The 2020 AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo sets a new course this year to accommodate social distancing needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. As Paul Jannetto, PhD, DABCC, FAACC, chair of the Annual Meeting Organizing Committee (AMOC), explains, participants will be able to enjoy meeting staples and traditions while experiencing the event in a virtual format. 2020 AACC also will showcase emerging data, research, and technological advancements of importance to clinical laboratory professionals worldwide, while offering intimate and detailed interactions with exhibitors and rich networking opportunities with colleagues from across the globe.

In a Q&A, Jannetto offers an insider’s perspective of the 5-day program, taking place December 13–17.

Q: The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted life and livelihoods far and wide, and 2020 AACC is no exception. How do you expect this event to unfold?

A: The pandemic has definitely impacted everyone’s lives. The good news is that both the essential educational elements and some exciting new interactive opportunities now exist for the virtual 2020 Annual Scientific Meeting. In fact, the pandemic has actually allowed us to add additional late-breaking science to an already strong academic program put together by AMOC.

This year’s meeting will kick off on Sunday, December 13, with some exciting new AACC University courses and a few reappearances. That same day, after a special talk show session on the application of machine learning on a patient’s likelihood of a myocardial infarction, Michael Laposata, MD, PhD, will give the opening plenary session on the indispensable role that laboratory scientists play as members of diagnostic healthcare teams.

Monday, December 14, through Thursday, December 17, will have various interactive roundtable sessions, stimulating plenary lectures, scientific sessions, and other special sessions. Attendees will also have 24/7 access to the Clinical Lab Expo, ePosters, and on-demand scientific sessions. It is definitely something that AACC members and nonmembers will not want to miss.

Q: Besides the big obvious of being virtual, how will this event differ from an in-person Annual Scientific Meeting?

A: The virtual meeting will still feature all of the traditional offerings our attendees have come to expect, but includes a new twist. AACC is using novel interactive technology for several sessions and is offering several innovative networking opportunities. As an added bonus, the virtual content will remain available 24/7 for 4 weeks after the meeting ends, until January 18, 2021. As a result, individuals can access the educational content on demand. Unlike traditional AACC Annual Scientific Meetings when several top-notch scientific sessions might be offered at the same time and attendees have to choose just one to attend, they now will have access to all scientific and plenary sessions when it’s convenient for them, and at a reduced rate.

Q: What tips do you have for attendees to get the most out of this event?

A: I strongly recommend people follow the 2020 AACC Annual Scientific Meeting Forum on AACC Artery—open to all meeting registrants—and sign up for meeting updates on the AACC website. AACC.org is fully loaded with details about the conference program and schedule, special events, and the Clinical Lab Expo.

An exciting new item we are also debuting at this year’s meeting is AACC TV. AACC is partnering with WebsEdge to produce a daily TV show that will be screened during the 2020 AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo. AACC has authorized WebsEdge to reach out to meeting attendees in order to capture highlights of the meeting science and attendee experience for AACC TV.

Q: Which highlights are you most looking forward to?

A: While the COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact, it has highlighted the important role that clinical laboratories and clinical laboratory professionals play in healthcare. This means I am really excited to learn the latest information at the late-breaking sessions on COVID-19, which cover timely and novel research on the evolving SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. We are honored to have Assistant Secretary of Health Adm. Brett P. Giroir, MD, discuss laboratory testing efforts and challenges across the United States. In addition, we have leading scientists/clinicians talking about the latest information on vaccines, therapeutic strategies, and antibody and antigen testing for SARS-CoV-2. I definitely don’t want to miss any of these exciting sessions.

Q: Networking is a big part of an in-person Annual Scientific Meeting. How might attendees connect and catch up with each other during this year’s virtual meeting?

A: Networking is definitely one of my favorite parts of the AACC Annual Scientific Meeting as it brings together colleagues and friends from around the world. This year, AACC has some really creative and fun events planned to generate a community vibe even though we’ll be together virtually. 

Social events will take place in the evenings, including a members-only Happy Hour on Monday, a Network Night on Tuesday with a DJ in the main room and breakouts to mingle with AACC leaders, play trivia with AMOC members, and discuss lessons learned about SARS-CoV-2 testing. That night we’ll also see a fashion parade of ugly sweaters and a talent show, both demonstrating that clinical laboratorians are more than just dedicated healthcare professionals. Daily icebreakers also are being planned.

Q: Which types of sessions/content were you and your AMOC colleagues most interested in seeing presented at 2020 AACC, and how does the program reflect those interests?

A: I want to first start off by thanking my amazing AMOC. Together, we have tried to put together a balanced program with content that covers all areas of laboratory medicine from traditional clinical chemistry to hematology, coagulation, molecular, and microbiology. We have several exciting opportunities for our broad membership, including Society for Young Clinical Laboratorians members who might want to sign up for the AACC University Certification Board Review Course on Sunday. We also have numerous point-of-care testing programming options along with several laboratory management topics, including how to enhance your safety savvy. Of course, one of the sessions I am particularly excited about is by my Mayo Clinic colleague Matthew Binnicker, PhD, who is going to be talking about the role of clinical labs and public health in controlling outbreaks representing a global health threat. In the end, we have 12 different clinical tracks of scientific programs that attendees can follow.

Join AACC’s community online December 13–17 for 5 days of scientific education, inspiration, and networking. Register by November 13 to receive an advance discount.