By ASHG President Charles Rotimi, PhD
During these challenging times the one thing that has remained true is the importance of our connection as human beings. Forming connections has always been at the heart of ASHG from its inception. Joining the Society was an avenue that provided an ability to showcase my work and to meet people. As a young investigator, I was able to listen and see how others did their research. More importantly, I could see where people were coming from, and I could learn about the new things people were doing in genomics. Connecting and collaborating has been critical throughout my career. It has given me a deep sense of how important the Society is for our members around the world and has vividly reminded me of how important it was for me when I was launching my career.
In 2022, we don’t just need to connect – we need to reconnect. Reconnecting can be an act of giving and a gesture of generosity. It allows us to feel that we matter, that we are valued and appreciated. On days when we have had a positive impact on others at work, we feel more competent and bring more energy home. Even small acts of connection with others can be antidotes to isolation.
Creating opportunities for collaboration is at the heart of ASHG’s mission — and is among the most powerful roles the Society plays and I am excited we will begin to do so in person and maintain our new virtual connection platforms, too. Among upcoming opportunities most ripe for new collaborations is ASHG 2022, the most comprehensive event in our field. This year, we’ll welcome attendees back in-person to Los Angeles, providing an important avenue for researchers to share and discuss research findings, to exchange ideas and insights, and to network for collaboration and career development. All while we optimize for a safe environment by paying close attention to developments on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Reconnecting speaks to the fact that we are humans. Virtual Zoom events, webinars and trainings have allowed us to continue our research and keep in touch but coming together remains a human characteristic. When you do it, you feel it and there is no substitute. Being physically with others makes a huge difference and there is something about hearing a person talk on stage that is meaningful. Creating opportunities for connections is critical as people have lost out over the last two years. Mentoring in this field is a very important activity as we continue to train throughout our careers. Creating opportunities for others to see what is possible remains important.
As we look toward another year of transition to a new post-pandemic world, however, we must continue to remind ourselves that ASHG serves as a foundation for the genetics and genomics community. It has something to offer to every geneticist at every stage of their careers and there is important work happening to increase the diversity and inclusion in our Society and the many endeavors it supports. ASHG continues to provide a platform for organizing the hundreds of volunteers that give their valuable time and expertise each year to make all this happen. When I consider this wonderful collaborative effort and all that is transpiring currently to create new opportunities for others, I feel positive about the future and what will come.
There’s no better time than now to get in touch and reconnect with your fellow geneticists. If you’re considering how to do this, look no further than ASHG for an opening. There are countless ways to get involved from submitting an abstract by early June to be reviewed as part of the ASHG 2022 scientific program, attending the Society’s digital programs and webinars, engaging in ASHG Connect, volunteering to serve as a judge for the DNA Essay Contest, serving as an ASHG advocate, communicating the value of genetics research to the public, and planning to attend ASHG 2022. ASHG will continue to thrive and adapt during these uncertain times as long as its members continue to connect with each other and support their community year-round.