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ASM Microbe 2023 Recap

I had the distinct pleasure of accompanying our Chief Growth Officer Lisa Potter to the 2023 ASM Microbe conference in Houston this past week. Heat advisories aside, after the past 2 years of cancelled and virtualized conferences (and generally not traveling) I welcome the facetime and one-on-one engagement back with open arms, and ASM delivered with a model that highlights how science and business can come together effectively.

For those unaware, ASM stands for the American Society for Microbiology. Unlike many “conferences” dominated by vendors selling their wares, ASM Microbe is unique in that over half of the exhibit space is dedicated to poster display and clinical research presentations (both presented individually and with vendor partners). A major theme of this year’s presentations showcased amazing science tied to AI’s potential in microbiology, and automated workflows to benefit the clinical laboratory space and their patients.

Now for general laboratorians, this kind of thing may be considered “old hat” in the world of automation lines and minimized staffing models, but for the microbiology space these technologies are ground-breaking and poignant given struggles with the last two-plus year battle with viral and microbial agents in our world. For example, rather than waiting days for bacterial cultures to grow and indicate possible infection, new technologies and computer models enable this kind of observance and diagnosis in hours, greatly reducing a microbe’s chance of harming a patient. These also have a downstream effect of producing effective models for treatment that minimizes use and increases relative effectiveness of today’s antibiotics. In short, microbiology is pushing clinical science closer to proactive and prescriptive medicine in a way many never thought possible, and away from the reactive models of old.

Lisa and I also visited several current and potential partners and clients during the event. Thermo Fisher Scientific highlighted new instrumentation like the Clever Culture Systems APAS™ automated plate reader, where COPAN Diagnositics highlighted the powerful pairing and accuracy of Microbiology AI and Digital Microbiology with their PhenoMATRIX® solution. Others like BD and bioMérieux showcased new analyzers and vendor-agnostic middleware to support broader ROI and flexibility for testing management. As labs were also front and center, teams like National Jewish Health’s Advanced Diagnostic Laboratory and the University of Maryland Institute for Genomic Sciences highlighted their own esoteric testing capabilities to support testing needs large and small.

Overall, the conference was a success and only served to highlight the need for collaboration and quality in the lab and lab IT arenas. While consistent themes of progress abound, old ones like lack of resources were still ever-present. It gives me pride that as a team, JTG can help make the lab and lab IT space more efficient, effective, and can help medical laboratory professionals and pathologists serve their patients to a higher degree!

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