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As I write this, the calendar says it's spring.  But the local weather and my Chicago baseball teams are acting like it's fall.  Yet summer is weeks away and AACC’s Annual Meeting (AM) will be here less than a month afterwards. One place where it did feel like summer was at the NACB Board of Directors meeting in Alexandria, VA in late April.  While we weren’t out much, the weather was spectacular in a location providing many benefits.  It was local for some board members and also allowed both Betsy Garman and Penny Jones from NACB’s office to attend.  Plus it was right before the NACB co-sponsored Clinical Chemistry Review Course and right after AACC’s Oak Ridge Conference.  My thanks to Bill Winter, his course faculty and the many people responsible for another successful review course.  

At our April meeting, NACB’s board deliberations were lively and productive. The agenda addressed many issues. The board discussed potential use of several electronic communication tools that could increase the visibility and impact of NACB. While I’m very enthused about most opportunities, it’s a good bet that nobody will be receiving a ‘tweet’ from me any time soon. I still struggle sending text messages and am likely ‘twitter-challenged.’ Our board reviewed a handful of guideline topics that have now been submitted to AHRQ and IOM with the goal to seek their support for summarizing evidence in launching guidelines. We also identified and prioritized potential 2010 Beckman Conference topics now submitted to AACC’s Program Coordinating Commission for further consideration.

Of note, AACC EBM Chair, Rob Christenson, and ESAC Chair, Shirley Welch, were also able to meet with the Academy’s board to discuss developing a closer relationship between NACB and EBM in areas ESAC has been responsible for. One goal of this collaborative effort is to guide the evolution of the processes NACB uses as well as the ways we commit our resources for new guideline development. We also expect to finalize several decisions on administration of archived guidelines later this year. The group identified a number of potential follow-up activities to further disseminate key information and recommendations from recently finalized LMPG’s. The board also voted full approval of the LMPG on Emerging Biomarkers of Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke. Our LMPG ‘process improvement’ discussions will continue during the rest of this year. We hope to create a revised approach for guideline development that will ably serve our field, guideline users and guideline developers for the next several years.

As always, there are new programs and activities involving the Academy. NACB will jointly sponsor a new diabetes certificate program with AACC. NACB board member Bill Winter is the lead faculty member for this program with registration to launch later this fall. On another front, you probably received an email in May providing an opportunity to take a survey on fetal lung maturity testing. Results of this survey will be part of a Wednesday AM symposia session at this year’s AM given by David Grenache and Ann Gronowski. NACB also plans to update selected parts of our 2006 LMPG that relate to current and future laboratory practices in the fetal lung maturity testing area. David and Ann have graciously agreed to contribute their expert guidance in this effort.

Another new initiative involves the NACB Media and Publications Committee — especially newsletter editors Alex Rai and Uttam Garg, and the NACB staff—working towards creating an online newsletter format that would allow embedding of video files, live links, etc.

In my last report, I mentioned NACB had become a member of the National Quality Forum (NQF). Not long after, NQF announced release of a consensus report on ‘Preferred Practices for Measuring and Reporting Patient Safety and Communication in Laboratory Medicine’. That’s a key area for NACB and other lab groups although we joined NQF just as the report was being published in final form. But I’m impressed with the focus of this report and its implications for laboratory practice. I encourage you to review the public version. Our membership experience in NQF is still very new. But the board’s goal is to gain better insight into what role NACB may be able to play in NQF’s future activities that comprehensively address quality issues throughout healthcare.

Returning to July’s AACC AM, I’m looking forward to a great week of networking, education and NACB activities. Please note a change from my last report. The final scheduling of the afternoon symposium for oral presentation of selected Distinguished Abstracts is Wednesday, July 22nd, from 2:30 – 5:00 pm in McCormick Place Convention Center in Room S402A. Typically, several hundred abstracts are reviewed annually by members of the Abstract Review Committee (ARC) for possible poster presentation at AACC.

The highest rated category undergoes further consideration as a NACB Distinguished Abstract by a group using additional criteria selected by Loralie Langman who not only coordinates this program, but the ARC overall and is also a member of the 2009 AMOC (that’s what I call multitasking and it doesn’t even include Loralie’s ‘day job’). This year, six of the Distinguished Abstracts are selected for oral presentation in the Wednesday afternoon session. But all Distinguished Abstracts will be identifiable in the posters area with blue ribbons.

Also another reminder that the AM will have NACB sponsored symposia as well as other sessions and events where the Academy will participate or be represented. My congratulations again to 2009 NACB award recipients, David Sacks, Mary Burritt and Chris McCudden. They will be appropriately recognized before Tuesday’s AM Plenary Lecture as well as at the NACB Awards Luncheon and Membership Meeting on Wednesday. I hope many of you can attend the luncheon and business meeting. Details on NACB activities at the AM can be found on page 76 of the registration brochure.

Once again, thank you for your participation and support of the Academy. At every year’s AACC AM, I look forward to seeing so many valued friends and colleagues. But this year, as NACB President, I’m also enthused to speak with many of you about current and future NACB activities and issues. Hope to see you in Chicago next month.

Dr. Kahn
Stephen E. Kahn, PhD, DABCC, FACB

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