Wallace Coulter

Sunday's opening plenary session featured a luminary of science, C. Ronald Kahn, MD, chief academic officer of the Joslin Diabetes Center and Mary K. Iacocca professor at Harvard Medical School in Boston. Recipient of the 2013 Wallace H. Coulter Lectureship Award, Kahn for more than 3 decades has been a pioneering researcher in the field of insulin receptors and their role in type 2 diabetes and other diseases, earning him world-wide recognition. He leads a large consortium of investigators using gene and protein expression studies to define obesity, diabetes, and other insulin-resistant states.

Recognition of Kahn's exceptional contributions to medical research is but one way AACC and the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation will be honoring Coulter during the centennial of his birth. Five years of effort by AACC's Emerging Countries Program along with the unfailing support of the Coulter Foundation also are being showcased this week.

With a visionary grant from the Coulter Foundation, AACC created the Emerging Countries Program to promote global cross-cultural learning and leadership opportunities. This initiative reflects the Association's vision of better health and healthcare through laboratory medicine as well as Coulter's life-long commitment to improving healthcare and embracing the diversity of world cultures.

"I'm very excited about what's been accomplished, and the support from both AACC and the Coulter Foundation. I'm really pleased with how things have developed and progressed over the last five years," said Latin American Working Group (LAWG) Committee chair Barbara M. Goldsmith, PhD, FACB. "The AACC board has been unwavering and extremely positive, and there's such commitment of staff resources and time from the organization. Likewise, the Coulter Foundation has been very supportive of our intent to focus initially on Latin America. Their involvement has been critical, and without it we wouldn't have been doing this." The LAWG provides advice and oversight in planning and implementing Emerging Countries Program educational projects. Goldsmith also praised the LAWG Committee, whose members have volunteered countless hours and energetically guided and promoted Emerging Countries Program initiatives (see Box, below).

Latin American Working Group Committee Members

Barbara Goldsmith, Chair (US)
Rosa Sierra-Amor (Mexico)
Stella Raymondo (Uruguay)
Ana Leticia Caceres de Maselli
Jose Jara Aguirre (Peru)

Barbara Goldsmith, Chair (US)
Rosa Sierra-Amor (Mexico)
Jose Jara Aguirre (Peru)
Omar Laterza (US)
Veronica Luzzi (US)
M. Laura Parnas (US)

For more information, contact the AACC Program Manager, Angel Colon at [email protected].

Goldsmith in 2009 served as president of AACC, and she has been involved with the Emerging Countries Program since it was merely a concept. To see it blossom into such a dynamic, substantive program has been quite gratifying, she said. "We're so excited about this. It's one of the greatest things from AACC because for someone who is from one of the countries where we've held programs, we're providing a real service. The knowledge they gain will be passed along, not only to the specific laboratories where they work but also to all the people who work in them or are connected to them in some way."

The Inspiration of Wallace Coulter

The Coulter Foundation and AACC began their partnership in 2003 with a grant to support AACC's annual Oak Ridge Conference. In 2008 the partnership expanded with a commitment from the Coulter Foundation to AACC for $250,000 per year for 5 years to create training and development programs for clinical laboratorians in resource-limited countries worldwide. The Coulter Foundation's interest in such an initiative was inspired by Wallace Coulter's enduring interest in improving global health. As a young engineer in the 1930s and 40s, he worked throughout the Far East and traversed four continents to make it home at the outbreak of World War II. These multicultural experiences forever changed Coulter and set the stage for his interest in deploying technology and engineering to transform patient care around the world.

Now, with the Emerging Countries Program off to a good start and in commemoration of the centennial of Wallace Coulter's birth, AACC and the Coulter Foundation are continuing to collaborate on the Emerging Countries Program, and the Coulter Foundation is maintaining its enthusiastic support of the Wallace H. Coulter Lectureship Award. The latter, inaugurated in 2009, is AACC's highest award and recognizes an outstanding individual who has demonstrated a lifetime commitment to laboratory medicine or patient care and significantly advanced education, practice, or research.

