AMP's Expanding Audience
The AMP 2012 Annual Meeting on Genomic Medicine officially kicked off this morning with opening remarks from AMP President Iris Schrijver, MD, and Program Chair Dan Farkas, PhD, HCLD, and the presentation of the AMP Award for Excellence in Molecular Diagnostics to James Downing, MD, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
This year, the largest annual meeting to date, the conference is dedicated to Dr. James Kant, the first AMP president. Dr. Kant died in September, but his legacy lives on through the association and the many members he has mentored. Dr. Schrijver, in her opening remarks, called him a "trusted colleague, friend, mentor and one of the most generous people I've ever had the pleasure to meet."
New this year is the "On Genomic Medicine" addition to the conference title, to "more accurately reflect the ways in which the field is evolving," remarked Dr. Farkas. Because personalized medicine, companion diagnostics, genomics are all outgrowths of advances in molecular pathology, this change seems natural.
And the program topics reflect that growth, as well. Sessions on next-generation sequencing abound, as they have in previous years, but this year, Executive Director Mary Steele Williams said, the focus is evolving from the basics about next-gen sequencing, to talking about actual results in utilizing the technology in the management of patients.
In his Award Lecture, Downing discussed the St. Jude Pediatric Cancer Genome Project and lessons learned about pediatric cancers from their efforts in DNA sequence analysis, Downing noted that this approach to research is the future of medicine, "and it cannot be done without the people in this room." A wide range of mutations must be considered: point mutations, insertions/deletions, inversions, chromosomal rearrangements, amplifications, epigenetic changes, genomic polymorphisms. "We have to be able to detect all of these mutations," Downing said. "We've used a variety of approaches as new methodologies come out to try to answer these questions - it's still not perfect." What we really need to know, he noted, is "which alterations are drivers and which are passengers. Lots of mutations have nothing to do with the biology, they're just passive genes that have been mutated."
After the rousing morning session, the exhibit hall opened at 11:30 a.m. Stay tuned for product information and new releases as ADVANCE coverage of AMP 2012 continues.