In a momentous year that gave birth to the World Health Organization and the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the clinical laboratory profession passed a milestone of its own, when, on December 15, 1948 at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City, nine hospital laboratorians held the first meeting of what became AACC.

Concerned about the quality of clinical lab testing and standards for the profession, these pioneers—Julius Carr, Louis Dotti, Max Friedman, Jos Kahn, Mary McKenna, Samuel Natelson, Miriam Reiner, Harry Sobotka, and Albert Sobel—acted quickly to get their fledgling organization off the ground and make their mark on the field.

“We are missionaries for the science of chemistry in a field of medical men, and we must not falter in our devotion to chemistry,” wrote editor Andre Kibrick, in the first issue of the association’s newsletter, The Clinical Chemist, published in May, 1949. “It is our task to guide the medical man so that he will correlate the results from the tools of chemistry efficiently and profitably for the public interest. We must lead the way to a common goal and a close cooperation between the two professions, so that the benefits derived from our own profession will be available to the sick. However, we must not be tempted to lower our standards.”

By September of the same year, these intrepid pioneers had organized AACC’s first Annual Scientific Meeting, held in Atlantic City, New Jersey in conjunction with the American Chemical Society (ACS) and drawing 60 participants. By 1955, membership had grown to 660 and The Clinical Chemist had become Clinical Chemistry, then and now the association’s flagship scholarly journal and the standard bearer for laboratory medicine publications worldwide.

Echoing Kibrick’s earlier comments, Clinical Chemistry’s raison d’etre as described in the first issue was “to raise the level at which chemistry is practiced in the clinical laboratory; to stimulate the development of new methods for use in the clinical laboratory; to encourage those engaged in this field to pursue advance studies so as more effectively to render service to the public; and to create and maintain a forum where clinical chemists may exchange ideas and information concerning their scientific, technical and professional problems.”

AACC remained under ACS’s administrative auspices through the 1960s, but by 1974 had set out on its own, establishing a permanent national office in Washington, DC and appointing its first full-time executive director. The next year, 1975, saw the birth of Clinical Chemistry News, the association’s monthly news publication, which later became Clinical Laboratory News, an award-winning magazine that remains the authoritative source about the science, practice, and regulation in the laboratory medicine field.

In 1976, AACC members launched the National Academy of Clinical Biochemistry—today’s AACC Academy—to elevate the science and practice of clinical lab medicine by promoting research, education, and professional development. The academy’s first clinical practice guideline, Laboratory Support in Assessing and Monitoring Nutritional Status, published in 1994, was the start of a long series of highly regarded monographs reflecting the latest scientific evidence and advising laboratorians on best practices.

By 1983—AACC’s 35th anniversary—the association counted 6,200 members and had launched three scientific divisions, Animal Clinical Chemistry, Nutrition, and Pediatrics. The AACC Annual Scientific Meeting, held in New York City, hosted more than 500 exhibitors. At the half-century mark (1998), the number of divisions had grown to 14, and the AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo in Chicago attracted 17,000 attendees.

AACC in 2001 embarked on a bold adventure in public engagement with the launch of Lab Tests Online (LTO), an online health resource on lab testing. Offering reliable and easy-to-read information about clinical lab tests, LTO now hosts content in 15 countries and in 13 languages throughout Asia, Europe, North America, South America and Australia and has welcomed more than 325 million users across the globe since its inception.

Recognizing the plusses of supporting early career clinical laboratory practitioners, AACC in 2003 created the Society for Young Clinical Laboratorians (SYCL) for all members younger than age 40 and all trainee members. This thriving professional development community offers a rich menu of online and in person education, networking, and recognition opportunities.

Recognizing excellence and dedication to the clinical laboratory field have been top priorities of AACC since its inception. The association now offers 11 major awards, some going as far back as 1952. AACC’s 20 scientific divisions and SYCL also acknowledge leading practitioners and researchers, and they support students and early career professionals through awards and travel grants.

Extending the association’s interest in quality, AACC’s Global Lab Quality Initiative since 2011 has shared best practices with laboratory professionals worldwide. Through on-site educational workshops, on-demand webinars, and translated publications AACC in collaboration with host countries’ professional organizations, presents best practices in quality control and method verification.

Building on the warm collegiality and collaboration among AACC members at meetings and events, the association in late 2014 launched the Artery, a members-only online community. This flourishing resource and virtual meeting forum has become the go-to place for members to seek advice and have vital practice-related questions answered. In 2017, more than 60% of AACC members logged in at least once with upwards of 5,100 discussions posted.

In keeping with its interest in promoting not only current but also emerging best practices and clinical discoveries, AACC in 2016 launched the Journal of Applied Laboratory Medicine (JALM). An online scholarly publication, JALM emphasizes findings and applications that are in the translational continuum between being available today in laboratory practice and becoming available within the next 7 years.

Through the AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo—widely acknowledged as the largest in the lab industry—other conferences and educational events, through advocacy and professional development initiatives, and through its commitment to publishing scholarly, practical and relevant research, recommendations and news, AACC in its 70th year continues the strong interest in quality and excellence in laboratory testing outlined by its founders in 1948.