A Solid Foundation

Workshops, launched in 2010, are the foundation of the Emerging Countries Program. After extensive planning and development, AACC held its first 2-day session, "Adding Value to Patient Care Using Internal Quality Control," in Quito, Ecuador. Three sessions of this popular program took place last year in Lima, Peru; Asuncion, Paraguay; and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, respectively. Each educational program was sponsored in conjunction with the host country's clinical chemistry association, an important ingredient for their success, according to Goldsmith. "From the beginning our intent was to partner with a local society because we felt we really couldn't do this on our own. We also thought this would most benefit each society and the people who belonged to it, and that they could help us with logistics and with publicizing these events," she recalled. "I think it's critical now that we not only acknowledge their support but keep them involved as best we can going forward."

These workshops received high marks, but they were refined over time based on feedback from attendees and advisors, including the Coulter Foundation. "We changed the composition of the workshops to be at least half practical exercises, with less didactic learning," Goldsmith explained. "We also added a lot of information on quality control, with a real eye on the needs of our audience. We realized many attendees might be from non-hospital labs with limited resources that wouldn't necessarily be able to afford commercially available quality control products. So we wanted to give practical information that could help them perform quality control."

Emerging Countries Program Highlights
Sessions in Spanish

Several Emerging Countries Program sessions offer attendees the opportunity to increase their knowledge and network with colleagues from around the globe. These sessions are in Spanish.

Morning Symposium
Mejorando la Atención de los Pacientes a Través de las Mejores Prácticas en la Verificación de los Métodos
Moderator: Rosa Sierra-Amor, PhD
July 29, 10:30 a.m.–12:00 p.m.

Ensayos Para La Vitamin D: Que Es Lo Que Realmente Medimos?
Veronica Luzzi, PhD, DABCC, FACT
July 29, 7:30–8:30 a.m. and 12:30–1:30 p.m.
Biomarcadores de la Enfermedad de Alzheimer
Omar Laterza, PhD, DABCC, FACB
July 29, 7:30–8:30 a.m. and 12:30–1:30 p.m.

AACC Emerging Countries Program Mixer
July 29, 6:00–8:00 p.m.
Hilton Americas Grand Ballroom A

Reaching Out at the Annual Meeting

This year's Annual Meeting seemed to be the ideal setting to extend the workshop model to a broader audience, according to LAWG Committee member Rosa Sierra-Amor, MS, PhD. "One of the objectives of the LAWG was to precisely organize an activity during the AACC Annual Meeting. We thought Houston, where there is the possibility to have attendance by Spanish speakers from the area or from other countries, would be a good place to start," she said. "Our session, which will emphasize the importance of the analytical performance of assays, will, we think, be very well attended."

Sierra-Amor is moderating an all-Spanish Morning Symposium organized by the Emerging Countries Program, "Improving Patient Care Through Best Practices in Method Verification," which is taking place today. Two Roundtables presented by LAWG Committee members also are happening today and the Emerging Countries Program is holding a mixer this evening (see Box, above). In addition to the Emerging Countries Program-sponsored programs, other Annual Meeting sessions are geared to the needs of laboratorians in emerging countries, or to those interested in a wide variety of analytical issues. For example, a Morning Symposium, "Meeting the Challenges for Clinical Laboratories in Developing Countries," is taking place on August 1.

Aside from educational sessions, the Emerging Countries Programs has sponsored Spanish translations of several publications important to lab quality control and analytical performance, including the highly regarded reference book by James Westgard, "Basic Practice of Quality Control." Copies of the latter are available, in print and CD versions, at the onsite AACC Book Store located on level 2 of the George R. Brown Convention Center between Rooms 215 and 216.

The LAWG efforts, along with solid backing from the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, bode well for the future of AACC's Emerging Countries program, and for the participating labs and laboratorians, suggested Sierra-Amor. "We're very proud of this activity, all of us who have been working and collaborating with AACC and with the Coulter Foundation. Latin America is large and its countries diverse, but this is providing us a way to give knowledge to everyone at the same level," she said. "So much has been accomplished, and we're very excited about moving forward." AACC believes lessons learned from the Emerging Countries Program in Latin America will serve as a model for similar program efforts in other parts of the world.