CLN Daily

A Hidden Gem at the AACC Annual Scientific Meeting

Jessica Colon-Franco, PhD

Did you know that every year during the AACC Annual Scientific Meeting trainees have a platform to showcase their scientific work and compete for awards? The AACC Student Research Awards contest has been a highlight of the meeting for more than two decades and consists of oral and poster presentations. This event, which took place yesterday afternoon, highlighted the research of dozens of young professionals who already are influencing the future of laboratory medicine.

During the abstract submission process for the meeting, over 50 trainees from college to post-doctoral levels submitted abstracts and identified themselves as students. AACC members reviewed these abstracts prior to the meeting and ranked them based on scientific content, originality, and quality. The trainees with the top four abstracts were invited to present in the oral contest while the remaining trainees presented posters. Four judges rated the student’s oral presentations and the slides. Students competed for first and second place and two honorable mentions, all of whom received tiered cash prizes.

Ann Gronowski, PhD, moderated the sessions and introduced this year’s judges, Octavia Peck-Palmer, PhD, Tina Lockwood, PhD, Thomas Annesley, PhD, and Fred Apple, PhD, during her welcoming remarks. The brief talks were followed by vibrant Q&A sessions.

Award winners were announced yesterday evening during the joint reception hosted by the American Board of Clinical Chemistry (ABCC) and the AACC Society for Young Clinical Laboratorians (SYCL).

The work presented at this year’s contest was top-notch. Christopher Koch from Cleveland State University won first place in the oral presentation contest for his presentation, “Assay Development and Evaluation of Serum Aggrecan and Versican as Novel Biomarkers for Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm and Dissection.” Second place was captured by Jeffrey SoRelle of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center for his presentation, “Impact of Cross-Sex Hormone Therapy on Common Laboratory Tests in Transmen and Transwomen.” The two honorable mentions included “De Novo Amino Acid Sequencing of M-proteins by 21 Tesla FT-ICR MS Using Top-Down and Middle-Down MS/MS Techniques,” by Lidong He of the University of Virginia, and “Targeting Production of a Fast-Forming Proteotypic Peptide for Rapid Quantification of Apolipoprotein A1 in Plasma by LC-MS/MS,” by Junyan Shi of the University of British Columbia.

Following the oral presentation contest, the crowd relocated to another room where all the selected student posters were on display for the poster contest. Judges were introduced to the new electronic scoring system and off went the clock. Three timed rounds of judging took place per poster. The scores from the original abstract pre-review and on-site judging were combined into a final score to select winners.

For posters, first place went to Ambalika Tanak, University of Texas at Dalles, for “Electrochemical detection of Parathyroid hormone as a point-of-care testing device towards clinical applications.” Heather Robinson from the University of Michigan received second place for “A Machine Learning Approach to Inflammatory Cytokine Profiling Reveals Diagnostic Signatures for Latent Tuberculosis Infection and Reactivation Risk Stratification.” Honorable mentions went to Christopher Farnsworth at Washington University School of Medicine for “Poor correlation and concordance between NT-proBNP and BNP in patients with suspected heart failure,” and to Michelle Parker of the University of Toronto for “HbA1c platforms are variably affected by increasing lipemia.”
The ongoing success of this exciting event is owed to the efforts of many AACC volunteers and the continuous engagement of trainees and mentors. Ann Gronowski, PhD, and Elizabeth Frank, PhD, are owed special thanks for organizing this event, as well as all the judges that review abstracts prior to and during the contest. In a Laboratory Reflections article published about this event in The Journal of Applied Laboratory Medicine (July 2016), Gronowski notes: “Your AACC meeting experience will be enriched by both the science presented and the chance to productively interact with future colleagues.” No one could have said it better.