“One Humanity, Many Genomes™”: Celebrating 75 Years of ASHG and More to Come

The year 2023 marks many exciting occasions and opportunities to come for ASHG and our community, from a meeting that will be held in our nation’s capital, Washington, DC, to new digital content including Journal Clubs, opening of award nominations, and committee opportunities. What makes this year particularly significant is the celebration of the Society’s 75th anniversary. In the year 1948, over seven decades ago, ASHG was established to lead research, education, and service in human genetics. Today, there is much to celebrate from the last three quarters of a century in the field of human genetics and genomics. There is also much to come in the next 25 years in emerging researchers and discoveries, and our continued commitment to fulfill ASHG’s vision that people everywhere realize the benefits of genetics and genomics research. Through a series of celebratory events and activities, ASHG is inviting its members to both recognize all that they have achieved together over the last three quarters of a century and look forward to the opportunities that lie ahead.

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A yearlong celebration of scientific progress and the Society’s evolution has been reviewed by the ASHG Board and will honor achievements, celebrate major scientific progress and milestones, and look ahead to the next 25 years of progress in human genetics with excitement. Celebrations will include a public communication component led by the ASHG Public Education and Awareness Committee’s (PEAC) Discover Genetics Working Group, chaired by Kenneth Ramos, MD, PhD, a scientific component of high-profile achievements in the history of the Society led by the AJHG Editorial Board, and a member perspective component on what our community looks forward to in the years to come.

Special Adaption of the ASHG Logo

In a visual representation of this important milestone, a new ASHG logo will be unveiled for the year 2023 beginning in January. This will be visible in all venues for the year as we build up to celebrating as one in Washington, DC.

Past Achievements and Impactful Figures from all Backgrounds

Through the year, there will be content housed as part of the Discover Genetics microsite as it will live as evergreen material to be used as a resource for public audiences. This content will be used to engage audiences through social media outreach and other dissemination. In order to celebrate the major events and technological advances of the field, as well as what’s on the horizon, a timeline will be created by the AJHG Editorial Board to map out important events and people in genetics and genomics over the past 75 years and anticipated progress for the next decade. Additional emphasis will be put on future progress with solicitations from the ASHG community to share their thoughts on what they are most excited about or expect for the coming decade.

A History of ASHG

It is important to look to all facets of history, both the periods that call for celebration and the periods that call for reckoning. In the effort to acknowledge a wide range of components from ASHG’s last 75 years, the history page on ASHG’s website will contain president bio sketches published in AJHG over many years that were developed by past AJHG Editor-in-Chief/Former ASHG President David Nelson, PhD.  Importantly, the Society also anticipates integrating findings of the Facing Our History – Building an Equitable Future Initiative, which is reckoning with past harms and progress made toward greater diversity, equity, and inclusion during our history.  Following intensive work by an Expert Panel throughout 2022 and a community dialogue held in September, a report of the initiative’s findings is expected early in 2023. This reflection offers the Society and our community the chance to meaningfully review and integrate troubling findings of our earliest roots alongside our shared work to build the equitable future the Society envisions.

Celebrating our One Shared Humanity

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Source: Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock.com

Similarly important to celebrating among our fellow researchers is extending the celebration to incorporate the next generation of human geneticists and broader community. A member and public “campaign to celebrate diversity” (a stated Board objective from the 2019 strategic plan) titled “One Humanity, Many Genomes™” will be guided by PEAC with several year-round activities.  It will also serve as a central theme during the annual meeting in Washington, DC, which is a unique place to build genomics and diversity awareness. This campaign theme will be featured in a short video that will feature interviews with ASHG members at all levels, in public advertising around the city of Washington, DC, and interactive signage and events at the 2023 Annual Meeting. It also serves as the inspiration for the 2023 DNA Day question and students will be encouraged to participate by not only the $1,000 prize but also the chance to be filmed for a special video highlighting their essay and 75 years of genetics and genomics research. Finally, a media relations plan will be pivotal to connecting with broader audiences.

As the members of ASHG celebrate this milestone with these activities, events, and more, it is an opportunity to honor the achievements of their Society, reflect on how far the broad field has come, and to look ahead to the next 25 years of progress in human genetics with excitement.

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