The Society for Hematopathology (SH) was founded in September 1981 as a Companion Society of what was then the United States and Canadian Division of the International Academy of Pathology (IAP), subsequently incorporated in 1986 as the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology (USCAP).   Co-founded by Costan W. Berard and Ronald F. Dorfman, Berard was the first President, serving from 1982 to 1984.  He was succeeded by President-Elect, Dorfman, who served as President from 1984-86. The first meeting dealing with the controversial topic of T-cell lymphomas was held in Boston, Massachusetts, at the Sheraton Boston Hotel on February 28, 1982.

The Society was incorporated in the State of Tennessee, where Costan W. Berard was serving as Chairman of Pathology at the St. Jude Medical Center in Memphis.  Administrative duties were handled by Sue Berard, Executive Secretary and wife of Berard, who produced the Society Newsletters and mailed the annual dues notices from her home until 2000.

As stated in the Bylaws, the purpose of the Society was to stimulate interest, investigation, exchange and dissemination of knowledge concerning the clinical, morphological and functional aspects of the hematopoietic and lymphoreticular systems. Membership was open on a worldwide basis, although certainly in the early years the vast majority of the members came from North America.  

The 1970’s had been a time of great turmoil and activity in the field of hematopathology.  Advances in the treatment of lymphomas in lymphomas and leukemias, with the introduction of modern chemotherapy, focused greater attention on accurate diagnosis and classification of these diseases.  At the same time knowledge of the normal immune system was exploding, leading to attempts to establish immunologically based lymphoma classification schemes, exemplified by the Kiel classification proposed by Karl Lennert and colleagues in 1974, and the Lukes and Collins classification published in the same year.  In short order there were six competing classification systems being used to varying degrees for clinical trials on an international basis.   The proponents of the various systems met to resolve their differences at a meeting in Airlie, Virginia in 1975, but no consensus could be reached.   The ensuing controversy led to an NCI sponsored study to test the utility of the different schemes, with the subsequent publication of the Working Formulation for Clinical Usage as a stopgap measure, in 1982.

Against this backdrop, the first meeting of the European Lymphoma Club was held in Kiel, Germany in 1974.  Organized by Karl Lennert, these meetings provided a forum for European colleagues to meet and exchange ideas, and hammer out the practical application of the Kiel classification for diagnosis and research.  While a few American pathologists ventured to Europe to participate in these meetings, North American hematopathology clearly felt a need for a similar intellectual venue, at which topics could be presented and discussed.  The annual Symposia of the Society for Hematopathology provided a setting to present evolving research in the field, and to host experts from related fields such as clinical oncology or molecular biology to contribute their knowledge.

The success of the Society of Hematopathology led European colleagues to expand the activities of the “European Lymphoma Club” and form the European Association for Haematopathology (EAHP).  The first meeting was held in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1988, and featured both Scientific Symposia and a Workshop on the topic of Extranodal Lymphomas.  The Workshop format proved to be an excellent mechanism to clarify diagnostic concepts and criteria, and in 1991 the first Society for Hematopathology workshop was held in San Antonio, Texas, organized by Peter Banks.  The topic was the interrelationship of Hodgkin and Non-Hodgkin lymphomas.   Over the years the common goals of both the Society for Hematopathology and the European Association for Haematopathology have been fostered by joint meetings and workshops.  A joint Symposium to present the proposed WHO classification was held in Orlando, Florida in 1997, and in 1999 the first joint workshop was held in Barcelona, Spain.  Organized by Elias Campo, it dealt with the provocative and stimulating topic of progression in lymphomas, with the participants required to submit sequential biopsies of their proferred cases.  Since then, joint workshops of the SH and EAHP have been held in alternate years in the United States and Europe.  The workshop panels include experts from both organizations, bridging the physical divides between us, and fostering international discussion and consensus.

(The History of Society of Hematopathology contributed by Dr. Elaine Jaffe, Jan 2013)