After last year's ThinkLab conference in Atlanta was cancelled due to tornado damage, CLMA came back better than ever with ThinkLab '09, held at the Tampa Convention Center from May 2-5.
A New Experience
CLMA made a few changes with this year's ThinkLab. Besides hosting the conference in Florida for the first time in 15 years and changing the conference month from March to May, CLMA reorganized the educational program. ThinkLab had fewer educational sessions than previous years but offered longer lectures, so members could get more in-depth information and have the opportunity to ask the speakers more questions. Sessions were offered in five different tracks: business management, performance management, operations management, relationship management and innovations/hot topics.
Breakfast roundtables also made their debut at ThinkLab '09. On Sunday morning, attendees discussed the human cancer genome project with an expert panel. Members talked about personalized and predictive medicine on Tuesday morning.
Another new addition to ThinkLab was the opening reception. Held Saturday night with a tropical theme, attendees enjoyed beverages and appetizers while listening to a band and networking with about 150 vendors in the exhibit hall.
Replacing former vice-presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, who had to cancel due to health reasons, political analyst Charlie Cook captivated CLMA members at the keynote lecture on Sunday morning. Cook discussed the past presidential election and talked candidly about politics and healthcare reform (see the ADVANCE Outlook blog for more information on this lecture).
Because of their current and impending importance in laboratory medicine, CLMA decided to devote a serious of sessions to molecular diagnostics and genomic testing. On Sunday morning, three experts presented "Molecular Diagnostics: Expert Opinion--Clinical Human Genetic Testing."
Thomas P. Moyer, PhD, professor of laboratory medicine, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, spoke of warfarin and its implications with genetic testing.
Andrea Ferreira-Gonzalez, PhD, professor of pathology, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, spoke on current regulatory and legislative issues for personalized medicine.
She noted there has been increased government interest in genetic testing, including with the Human Genome Project and as a valuable source when it comes to directing therapy.
Dr. Ferreira-Gonzalez added the government needs to better understand genetic tests' usefulness. To do this, she believes the HHS should, among other initiatives, create and fund a public and private partnership to assess clinical utility; and develop a research agenda to address gaps in knowledge.
"Regulations will need to be forward-thinking and periodically reviewed as development in technology continues to change the landscape of genetic testing," she said.
KT Jerry Yeo, PhD, DABCC, FABC, professor of pathology and director, Clinical Chemistry Laboratories and Clinical Pharmacogenomics Program, Department of Pathology, University of Chicago, discussed the potential of pharmacogenomics in personalized medicine.
Dr. Yeo discussed genetics and adverse drug reactions, and focused in on Tamoxifen. He also noted many factors besides genetics affect drug response, such as age, diet, drug-drug interactions, organ dysfunction and the disease's nature and severity.
He also talked about the barriers to the clinical adoption of pharmacogenomics, such as a lack of evidence-based related testing outcomes and the lack of understanding and education of pharmacogenomics by prescribing physicians.
A New Culture
On Monday afternoon, Jeff Mark Smith, MHR, vice president, Slone Partners, Miami Beach, FL, told attendees how to get more out of laboratory employees in his educational session, "Creating a Culture that Motivates and Engages All Generations of Your Laboratory."
Smith addressed how to deal with employees who have "attitude challenges" and how to get the best work out of complainers.
He also gave attendees his checklist for creating the type of culture that motivates everyone in the lab. It includes the following points:
- Create and communicate your vision.
- Identify key components you want in your culture.
- Teach your leaders and then your employees the key behaviors for success in the new culture.
- Create tools to hold leaders and employees accountable.
- Provide a stake in the outcome.
- Retain the best talent and replace talent keeping you from the results you are trying to achieve.
- Identify the best communication methods to share results; think about how each generation would like to hear the message.
- Create experiences to have the various generations work together.
- Celebrate your successes.
Amanda Koehler (email@example.com) is assistant editor of ADVANCE.