A Year of Celebrations: ASHG’s 75th Anniversary

As the year 2023 comes to an end, an opportunity is presented to reflect on the celebration of 75 years of the Society. Festivities began back in April when winners of the 2023 DNA Day Essay Contest were announced. This time of year is an appropriate acknowledgement that a new generation is eager and ready to move the field forward and continue the hard work of the last seven and a half decades. Continuing through the year, members’ work, motivations, and ambitions were shared in written and video format. The culmination was on full display at the ASHG 2023 Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, with posters and videos playing around the convention center, and of course the 75th Anniversary Gala Reception. After years of online meetings during the global pandemic, a testament to the technological progress of the Society, the community gathered to connect, share the latest groundbreaking science, and celebrate.

A Night to Remember: The ASHG Gala Reception

It was a night to remember and a night to celebrate 75 years of advancements in genetic and genomic research. Hundreds of members of the ASHG community gathered at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in downtown Washington, DC to mingle, eat, and dance to live music from the band Ethidium Spill featuring ASHG members Francis Collins, Anthony Antonellis, and Elliott Marguilies. Upon arrival, gala-goers descended the long escalators to an expansive room filled with laughter, food, and animated discussions. While the ASHG annual meeting is a time to gather and share the latest science and technology, much of the field’s progress would not be possible without the connections made among colleagues. The Gala Reception was an opportunity to have reunions years in the making, and also to forge new relationships through personal networks or even while dancing! After 75 years, those moving the field forward were able to raise a glass to themselves, their colleagues, and their future progress.

Recognition of all Members

There were a number of opportunities to celebrate the community and science in video, written, and even interactive formats. ASHG President Brendan Lee, MD, PhD, delivered his Presidential Address with an introductory video that marks the anniversary theme, “One Humanity, Many Genomes™.” This theme was created to acknowledge and celebrate that we are more similar than we are different. In Dr. Lee’s address, aptly titled “Reflecting on our 75 years: Acknowledging our past, embracing our present, and dreaming about our future,” leaders in the field shared their reflections on 75 years of ASHG and what this milestone means to them, their careers, and the broader community. Similarly in written form, seven posters with perspectives from members of varying career stages, locations in the world, and areas of study were presented around the Convention Center. Each board profiled their motivations and passions that contribute to their respective work. Like the myriad of unique DNA combinations in humans, these profiles represented the myriad of backgrounds and contributions of our members. Finally, attendees had a chance to mark their time in Washington, DC by taking a selfie at the 75th anniversary selfie station and obtaining a special commemorative t-shirt from ASHG’s booth in the Exhibit & Poster Hall.

Including the Broader Community and Next Generation

the top milestones webpage Part of the fun of reflecting on 75 years of great science is looking to the future possibilities set in motion by the past accomplishments. Earlier in the year, members of the American Journal of Human Genetics editorial board identified top milestones from the last 75 years and forward-looking advances that they are excited to see in the coming decades. This content was shared through the year as a resource for both researchers and for the public looking to learn more about where we have been as a Society and where we are going. Teachers used these resources to guide their lessons and show the incredible progress in human genetics. And students used these milestones and advancements to imagine what they could be part of moving forward if they pursued a career in human genetics and genomics. Both items available on ASHG’s Discover Genetics brought together the current and future members of ASHG in imagining a future that benefits all people.

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