Snapshots of 2018: ASHG Fosters the Field’s Future

Mona Miller.

Mona Miller, Executive Director of ASHG (credit: Joe Shymanski Photography)

December is a time for reflection, looking back on a terrific year for ASHG and looking forward to new directions and goals in 2019. What were your best 2018 ASHG memories, your proudest research accomplishments, your biggest professional challenges overcome? How do these inform your year ahead and how you’d like to engage with ASHG?

I’ve been reflecting on many experiences in my first full calendar year as ASHG’s Executive Director, and my gratitude to be supporting such an exciting, rewarding, and diverse community. Thanks to everyone who has been so encouraging and informative. While there are too many memories to list, they all remind me how essential ASHG is as a community, and of its commitment to advance human genetics to serve science, health, and society. Here are but a few 2018 memories, their takeaways, and some questions they spark for 2019.

  • Serving the next generation of human geneticists is key – Over sandwiches in Houston, I loved chatting with a big group of diverse Baylor trainees on track to careers as clinicians, basic researchers, industry leaders, and more. To a one, what shined through was their passion for science and interdisciplinary collaboration, natural questions about career paths and futures, and a commitment to helping people through new discoveries.
    In 2019, how can ASHG continue to help the field collectively enhance education and career paths for the next generation, and embrace and benefit from ever-greater diversity?
  • ASHG honors scientific excellence – For example, Early-Career Award winner Andrew Adey shared the impact of his interdisciplinary research and dedication to his lab during his acceptance at the Annual Meeting, offering a window into the drive and commitment of countless young investigators who are driving new pathways of understanding.
    In 2019, whom will you nominate for recognition through ASHG awards? ASHG strongly encourages nominations, and we actively seek greater inclusion of women and underrepresented scientists. Please look for the opening of nominations and submit yours!
  • Members bring their drive to scientific discovery and greater public genetic literacy – It was a pleasure to meet accomplished doctoral candidate Christina Vallianatos, who, when not pursuing neural development research, has also launched an amazing statewide Michigan DNA Day program that reached more than 3,000 students in 2018!
    In 2019, how will we make it easier and more rewarding for members to become involved in public education and engagement?
  • The field benefits from past presidents who remain eternal advocates – Mary-Claire King, scientific leader, ASHG past president, and Advocacy Award winner, inspired all of us at ASHG 2018 to be vocal advocates for science in all parts of our lives, in the U.S. and globally.
    In 2019, how will we encourage members to take advantage of ASHG’s growing advocacy resources and build our voice for human genetics advocacy?
  • Social implications must drive dialogue – When considering the potential for gene editing technology to treat sickle cell disease, it was deeply impactful to hear Vence Bonham urge researchers to hear the voices of affected communities and engage their perspectives in research.
    In 2019, what tools, resources, or events could help integrate social issues into members’ professional practice and broader scientific affairs?
  • We forge crucial connections across continents – While attending the ESHG meeting in Europe, it was amazing to watch as two researchers from two other continents – one an ASHG leader from Texas and one a young geneticist from Indonesia – shared their passion for a rare chromosomal disorder and connected affected families half a world apart.
    In 2019, how will we foster new global connections that strengthen the field’s global reach and impact?

The Society looks forward to helping you build another full year of new discoveries, connections, and knowledge in 2019 and beyond. Look for continued new programming for the community throughout the year and we’ll see you in Houston for another fantastic Annual Meeting -- #ASHG19!