Message from the President – Spring 2024

By Bruce D. Gelb, MD

ASHG 2024 President Bruce D. Gelb, MD
ASHG 2024 President, Bruce D. Gelb, MD

It is a huge honor to join the ranks of ASHG presidents as we look forward to the next three quarters of a century of the Society’s existence. The start of a new presidency is always a time of reflection, introspection, and resolution. By assessing what we have achieved, reviewing what we have experienced and understanding what challenges we overcame, we either confirm we are on the right path or make needed adjustments and identify new goals.

I remember as a pediatric cardiology fellow starting my research career and experiencing how valuable the Society was to its members, and how important it was to me to contribute in tiny ways that were still meaningful to keep our field vibrant and engaged. It is incredible how much ASHG has grown and expanded since that time, becoming a well-known and recognized resource for education and research on human genetics and for helping others to gain a new appreciation of humanity’s diversity and our shared genetic heritage as a single species.

As we gear up for the year ahead, I am filled with a sense of excitement and anticipation. Our Society is strong and there are many exciting developments to look forward to, including of course the one at the top of the list: the ASHG 2024 Annual Meeting. This year’s meeting will take place November 5-9, in Denver, CO. We also are actively working with our committees to roll out the Society’s new Strategic Plan, which provides a road map for ASHG to respond to evolving member needs and to focus efforts where we can best serve the field and society more broadly. Each committee will consider ways to ensure organizational strength and stability through a variety of ways; cultivate diversity, equity, and inclusion; advance policy and advocacy; and promote research excellence.

Additionally, this year, importantly, we have a new leader in place to see the Society through the years ahead. We are poised to move forward effectively with a new CEO who has the vision to be both a strategic thinker and an inspirational team leader. In Amanda Perl, we have someone who will work with ASHG’s Board of Directors to develop, and then execute on the aforementioned strategic plan that accounts for the changing nature of the field and who will ultimately be responsible for the Society’s staff management and business operations. Amanda is an innovative and thoughtful leader who will take ASHG forward.

Communicating Policy Priorities

Source: Colin Dewar/

We have seen in recent years that science is both creating miracles and losing trust. We emerged from the darkest days of the pandemic with both lifesaving discoveries and a crisis in credibility. Partially related to this issue but also related to the aging of legislative leaders in Congress on key committees who were strong advocates, budgetary support for NIH and the National Science Foundation (NSF) are at risk. When and if Congress passes a budget for the 2024 fiscal year, we are likely to experience an appropriation for NIH that is either flat or even a cut. Both of these developments are impacting the human genetics and genomics community in the U.S. deeply.

In order to gain the support of the public and policymakers for funding human genetics and genomics research through the NIH, we as experts in the field must convey the importance of enabling research progress and improving personal and public health. For some scientists, communicating that role can prove difficult. Sometimes, we struggle to explain and advocate for our work because we are unsure how to draw the connection for a lay audience between the scientific details and the big picture. ASHG can help with this.

ASHG is committed to supporting human genetics and genomics and helping others understand that it is the foundation for understanding patterns of health and disease in people, ultimately preventing, or mitigating devastating conditions. Members can access training and advocacy resources on through the Advocacy Center, the Society’s home for learning and discussion. They can also attend live training events at the annual meeting that teach us as scientists how to communicate our work to non-scientists. Additionally, by serving as an advocate, researchers can add their voices and participate in advocacy efforts alongside the Society’s Government and Public Advocacy Committee (GPAC). I encourage you to participate in any way that you can.

Although the work of human geneticists often remains behind the scenes, this research is absolutely critical to scientific progress and the development of new treatments that will save and improve the lives of people with debilitating diseases and disorders. Therefore, we must continue to advocate for robust investment in research as an essential part of ensuring medical progress for future generations.

The Importance of Members

We cannot do this work without you. Your commitment to membership is essential to ASHG and substantially contributes to our ongoing success and influence on the human genetics and genomics field.

As we have become a larger and greater society, we also have expanded our engagement of members in the volunteer work that is the foundation upon which we thrive. Helping our members develop leadership skills, both within our Society and for their home institutions, will be rewarding for them as well as improve the future of ASHG. We are planning programs to enhance these skills, tapping on the experience of our current and past leaders, related societies as well as our industry partners.

As you think about the coming year, I encourage you to explore how your ASHG membership can support your personal or professional interest. The possibilities are endless. Here are just a few suggestions to spark your thinking:

Whatever you resolve to do, I sincerely hope you savor the journey of discovery and experience and the joy of acquiring new knowledge. ASHG can help you to achieve your goals and serve as your partner throughout your career.

I look forward to working for and learning from all of you. Thank you for the privilege and opportunity to serve as your president.

Bruce D. Gelb, MD

President, ASHG

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