At the 70th AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo this past July, a special networking event held by AACC’s 20 scientific divisions to generate interest in division activities was a clear success. This event-within-an-event in which all of AACC divisions manned tables during the opening mixer on Sunday evening attracted more than 800 registrants and recruited 340 new division memberships. The first such effort of its kind, this event demonstrated attendees’ enthusiasm for meeting and associating with colleagues who share their professional interests.

Joining a division opens up a huge structure of available contacts and a place to relate to peers with similar interests, according to Lakshmi Ramanathan, PhD, who chairs AACC’s Science and Practice Core Committee, which has oversight of the divisions in terms of governance. “They’ll also find out what great resources and information divisions have. We want to help these clinical chemists as they embark in new technologies and areas,” she stressed. The opportunity to join a division is a benefit of AACC membership; membership in any AACC division is open to all AACC members.

The advantages of division membership resonate with new and veteran members alike. “I have made lasting relationships with colleagues that I can reach out to with questions or for advice. It has also allowed me to gain greater insight into AACC as an organization and contribute to the future of clinical chemistry and laboratory medicine,” said Stacy Melanson, MD, PhD, chair of AACC’s Management Sciences and Patient Safety Division and an associate professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School.

According to Ramanathan, chief of the clinical chemistry service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, AACC aims to increase the visibility of its divisions while fostering more collaboration and increased emphasis on science. “We’re making a concentrated effort to work together and eliminate redundancies,” she said of division interrelations.

AACC’s divisions have evolved with the times, to serve the needs of the rapidly developing clinical laboratorian profession. Ramanathan, who has served on numerous AACC divisions, is also the founder and chair of a new group, the Tumor Markers and Cancer Diagnostics Division, which officially achieved provisional division status in 2017. “We felt there was so much going on in the field of cancer diagnostics, and tumor markers was something so common in chemistry labs [that there was a need for this focused interest group],” Ramanathan explained.

The Tumor Markers and Cancer Diagnostics Division recently had an opportunity to work with the Clinical and Diagnostic Immunology Division at the 70th Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM) in Chicago, jointly presenting abstract awards. “Our areas are so closely related, we knew we’d get better attendance” by joining forces in this event, she said.

The ASM is a prime opportunity to engage with AACC divisions, many of which hold awards ceremonies and networking events that feature highly regarded speakers. In addition to the division-wide networking parley, each division held at least one event during the 70th ASM. More than 800 attendees engaged in 30-plus division events. While many of the events were social in nature (mixers, receptions), AACC divisions also featured more than 20 speakers and panelists at the following events:

Some divisions, like the Management Sciences and Patient Safety Division, hold several events at the ASM. Management Sciences and Patient Safety’s annual leadership symposium, “provides a learning opportunity with experts in the field of patient safety and leadership,” said Melanson. This event also features the winner of the Award for Outstanding Contributions to Management Sciences and Patient Safety as its speaker. In addition, the division sponsors a poster walk to review management science and patient safety-related posters, including the winners of the abstract awards. “This allows the membership to speak with researchers—typically trainees—and recruit new members,” said Melanson. Outside of the ASM, the Management Sciences and Patient Safety Division in the future would like to offer a one-day preanalytical symposium, she added.

AACC members have several ways of keeping up with division activities year-round. All of the divisions have discussion forums on AACC Artery, the association’s online community where they can pose questions and engage in professional dialogue throughout the year with fellow division members. Many divisions also publish and distribute newsletters to their members and use their Artery pages to share content from those newsletters.

Learn more about becoming an AACC division member and staying connected through divisions in the field of laboratory medicine.