Nine New York City hospital laboratorians came together in 1948 to create AACC, then known as the American Association of Clinical Chemists. These pioneering individuals wanted to raise standards within both laboratories and the clinical laboratory profession. Their concept caught on quickly, as AACC’s first Annual Meeting―held in Atlantic City, N.J. in conjunction with the American Chemical Society―attracted as many as 60 participants for a 1-day symposium. By 1955, membership for the fledgling organization had grown to 660 and our flagship academic journal, Clinical Chemistry, was launched.
By 1960, membership stood at 891 and there were 12 local sections throughout the U.S. for members to gather conveniently for professional development and networking. Though it had its own Board of Directors and Constitution, AACC through the 1950s and 1960s shared offices and administrative oversight with the American Chemical Society. By 1974, AACC had established its permanent national office in Washington, DC and had appointed its first full-time executive director.
As the Association matured, its programs and services grew. AACC passed a milestone in 1967 with the first Oak Ridge Conference. Now known as the Emerging Clinical and Laboratory Diagnostics Conference, this durable event has become a standard bearer for showcasing emerging technologies. In 1975, AACC’s monthly news publication, Clinical Chemistry News ―later renamed Clinical Laboratory News―was launched, and it remains the authoritative source about the science, regulation, and practice of laboratory medicine. One year later, in 1976, AACC published Clinical Radioassay Procedures, starting AACC Press’s tradition of producing valuable reference books on all aspects of laboratory medicine practice. That same year, AACC changed its name to the American Association for Clinical Chemistry, to reflect the needs and interests of the broader laboratory community.
Also in 1976, AACC members launched the National Academy of Clinical Biochemistry to elevate the science and practice of clinical lab medicine by promoting research, education, and professional development. NACB’s first guideline for lab practice, Laboratory Support in Assessing and Monitoring Nutritional Status, published in 1994, was the start of a long series of highly regarded monographs reflecting the latest scientific evidence and advising laboratorians on best practices.
As we marked our 35th anniversary in 1983, AACC had 6,200 members, our annual meeting had grown to feature more than 500 exhibitors, and our first three divisions focusing on animal clinical chemistry, nutrition, and pediatric clinical chemistry, were formed.
Through the 1990s and 2000s, AACC continued to grow and innovate in keeping with advancing science and best practices in laboratory medicine. By our 50th year in 1998, membership approached 11,000 and our Annual Meeting and Clinical Lab Expo—widely regarded as the largest gathering of the laboratory profession in the world—attracted upwards of 17,000 attendees. By 1998, AACC also sponsored 14 divisions offering members focused professional education and networking opportunities in areas of lab medicine as diverse as the history of the field and point-of-care testing.
As medicine became ever more complex and consumers took a greater hand in healthcare decision-making, AACC in 2001 took the lead along with 17 partnering associations in establishing Lab Tests Online, a peer-reviewed, non-commercial site where individuals can learn about and discuss lab tests better with their physicians. Now expanded to 17 country sites and 14 languages, this award-winning resource has had more than 200 million visitors worldwide.
In response to ever-expanding knowledge requirements in lab medicine, AACC starting in the late 1990s sharply increased its professional development resources. From offering just four in-person conferences, the Association quickly transitioned from audioconferences to webinars as timely cost-effective ways for busy laboratorians to learn about the latest practices and innovations in the field. We also rapidly expanded our portfolio of online certificate programs covering the full scope of knowledge needed in specific areas of lab practice, launching our first in 2008, and now offering 12.
From its earliest days, AACC also has recognized excellence in the field and contributions to the laboratory medicine profession. Starting with its first award in 1952, AACC over the decades expanded formal acknowledgement of accomplished professionals and support of laboratorians early in their careers, first with the Endowment Fund for Research in Clinical Chemistry (1979), then the Van Slyke Society and most recently the access program (2014). AACC also recognized the need to bring young scientists into the field and support their early career development by creating, in 2003, the Society for Young Clinical Laboratorians.