International Travel Grants

International Travel Grants
Bringing Laboratorians Together to Share Knowledge

By Nancy Sasavage, PhD

Each year, thousands of laboratory professionals from across the U.S. come together at this annual event, the largest gathering devoted solely to clinical laboratory medicine. Over the last decade, however, the AACC Annual Meeting and Clinical Lab Expo have increasingly drawn participants from around the world. We extend a special welcome to all international attendees, both exhibitors and laboratorians, who are here in Anaheim, Calif. this week.

But with the high cost of international travel, not every laboratorian who wants to attend has the financial resources to do so. Recognizing this situation, AACC’s Van Slyke Foundation (VSF) has made financial support for deserving laboratorians from emerging countries one of its primary goals. For more than 20 years, the foundation has provided travel support to offset expenses for 20–25 laboratorians from underserved areas of the world to attend the AACC annual meeting. The grants include up to $2,500 for travel and a free registration, allowing many laboratorians the opportunity to gain valuable knowledge for their own personal growth, as well as improving their lab’s services.

This long-standing program would not be possible without generous contributions to VSF from both corporate and private donors. Major contributors to this effort have been: Gerald and Sandy Gallwas; Jocelyn Hicks, PhD; and Mary Lou Gantzer, PhD. Two grants are supported every year in memory of Earl J. Scherago, founder of Scherago International, Inc., the organization that runs the Clinical Lab Expo for AACC. Support also comes from AACC’s Divisions, Local Sections, and other individuals.

The Application Process

Choosing the winners is always difficult and is becoming increasingly so as many more individuals apply than can be supported by the foundation. To ensure that the support goes to laboratorians who will have a significant impact on clinical laboratory medicine in their home country, applicants must submit their qualifications to VSF by December 31. In particular, they must state why attending the AACC Annual Meeting will impact their work as a clinical laboratory scientist. Two letters of support from applicant’s organization, as well as their resume, are also needed.

Class of 2009 International Travel Grant Winners
While at the annual meeting, International Travel Grant winners
have the opportunity to meet colleagues
from around the world at a luncheon just for them
and a reception held for all international attendees.
This photo is from last year’s AACC annual meeting.

The Class of 2010

This year’s 23 winners come from 16 countries, many of them attending this annual meeting for the first time. CLN contacted several and asked them to share their thoughts on what being here in Anaheim this week means to them. Here’s what they had to say.

Sureka Chackrewarthy, Dphil  
Head/Senior Lecturer 
University of Kelaniya,  Sri Lanka 
Supported by a gift from Beckman Coulter 

What are you looking forward to the most about the AACC Annual Meeting?
There are many things that I look forward to at the annual meeting of AACC. Mostly, I look forward to the exposure to the international scientific community and to participate in educational sessions in clinical laboratory science. This will definitely help in improving my outlook as a clinical biochemist.

How did you hear about the opportunity to receive a grant?
I got to know about the opportunity to receive a grant through the AACC website, which I access frequently to get an update of clinical laboratory news and research.

What do you want to bring back to your lab?
I want to bring back information on the latest laboratory products and services that can help improve the quality and the standards of the diagnostic service we provide at our lab at the University of Kelaniya in Sri Lanka. In my role as a lecturer, I want to learn the latest advances of clinical biochemistry and expand my knowledge in the research topics of my interest.

Lin Zhang, MD  
Pathology Resident 
Peking Union Medical College Hospital, China 
Supported by a gift from D. Robert Dufour

What are you looking forward to the most at the AACC Annual Meeting?
I have known that the annual conference is the largest of its the kind in the world. I want to learn about cutting-edge research and understand state-of-the-art technology that will be presented in the meeting.

Why did you want to attend the Annual Meeting?
I would like to introduce the knowledge I gain from the conference and share with my colleagues and my peers in my department and with the Chinese clinical laboratory community.

How did you hear about the opportunity to receive a grant?
As a member of AACC since 2009, I have gained a great amount of valuable learning resources and information from the AACC website. I also learned about the grant from the AACC website.

What do you want to bring back to your lab?
The AACC Annual Meeting is the most prestigious conference in the professional field. The information from the annual meeting will be the current, cutting-edge research and insights. I would like to bring back the new ideas of research and conduct our own research project with my colleagues based on the information I learn. I especially would like to learn about the accreditation process of the laboratory and the study of current biomarkers of cardiovascular diseases. Because our laboratory is preparing for CAP accreditation this year, we would like to know more about the accreditation process and how to make a full preparation.

Weiwei Liu, PhD  
Research Associate
Department of Laboratory Medicine 
Fudan University Huashan Hospital, China 
Supported by a gift from Gerald & Sandy Gallwas 

What are you looking forward to the most at the AACC Annual Meeting?
The AACC Annual Meeting gives participants the chance to see new science and new technology in all areas of clinical diagnostics, automation, information systems, point of care, original equipment manufactures, and biotech. I want to learn more about laboratory medicine on an international scale. The AACC Annual Meeting is one of the best choices to do that.

How did you hear about the opportunity to receive a grant?
I learned about it from the AACC website.

What do want to bring back you to your lab?
I want to bring back new science and new technology in all areas of clinical diagnostics, especially in molecular diagnostics.

The Pledge for Next Year

Each year, VSF receives more applications for international travel grants than it can fund. In 2009, 22 grants were funded and 23 individuals received grants this year. You can help increase that number by giving generously to VSF. For complete details, go to the VSF pages on the AACC website. You also may make donations to VSF in support of the international travel grants program here in Anaheim. Stop by the AACC bookstore, booth, or conference registration and someone will be glad to help you.

2010 AACC International Travel Grants

Gallwas Travel Grant Recipients
Made possible by a gift from Jerry and Sandy Gallwas
Alex Agyekum, Ghana
Seema Bhargava, India
Weiwei Liu, China
Bernard Nkrumah, Ghana
Binood Yadav, Nepal

Earl J. Scherago Travel Grant Recipients
Made possible by a planned gift from Earl J. Scherago
Siew Kim Ong, Singapore
Daliborca Cristina Vlad, Romania

Scherago International Travel Grant Recipient
Rojeet Shrestha, Nepal

Beckman Coulter Travel Grant Recipients
Sureka Chackrewarthy, Sri Lanka
Jose C. Jara Aguirre, Peru
Denis Jato, Cameroon
Dina Ahmed Mehaney, Egypt
Alexander Popov, Russia

AACC Past-Presidents Travel Grant Recipient
David Haarburger, South Africa

D. Robert Dufour Travel Grant Recipient
Lin Zhang, China

Jocelyn Hicks Travel Grant Recipient
Harsh Vardhan Singh, India

Wilding Family Foundation Travel Grant Recipient
Andriy Kost, Ukraine

AACC Division & Sections-Sponsored Travel Grant
Margarita B. de Cabral, Paraguay

AACC Van Slyke Foundation Travel Grants
Anthony Ilegogie, Nigeria
Mehzrad Nahid, Iran
Olatunbosun Olawale, Nigeria
Fidelis Olumese, Nigeria
Adamu Sani, Nigeria


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