Supporting travel grants through AACC’s Access program has farreaching benefits—not just for the individual grant recipients but also for the entire field of laboratory medicine and for patient health. Through these grants, young professionals and laboratorians from other countries are able to attend the AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo, where they can learn about the latest research and best practices in laboratory medicine and develop long-lasting professional relationships.

Grant recipient Chinda Eveline Goma, a principal biomedical scientist at University Teaching Hospital in Zambia’s Ministry of Health, met other young scientists from different parts of the world when she traveled to Chicago to attend the 70th AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo this year. Goma attended the international travel grant luncheon, the AACC division mixer for proteomics and metabolomics, presentations on diagnostics and HIV in women in Africa, and the AACC awards recognition dinner. She also had the opportunity to tour the pathology and laboratory medicine departments at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. “I was able to interact and get views on a wide range of topics, such as quality management systems, implementing point-of-care testing, challenges in laboratory medicine, mass spectrometry applications, endocrinology and hormones, genomics, and metabolomics,” Goma told CLN Stat. “It made me realize that as a young scientist there is more to do and contribute.”

Douglas F. Stickle, PhD, DABCC, FACB, who regularly donates to the AACC Access program, sees this gesture as “simply a matter of payback.” Similar to other science, technology, engineering and mathematics doctors from the United States, Stickle received full financial support in his education after his undergraduate degree. He feels indebted and grateful to the programs that made this possible, in particular the postdoctoral training in clinical chemistry he received at Washington University in St. Louis, which opened doors for him in the clinical chemistry field.

“Support of travel grants through Access is my way to participate in these efforts to provide educational opportunities to trainees, in acknowledgment of all of the opportunities given to me,” said Stickle, director of Clinical Chemistry Laboratories at Jefferson University Hospitals in Philadelphia.

AACC Access grants include:

Winning one of the 2018 international travel grants and participating in 70th AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo in Chicago was a dream come true for Manjula Dissanayake MBBS, DPath, MD, a consultant chemical pathologist at Teaching Hospital Karapitiya in Galle, Sri Lanka. The 2018 grants supported 17 professionals, including Goma, Dissanayake, and Brazil native Vanessa Silva Moraes, PhD.

Before the AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo, Dissanayake had an opportunity to represent Sri Lanka in some preliminary meetings held by AACC’s Global Laboratory Quality Initiative for the Asian region.“I was able to build up very good professional relationships with other travel grant recipients, participants of the meeting, and experts in the field,” he said. In attending sessions such as the popular Brown Bags, he also learned a few things about the art of organizing an expansive meeting such as the AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo.

Moraes, a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Infectious Diseases at the University of Georgia’s College of Veterinary Medicine, benefited twice from AACC’s travel grants. In 2016, she was able to attend the AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo for the first time. “During my PhD, I focused on developing a point-of-care test for tropical and infectious diseases—more specifically schistosomiasis—as it has a social economic impact in Brazil. When the AACC Annual Meeting began, I knew I was in the right place,” Moraes told CLN Stat.

Networking with international scientists in her field for the first time, Moraes was excited to exchange knowledge with other scientists about different topics, present her data from a renowned institute of research in Brazil, and learn more about the AACC community. She eventually received a $5,000 research grant from AACC’s Critical and Point-of-Care Testing Division. “It was vital to my PhD as it provided me with the opportunity to conduct some of my research at the University of Georgia,”she said. Attending the AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo once again in 2018 through another travel grant, Moraes had the opportunity to discuss significant data developments from the final year of her doctorate.

“It was even more gratifying when I was notified that my work was selected for an oral presentation. I could not be happier to be a speaker,” she said. Moraes credits AACC for helping her secure her current postdoctoral position at the University of Georgia. “I could not be more grateful for the support that I have received from this huge community,” she said.

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