Message from 2015 AACC President

December 29, 2015

Dear Colleagues:

As 2015 draws to a close, I want to share how much I have appreciated your feedback, insights, and support throughout my presidential year. We have seen many accomplishments in 2015, and I have one more to share with you today. I am pleased to let you know that after a thoughtful and considered review, the Board of Directors approved a new governance framework proposal for AACC during its November meeting. As you will recall from my last correspondence, this outcome represents a year-long effort involving many people — AACC members and leaders (past, present, and future), staff, and consultants with extensive experience in association governance. The end result of this intensive process is a governance structure that is designed to strengthen AACC’s leadership capacity to achieve the association’s strategic priorities, helping to ensure a strong future for the practice of laboratory medicine. We all owe a debt of gratitude to the Governance Review Advisory Task Force for their endeavors which culminate in this new framework, and I thank them for their valuable service to AACC. 

AACC’s members are at the core of the new governance framework, and the entire system is designed to facilitate member involvement in AACC activities.  Leadership opportunities in the new structure are expanded, allowing members more opportunities for meaningful engagement while also fostering governance bodies that work together to guide program areas in a cohesive way.

Under the new system, all governance bodies will have clear roles and responsibilities, objectives, and well-defined reporting relationships.  Additionally, periodic gatherings of AACC committees and leadership at the same place and time are part of the plan, which will aid in communication, foster collaboration, and ensure alignment across governance groups.

Those of you currently involved in AACC committees should have received an email from AACC President-elect Patti Jones notifying you of a delay in the committee appointment process for next year. Now that the new governance approach is in the process of being implemented, Dr. Jones will contact all of these people again with specifics related to their volunteer role. If you are not currently or have never been involved in AACC governance, now is the perfect time.  AACC operates best with active participation from a lot of members, thus I encourage you to consider volunteering for one of the several new committees that will be populated in the next few months. You will hear more about these volunteer opportunities by spring or summer, including instructions on how to become involved.  

This streamlined and robust governance structure represents an exciting new direction for the Association, but it comes with substantial modification. As with any significant change, the plan will require a period of transition before it is fully implemented. In fact, the gradual transition will take more than a year, and I know President-Elect Jones is passionate about keeping you fully informed throughout her presidency in 2016.

In addition to the new governance framework, AACC has made other significant progress in 2015 on behalf of our profession.

An important achievement for 2015 was the decision to begin a new AACC journal. Scheduled to launch in mid-2016, The Journal of Applied Laboratory Medicine: An AACC Publication strives to foster lab professionals discovering new adaptive solutions to today’s laboratory problems and to inspire practical breakthroughs in the field. In addition to focusing on applied laboratory medicine studies, the new journal will consider for publication submissions on laboratory methods, management, best practices, and appropriate test utilization. It will also provide a forum for discussion of policy and regulatory issues that impact the field.

AACC’s flagship journal, Clinical Chemistry, continues to generate significant advances in medical testing and healthcare. Clinical Chemistry saw its impact factor increase again in 2015, now to 7.9, placing it in the top 3% of all academic journals. With its special January 2016 issue on clinical mass spectrometry, Clinical Chemistry reflects the significant influence of the research it publishes on laboratory medicine and patient care. Clinical Chemistry is to be congratulated on its success and thanked for how this accomplishment positively influences the stature of our profession in the scientific community.

In 2015, AACC’s Lab Tests Online resource reached its 200 millionth visitor mark, a historic milestone for this 14-year old program. Visitors to now have access to information on more than 330 medical lab tests and information on related conditions or diseases.

AACC continues to build its comprehensive advocacy program, developing position statements and educating policymakers on issues important to the field of laboratory medicine and to patient care. Two new statements were released in 2015, one on personalized patient care and a statement on direct-to-consumer testing.

Several times during the year, AACC experts traveled to Washington, D.C. to discuss how advances in laboratory medicine enable precision in diagnosis and personalization of treatments.  From my own experience, I can attest to the value of participating in the legislative process. Each time I visited Capitol Hill, it reinforced how important it is to be visible to policymakers. AACC has kept our Government Relations Committee particularly busy this year, and I thank the committee for its constructive work.

As AACC’s voice on important policy issues increases, so does the Association’s commitment to raising awareness about the essential role of the laboratory medicine profession expressed in AACC’s vision – better health and healthcare through laboratory medicine. Advancing best practices in patient-centered care and demonstrating the value of the laboratory professional to the entire healthcare system is a strategic priority. One of the ways we are accomplishing this goal is by continuing to increase collaborations with clinical societies. In 2015, the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism published a study by a panel of experts that called for accurate, standardized estrogen testing methods. The panel’s recommendations were developed based on discussions at an estrogen measurement workshop that AACC co-hosted with the Endocrine Society.

AACC has also increased its media outreach efforts on behalf of the profession, lab medicine science and research, and on important policy issues. I am delighted to report that media outlets such as the Wall Street JournalHuffington PostFDA News, The Washington Post, radio talk shows, and many more, have covered AACC news topics and interviewed AACC members during 2015, collectively reaching more than 16 million individuals about the value of laboratory medicine.

In July, more than 17,000 of us convened in my hometown of Atlanta, Georgia for the AACC Annual Meeting and Clinical Lab Expo. The Expo reached a new record number of exhibits and continues to be the place to exhibit for the IVD industry. This year’s meeting hosted more than 400 educational sessions on topics ranging from personalized medicine and infectious diseases to point of care and laboratory-developed tests and featured more than 200 new cutting edge diagnostic products. Scientific attendance increased compared to recent years, a trend we hope will continue and that is indicative of the fine job on the part of the 2015 Annual Meeting Organizing Committee.  This group set a high standard for future AACC Annual Meeting Committees.

Unprecedented at an AACC Annual Meeting, in 2015 AACC and its Biomarkers of Acute Cardiovascular Disease Division sought blood donations to develop a reference range blood sample collection for the study of cardiac troponin. I am pleased to report that AACC collected blood from 766 male and female donors attending the AACC Annual Meeting, providing an impressive sample set for IVD manufacturers to establish the 99th percentile range for troponin in a healthy population.

As my term as AACC president comes to an end, I want to thank you, the members, for your service and continued commitment to AACC. I also want to thank you for making AACC your professional home. Together, we remain committed to advancing the practice and profession of clinical laboratory science and medicine. I am also indebted to the AACC staff for working full-time on behalf of all of us; without them, most of what I have reviewed in this report would have been difficult to accomplish.  And finally, I want to thank the 2015 Board of Directors.  It is an honor to have chaired the Board this year and worked closely with all of them.  If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me at [email protected]


David D. Koch, PhD
2015 AACC President