The 2012 ASCP Annual Meeting will bring together in Boston, MA, almost 2,000 experts in pathology and laboratory medicine from around the world for stimulating presentations, education sessions, and lively discussions on scientific research, trends, and issues facing the pathology and medical laboratory professions.
This year, in addition to the 150 educational sessions, ASCP is wrapping the educational offerings in important themes to help the pathologist and the laboratory professional understand their roles in the future of diagnostic medicine around personalized care.
Blair Holladay, PhD, SCT(ASCP), ASCP executive director, spoke with ADVANCE about the organization's goal of moving its annual conference toward a comprehensive meeting for all practitioners in the laboratory, pathologists, laboratory professionals, clinical scientists, even the educators as well as the students, residents -- to move it to one conglomerate meeting, as opposed to a focus just on pathologists.
At the same time, meeting organizers strived to migrate the conference content towards "what we consider to be the advance of pathology in the space of precision diagnostics or personalized medicine that requires we make appropriate choices and offer the right test at the right time for the right patient," Holladay noted.
Part of the future for pathology is helping laboratory professionals and pathologists recognize their role as consultants and encouraging them to play a more provocative role with the clinicians about appropriate decisions regarding laboratory tests as well as recommendations particularly around theradiagnostics and even therapeutic intervention.
Pathologists often have information clinicians can utilize to make better decisions around personalized medicine, Holladay stressed. "Personalized care is obviously the most important focus for the future of pathology because we want patients to get concierge care as opposed to just your standard fare menu of therapeutic choices, you want to have the right test at the right time for the right patient, that's why we're really shifting the focus of our meeting, so its very comprehensive and it has that patient-centric modality."
Fifteen-year-old science prodigy Jack Andraka will share his passion for scientific discovery with attendees. Andraka, the grand prize winner of the 2012 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, will be interviewed during a Q&A session for medical laboratory professionals and pathologists.
Andraka discovered an inexpensive screening method for pancreatic and other cancers such as ovarian and lung that is more than 90-percent accurate. By using a simple dipstick test in blood or urine, the method determines the presence of a protein called mesothelin, a pancreatic cancer biomarker. Compared to another widely used method called ELISA, his paper sensor for cancer detection is 168 times faster, 26,667 times less expensive, and 400 times more sensitive. The death of an uncle and an acquaintance drove Jack's desire to study pancreatic cancer and search for a cure.
Actress Ashley Judd will headline the Grand Opening Keynote Address, detailing her humanitarian work with YouthAIDS and Partners In Health. Judd has served as an expert panelist or moderator for many conferences, including the Clinton Global Initiative, Women Deliver, International AIDS, and Global Business Coalition to stop HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria. She has testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the urgent need to prevent the spread of HIV to girls and women.
Former First Family
Holladay will also sit down with Laura W. Bush, former First Lady, and Barbara Bush, founder and CEO of Global Health Corps, proponents for global health.
Mrs. Bush, through the George W. Bush Institute, recently launched the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon initiative, adding cervical and breast health programs to the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) network of care. ASCP is heavily involved with PEPFAR, providing its members with unique opportunities to give back.
Through Global Health Corps, Barbara Bush is mobilizing a global community of young leaders to build the movement for health equity.
Mrs. Bush and Ms. Bush participated in the recent launch of Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon partnership to expand critically needed breast and cervical interventions in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. The partnership will leverage the platform and resources of PEPFAR-established under President George W. Bush and a cornerstone of President Barack Obama's Global Health Initiative-and will draw from lessons learned in the significant scaling up of access to HIV interventions since June 2004.
This campaign is analogous to PEPFAR, but is focused not only on communicable diseases, but also on non-communicable diseases, which is "the next step," Holladay noted. While efforts to increase diagnosis and treatment for HIV and AIDS have been so successful in sub-Saharan Africa, now patients are living with AIDS, but dying of undiagnosed non-communicable diseases like breast or cervical cancer. "We want to develop the laboratory capacity and pathology infrastructure to sustain that anatomic pathology and clinical pathology throughout sub-Saharan Africa," Holladay explained.
In the capstone at the end of the meeting, ASCP is bringing a high-profile patient, television star Giuliana Rancic to discuss the role her pathologist played in the diagnosis and treatment of her breast cancer. Rancic underwent a double mastectomy at the council of her pathologist, which completely changed the course of her life in terms of the standard therapeutic regime patients get for breast cancer, Holladay said.
This pathologist helped determine the therapy interventions Rancic underwent and was involved with the clinician in appropriately personalizing the medicine beyond the microscope. "That's the next stage of pathology practices in this country," Holladay pointed out.
Rancic "is a testament to how this consultant role can work to improve patient care, as pathologists become more of a clinical interventionist and consultant as opposed to just a microscopist and a diagnostician."
More information on the 2012 ASCP Annual Meeting, including a schedule of events, is available at www.ascp.org/2012annualmeeting.
Kerri Hatt is on staff at ADVANCE. She can be reached at email@example.com.