Do you obtain your DNA sequencing results in less than 1 minute? They do in the popular TV show CSI. Laboratory professionals know that film and TV shows have depicted laboratory testing somewhat unrealistically. In a symposium this morning, “Lights! Camera! Chemical Reaction!” Mark Griep, PhD and James Faix, MD will explore how our profession has been portrayed in film compared to how we actually perform the testing in real life. They will show us how Hollywood sometimes has been quite accurate in predicting the future practice of laboratory medicine. This symposium, developed in collaboration with AACC’s History of Clinical Chemistry Division, is sure to be both informative and fun. 

The idea for this session came from Griep’s use of stills, posters, and short video clips from movies as teaching tools in his undergraduate chemistry classes. He transformed these into a book he co-authored with Marjorie Mikasen, ReAction! Chemistry in the Movies. Griep found that incorporating popular culture into his teaching engaged the students much more than regular lectures. Faix thought they could apply the same format to teaching laboratory medicine. During the session, Griep will show a film or TV clip, and then Faix will discuss what is really done in the laboratory.

Undergraduate classes in many institutions means sitting in large lecture halls listening to professors read their PowerPoint slides word-for-word. However, teaching does not have to be like that. Attendees of this symposium will learn how to use these tools in their own teaching practices, whether they are teaching laboratory technicians, residents, or postdoctoral fellows. They will even learn some useful tips about making video clips themselves. 

Finally, while some laboratory testing carried out in film and TV seems farfetched or impossible, attendees at today’s symposium will learn that sometimes, the media really do predict the future of medicine. So, next time you go to the movies, keep an eye out for “coming attractions” in the laboratory!