In the dynamic city of Washington, DC, the American Society of Human Genetics welcomed thousands of members, exhibitors, and genomics enthusiasts from across the world for its premier Annual Meeting. This year was exceptionally special as ASHG celebrated its 75th organizational anniversary.
As we came together in the nation’s capital, the Annual Meeting highlighted a vibrant array of diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout the scientific programming and featured events. Two hallmarks of the ASHG 2023 Annual Meeting were the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Luncheon and DEI Reception.
Neil Hanchard, MBBS, DPhil, Chair of the ASHG DEI Task Force, opened the luncheon with remarks about the importance of creating a meaningful discussion of the promise and potential of human genetics and genomics research to benefit all. ASHG President, Brendan Lee, MD, PhD then introduced the event’s keynote speaker, trailblazing leader and scientist Gary H. Gibbons MD.
Dr. Gibbons, who is the Director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health, awed and inspired the audience by describing his professional and ‘purposeful’ journey from childhood to present. He explained the imperative of catalyzing discovery science to advance health for all people. His presentation illustrated the enduring value of patient and community engagement and of translating evidence-based interventions into opportunities for implementation on a global scale.
Many attendees were moved at the challenges and burdens experienced by individuals who live with sickle cell disease and the latest breakthroughs for curative therapies. Two panelists, Athena Davenport, PhD and Paola Giusti Rodriguez, PhD, both inaugural Human Genetics Scholars, contributed to the rich dialogue by sharing their perspectives and expertise as early- to mid-career researchers. All DEI Luncheon speakers were engaging and provided a forum to explore a world where people everywhere realize the benefits of human genetics and genomics research.
In its second year at the ASHG Annual Meeting, the DEI Reception was a huge success, offering the space and opportunity to network, acknowledge invaluable partnerships, and celebrate awardees and scholars of the Resource-Limited Country Travel Awards and the Human Genetics Scholars Initiative.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion have continued to grow and evolve at the Annual Meeting. From poster presentations to invited sessions, there was a plethora of content that covered topics including health equity, insights into ethnically diverse cohorts, and more. These inclusive values even extended to major platform sessions, as demonstrated in the Presidential Symposium titled “Delivering on the Promise and Future of Genetic and Genomic Medicine, Not a Sisyphean Task” and the Distinguished Speakers Symposium, titled “The Future of Human Genetics and Genomics.”
Much appreciation goes to the volunteer leaders of the ASHG DEI Task Force, Board of Directors, and staff. Also, continued gratitude for the vital support of key partners and sponsors; the National Human Genome Research Institute, H3Africa, Illumina, Biogen, GSK, Merck, and Roche.