The Nexus of Cutting-Edge Science

AACC Annual Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo 2014 - July 28-Aug 1 - Chicago

In This Issue...

Abstracts: The Nexus of Cutting-Edge Science

A student discusses her research with a reviewer
student poster

Abstracts are like the pulse of medical research, reflecting the latest cutting-edge science and indicating where the field is going. Because of this, many Annual Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo attendees enthusiastically mark their calendars for three afternoon Symposia which each feature seven invited poster presentations, based around a theme. Each speaker has 15 minutes to discuss his or her findings, followed by a 5-minute question-and-answer session. Not infrequently, there is such interest in some of the abstracts that audience members with questions don't have a chance to pose their queries in the allotted 5-minute Q&A.

The first of these sessions, Forging A New Path: Lab-Developed Tests (32220), takes place on July 28 from 2:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. The seven authors speaking at this session will address topics as diverse as use of a serum microRNA panel as a biomarker for early colorectal cancer and development of a comprehensive urine drug screen using liquid chromatography quadrapole time-of-flight (TOF) mass spectrometry (MS).

The session on July 29 from 2:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Coded: Diagnosis and Management of Genetic Disorders and Predispositions (33215), will feature researchers presenting their findings on new methods to identify genetic disorders, as well as at least one novel genetic disorder. An example of the former is high-resolution capillary zone electrophoresis in the workup of alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency. A newly described genetic disorder that will be presented is primary hyperoxaluria type III.

The third and final session, Improving Care: Patient-Focused Laboratory Medicine (34211) takes place July 30 from 2:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. In this Symposium, seven laboratorians will describe their research involving everything from eliminating non-value-added pre-analytical processes to using matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-TOF MS to identify four serum peptides for early type 2 diabetes diagnosis.

Another great way to experience cutting-edge science up close and personal is to join 12 AACC divisions as they lead tours to highlight division-selected posters for further discussion. Subject matter experts from each division will take up to 30 full or daily conference registrants on approximately 30-minute tours. The walks are taking place on July 29 and 30; check your program and exhibitor guides for specific times, and simply show up at the poster display to join the tour(s) of interest.

Emerging science also will be on display in 34 distinguished abstracts selected for their academic excellence out of nearly 900 submitted to this year's Annual Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo. The authors of these studies will be recognized at the NACB awards luncheon and membership meeting and in a brief presentation at the start of the July 29 plenary session, at 8:45 a.m. The abstracts themselves will be easy to spot in the poster display in the McCormick Place Convention Center Exhibit Hall—just look for the blue ribbons!

There's no better way to keep the scientific well full than by encouraging scholarship in budding laboratorians. So if your schedule permits, drop by and support student poster contestants in two special sessions. This year, 70 students submitted abstracts, and four with the highest scores based on scientific value, originality, and quality of writing have been selected to participate in the student oral presentation. Join Jeff Meeusen and John Mills—both of Mayo Clinic, Trevor Pitcher of the University of Louisville, and Shuhei Mamiya of Tokyo Medical and Dental University as they compete in the Student Oral Presentation at 3 p.m. on July 28 in McCormick Place Room N228. Immediately after the oral competition, the Student Poster Contest will take place at 3:14 p.m. in McCormick Place Room N230. Here, the remaining students' posters will be judged. The winners of both the Student Oral Presentation and the Student Poster Contest will receive $1,000. How's that for starting a career on the right track?

The Low-Down on Harmonization and Standardization

Harmonization: Playing to a packed house.

In the interest of patient care, laboratorians naturally would like lab test results to be comparable regardless of when and where they are performed. That goal is behind AACC's position statement on harmonization and the newly created International Consortium for Harmonization of Clinical Laboratory Results, an AACC-sponsored initiative to prioritize and organize global activities to achieve harmonization of test results. Reflecting the importance of and interest in harmonization and standardization, several Annual Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo sessions will focus on these topics.

In an afternoon Short Course on July 28 from 2:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. (72223) Drs. Catharine Sturgeon of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Danni Li of the University of Minnesota, and Alan Wu of the University of California San Francisco will look at progress towards and challenges remaining in standardizing immunoassays.

A long-standing advocate for improving the quality of clinical lab testing, Dr. Sturgeon also has been a prolific researcher in tumor and endocrine markers. Her presentation will address how endocrine hormone assays can be improved through standardization. Dr. Li, who has an active research interest in tumor biomarkers, will discuss challenges and successes in standardizing cancer antigen assays. Dr. Wu, a highly regarded researcher and educator, will consider whether natriuretic peptides and cardiac troponin assays can be standardized.

On another front, serum thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) testing is crucial in the diagnostic workup of thyroid dysfunction, yet TSH assays suffer from lack of harmonization and standardization as well as improper reference intervals. In an afternoon Symposium on July 29 from 2:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. (33211), a trio of endocrinology testing experts will address some of the challenges with accurate TSH testing, as well as the clinical consequences of not having robust TSH results.

Dr. Gilbert Fareau, an endocrinologist and assistant professor of medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Madison, will discuss age and ethnic considerations in determining TSH normal ranges. Previously honored with the National Academy of Clinical Biochemistry's Distinguished Scientist Award and as an AACC Outstanding Speaker, Dr. Carole Spencer has devoted her research career to the clinical and laboratory aspects of thyroid disease and treatment, and she will speak about the analytical considerations in TSH measurement. Finally, Dr. David Sarne, an endocrinologist and clinical associate of medicine at the University of Chicago, will address patient management matters related to the TSH normal range.

Last but not least, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has taken a very active role towards achieving standardized testing of hormones including testosterone, estradiol, and vitamin D through its Hormone Standardization and Vitamin D Standardization Certification Programs. Dr. Julianne Botelho, lead research chemist with CDC's Hormone Reference Laboratory and Standardization Program will update attendees on these two important programs. In a Brown Bag session on July 28 from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. (42119) repeated from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. (52219) Dr. Botelho will discuss CDC's Hormone Standardization Program and the resources it offers labs, while also examining why hormone standardization is vital. In a separate pair of Brown Bag sessions on July 30 from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. (44102) and again from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. (54202), Dr. Botelho will discuss the need for and state of standardization of vitamin D measurements. She also will update attendees on CDC's Vitamin D Standardization Certification Program, which helps labs assess the accuracy and performance of their lab-developed vitamin D tests.

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