CHICAGO – In the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the need for reliable, accurate, and accessible laboratory testing is more evident than ever before. At the 2020 AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo, laboratory medicine experts will present the cutting-edge research and technology that is revolutionizing clinical testing and patient care for COVID-19 and across the spectrum of healthcare. An all-virtual event from December 13-17, the meeting’s 200-plus sessions will deliver insights on a broad range of timely healthcare topics. Highlights of these include discussions exploring the newest data on testing for COVID-19, using artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve patient outcomes, new therapies for cancer, creating cross-functional diagnostic management teams, and accelerating health research and medical breakthroughs through the use of precision medicine.

COVID-19 Testing. A series of late-breaking sessions will delve into the newest research on the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic. Highlights of these sessions include a talk that will provide expert insight into the many coronavirus vaccines currently in development, an expert presentation on coronavirus immunity and antibody testing, and a talk with current White House Coronavirus Task Force testing czar Admiral Brett Giroir. Additionally, new research will be presented at the meeting about the testing used to manage COVID-19, including a study showing that a first-of-its-kind rapid test could identify which COVID-19 patients are responding to drug treatments and which patients are still deteriorating, as well as a test that could predict COVID-19 severity.

Artificial Intelligence. Machine learning and artificial intelligence hold significant potential to enhance the practice of laboratory medicine, but validating and implementing big data analytic solutions in clinical care has proven to be a substantial challenge. In this plenary session, Dr. Ulysses G. J. Balis, Director of the Division of Pathology Informatics at the University of Michigan, will describe his university’s experience developing, validating, and implementing a computational assay for 6-thioguanine nucleotide metabolites, and will discuss how this example showcases a pathway for expanding the use of machine-learning based tests in the future.

Cancer Therapies. Immunotherapy currently plays an important role in the treatment of patients with cancer. In this plenary session, Dr. Catherine Bollard, Director of the Center for Cancer and Immunology and Director, Program for Cell Enhancement and Technologies for Immunotherapy, Children’s Research Institute, will present an overview of the use of T cells to generate effective anti-cancer therapies. These include T cell engineering using chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) and artificial T-cell receptors, as well as ex vivo expansion of antigen-specific T cells targeting viral and/or nonviral tumor-associated antigens.

In another plenary session, Dr. Ralph DeBerardinis, Chief of the Division of Pediatric Genetics and Metabolism at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, will discuss how alterations in the metabolic profile of cancer cells drive tumor growth by providing better access to, and utilization of, key nutrients, and how targeting these alterations could slow or stop cancer’s spread.

Diagnostic Management Teams. In this plenary session, Dr. Michael Laposata, Chair of the Department of Pathology at the University of Texas Medical Branch-Galveston, will review the evolution of laboratory medicine and describe a plan to overcome barriers to lab experts’ ability to function as fully integrated members of the healthcare team. His model of diagnostic management teams, using expert-driven algorithms and collaborative review of the patient’s test results and medical record, is the basis for his proposed plan for the future.   

Precision Medicine. In the meeting’s closing keynote, Dr. Anastasia Wise, Program Director for the Division of Genomic Medicine at the National Human Genome Research Institute, will outline the status of the All of Us Research Program and present a timeline for its goals of accelerating health research and medical breakthroughs, and enabling individualized prevention, treatment, and care for patients. Launched in 2018, a central goal of the All of Us Research Program is the creation of a cohort of at least one million persons in the United States. Electronic health records, biospecimens, and other measurements are provided by participants, including groups historically underrepresented in biomedical research, to create a data repository following the health and outcomes of participants for 10 years or more.

Additionally, at the virtual Clinical Lab Expo, more than 150 exhibitors will display innovative technologies that are just coming to market in every clinical lab discipline.

“If we have learned one thing from the novel coronavirus pandemic, it is that the importance of high-quality, rigorous, and accurate testing cannot be overstated,” said AACC President Dr. David G. Grenache. “The field of laboratory medicine’s capacity to improve patient care is constantly growing, with cutting-edge diagnostic technologies emerging every day in areas as diverse as infectious diseases, cancer, artificial intelligence, and drug testing. The 2020 AACC Annual Scientific Meeting will spotlight these innovations and showcase the vitality and growth of this important field of medicine.”

Session Information

AACC Annual Scientific Meeting registration is free for members of the media. Reporters can register online.

COVID-19 Testing

Special Presentation From Admiral Brett P. Giroir, MD

Session 32113: Pandemic Preparedness: The Role of Clinical Laboratories and Public Health in Controlling Outbreaks Representing a Global Health Threat

Session 32115: SARS-CoV-2: Virology, Kinetics, Diagnostics, and Containment

Session 33114: SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine Basics – Current State of Affairs

Session 34234: Therapeutic Strategies for COVID-19

Session 35113: Clinical Laboratory Direction in the Apocalypse: Responding to the SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic in the First Hotspot in the U.S.

Session 32454: Antibody and Antigen Testing for SARS-CoV-2: Where Are We Now?

Abstract [B-366]: Use of real-time IP-10 measurements for identification and monitoring of the dysregulated immune response in COVID-19 patients

Abstract [B-363]: Plasma calprotectin levels are increased in COVID-19 patients admitted to ICU and correlate with endothelial cell damage

Abstract [B-365]: Circulating levels calprotectin for prediction of disease severity in hospitalized COVID-19 patients

Artificial Intelligence

Session 14001: Between Scylla and Charybdis: Navigating the Complex Waters of Machine Learning in Laboratory Medicine

Cancer Therapies

Session 13001: T Cell Therapies for Cancer: CAR-Ts and Beyond

Session 12001: Metabolic Reprogramming in Human Cancer: Insights into Mechanisms and Opportunities for New Therapies

Diagnostic Management Teams

Session 11001: The Path to Indispensability for Laboratory Scientists: Becoming the Most Important Members of the Diagnostic Healthcare Team

Precision Medicine

Session 15001: Precision Medicine: Better Prevention, Diagnosis and Treatment for "All of Us"

About the 2020 AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo

The AACC Annual Scientific Meeting offers 5 days packed with opportunities to learn about exciting science from December 13-17, all available on an online platform. This year, there is a concerted focus on the latest updates on testing for COVID-19, including a talk with current White House Coronavirus Task Force testing czar, Admiral Brett Giroir. Plenary sessions include discussions on using artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve patient outcomes, new therapies for cancer, creating cross-functional diagnostic management teams, and accelerating health research and medical breakthroughs through the use of precision medicine.

At the virtual AACC Clinical Lab Expo, more than 170 exhibitors will fill the digital floor with displays and vital information about the latest diagnostic technology, including but not limited to SARS-CoV-2 testing, mobile health, molecular diagnostics, mass spectrometry, point-of-care, and automation.

About AACC

Dedicated to achieving better health through laboratory medicine, AACC brings together more than 50,000 clinical laboratory professionals, physicians, research scientists, and business leaders from around the world focused on clinical chemistry, molecular diagnostics, mass spectrometry, translational medicine, lab management, and other areas of progressing laboratory science. Since 1948, AACC has worked to advance the common interests of the field, providing programs that advance scientific collaboration, knowledge, expertise, and innovation. For more information, visit