This year’s Annual Meeting Organizing Committee (AMOC) has crafted a program full of exciting science that can engage both first-time attendees as well as perennial conference goers. The content of the meeting is broad, reflecting the varied interests of AACC members, noted AMOC Chair, William Clarke, PhD, from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “We see growing interest from laboratorians in the fields of infectious disease and microbiology, as well as molecular testing and automation, and we feel these trends necessitate exposure,” Clarke said.
In addition, the AACC Annual Scientific Meeting offers highlighted tracks in areas including mass spectrometry, genomics, and prenatal testing, among others, to direct attendees to symposia, short courses, and brown bags that may be of particular interest. Determining the scientific agenda for the meeting is no small feat for the AMOC, according to Clarke. While all submissions were pre-reviewed by point people on the AMOC, all members had input on submitted proposals. The overall objectives of the organizing committee were to “identify knowledge gaps in scientific content and ensure that the meeting was well-balanced and appealed to our diverse membership,” Clarke said. This was a challenging task, but Clarke and his colleagues surely rose to the occasion.
One of the changes to the Annual Scientific Meeting format this year is a single registration fee that allows attendees to register for short courses at no additional cost. When asked how this would impact the overall experience, Clarke was enthusiastic. “The single registration fee allows attendees even more options to choose from when selecting the types of sessions they may want to attend,” he said. “This change really increases attendee access to content.” While symposia are broader and may appeal to a larger audience, short courses have the flexibility of being more focused in scope and are more conversational and interactive in nature.
Clarke is also excited about this year’s plenary lineup. While the plenaries may seem diverse in nature—with sessions ranging from laboratory miniaturization, to mass spectrometry in the world of anatomic pathology, to the fields of epidemiology and epigenetics—Clarke promises a unifying theme: emerging technologies and novel approaches to laboratory medicine. “This year’s plenaries are really focused on where our field is going,” Clarke said. His promise certainly rings true. Last night, John McDevitt, PhD, the 2016 Wallace H. Coulter Lectureship awardee, discussed the technology and applications of his programmable bio-nano-chip system, which has the goal of providing affordable laboratory testing on a global scale. Approaching global health from another perspective, this morning’s plenary with Sir Richard Peto, MSC, FRS, on the epidemiology of preventable death confronts our field with the need to provide affordable care in resource-limited areas. “Thinking about global health in a larger way forces the lab community to think about how we can provide real deliverables,” Clarke emphasized.
With all of the scientific content covered at this year’s meeting, it can feel overwhelming. Clarke has advice for attendees: “Download the app. It is easy to use and will help keep you organized. It has also a map of the convention center!” However you schedule your time, Clarke hopes that attendees will leave the meeting “impressed by the breadth of laboratory medicine—all that is going on with emerging technologies and how managing laboratory testing in both traditional and newer paradigms of healthcare delivery is critical in providing patient care.” It would not hurt to have a cheesesteak, either.