Each year, the ASHG Annual Meeting hosts over 8,500 attendees from around the world for five days of the latest science, unparalleled networking, and opportunities to grow professionally and build skills. Among those attendees are 30-40 reporters, who are looking for the next big research and clinical advances, the most intriguing new technology, and inspiring patient stories that drive home the impact of our work as scientists. Several reporters also cover the meeting remotely, from publications including the Washington Post and NPR.
Through their publications and networks, these reporters have a collective reach beyond that of the scientific community, which helps ASHG achieve its mission: that people everywhere realize the benefits of human genetics and genomics research. As the scientific program develops and the meeting’s leaders identify the year’s highest-impact abstracts for scientific attendees, the Program Committee and new Public Education & Awareness Committee (former Communications Committee) work in parallel to identify abstracts, symposia, and other events of most interest to reporters and their readers.
How it Works
A Press Planning Advisory Group, composed of PC and PEAC members, reviews each year’s abstracts to identify 8-10 to highlight to reporters, which together aim to represent the wide scope of science ASHG members do and convey why it matters. These include basic, translational, clinical, and ELSI research; studies conducted by a diverse swath of scientists in academia and industry; and research that connects to many aspects of the human experience.
Before and during the meeting, presenting authors of the selected abstracts – and many other experts – meet with reporters to answer questions and round out the information in press releases and abstracts. ASHG staff help facilitate these interviews and prepare scientists for their meetings with press. And as abstracts are presented, reporters publish their pieces and share the meeting’s most exciting findings with their audiences worldwide.
This year, to frame the meeting’s coverage and connect with locals in the Houston area, President Les Biesecker published an op-ed in the Houston Chronicle about the importance of biomedical research locally.
News Highlights from 2019
- An ‘unprecedented’ analysis underlines profound failure to study African genomes – Sharon Begley, STAT
- Genetic testing kits ‘may wrongly reassure those at risk of cancer’ – Hannah Devlin, The Guardian (UK)
- Massive project doubles list of genes tied to autism – Nicholette Zeliadt, Spectrum News
- Genomics has a diversity problem. Here’s how scientists are tackling it – Farah Qaiser, Massive Science
- Screening embryos for complex genetic traits called premature – Jocelyn Kaiser, Science