABAI Board of Directors and as part of a CME company. I valued the advice he gave me at that time­­ - it has been immensely helpful to me during my tenure as EMD so far. Over the last year and a half, we have been in constant communication. Dr. Casale has always been available to discuss common issues. I don’t need to tell any allergist how important it is that both organizations work together on issues like USP 797.  

How Dr. Casale has juggled the role of EVP along with his research and administrative responsibilities at the University of South Florida truly amazes me. One of my favorite abstracts at this year’s AAAAI meeting was Effects of Exposure to New Car Interiors on Patients with Asthma and Allergic Rhinitis. Only Dr. Casale could get a grant to do studies with new Mercedes Benz S-Class Sedans and GLE-Class SUVs and show that their interior environment did not cause changes in subjective or objective measures in patients with asthma and allergic rhinitis. 

It will be difficult to replace Dr. Casale, but there is no doubt that if anyone can do it, it is Dr. Fleisher. He has filled numerous roles in the field of allergy and immunology including serving on the Board of Directors of the ABAI and as President of AAAAI. He has just retired as Chief of the Department of Laboratory Medicine at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center. In Orlando, Dr. Fleisher and I sat together at the Allergists for Israel dinner. We had an excellent discussion and agree that both allergy organizations must stay in communication for our greater good.

At the joint leadership gathering at the AAAAI meeting, the College and AAAAI decided to work together on the “Future of Allergy” with task forces being formed to deal with issues in academic allergy and attracting residents into allergy which will affect the community allergist in the near future. Dr. Fleisher and I will have weekly calls to chat about common concerns. We agreed that there will be times that the College and the AAAAI may not see eye to eye on an issue, but we both realize that the goal of both organizations is to do what is best for the allergist community and our patients. I look forward to working with the "new Tom." Welcome!

Michael Blaiss, MD, FACAAI, Executive Medical Director