AACR Annual Meeting 2023: Five Things You Need to Know

The AACR Annual Meeting 2023 kicks off Friday, April 14, with thousands of cancer researchers from around the world ready to share the latest advances in cancer science. Clinicians, patient advocates, policymakers, industry representatives, and students will also be in attendance, lending their voices and passions to the keynote event of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). 

As you’re packing your suitcase, reviewing the program agenda, or proofreading your poster, here are a few highlights of this year’s meeting. We look forward to seeing you there!    

1. This year’s theme is “Advancing the Frontiers of Cancer Science and Medicine.” What are some key program highlights that exemplify this theme?  

According to Program Committee Chair Robert H. Vonderheide, MD, DPhil, the word “frontier” was an intentional choice that focuses AACR Annual Meeting 2023 on future progress against cancer.  

“That is really where modern cancer research is,” Vonderheide told the AACR Annual Meeting News. “We’re on the frontier, and it also gives us the mandate to think toward the future. Where are we going? How can we use our science and research to improve the lives of patients with cancer even more? It’s an incredibly exciting time.” 

Annual Meeting 2023 will take place over six days. Presentations are organized into 24 topic tracks ranging from bioinformatics and global health to prevention and early detection. This year’s meeting features six plenary sessions, four clinical trial plenary sessions, and 42 major symposia, among others. The poster hall will be home to hundreds of presentations prepared by attendees ranging from high schoolers to senior researchers.  

The scope of the program encompasses virtually every aspect of leading-edge cancer science, said AACR President Lisa M. Coussens, PhD, FAACR. 

“We’ve learned that the state of cancer has finally come to a very important inflection point where everything comes together, from chemistry, physiology, and immunology to bioengineering, molecular biology, and drug discovery,” said Coussens, deputy director for Basic & Translational Research, Knight Cancer Institute, Oregon Health & Science University. Coussens has organized a Presidential Select Symposium on pregnancy and cancer.  

Following the recent release of the National Cancer Plan, Monica Bertagnolli, MD, director of the National Cancer Institute, will discuss highlights during a Fireside Chat with Coussens. In addition, patient advocates will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of the AACR’s renowned Scientist↔Survivor Program, providing important patient perspectives.  

Vonderheide, director of the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania, encouraged the many students and early-career scientists who will attend the meeting to play an active role.

“You’re our colleague,” he said in a recent interview. “We’ll look for you to share your thoughts and have a seat at the table. It’s as much your meeting as anyone else’s; maybe more so. We’re counting on you for the next discoveries and breakthroughs.” To hear more from Vonderheide, see his interview with AACR Stories.  

2. I’ll be attending the meeting in person this year. Will I still be able to watch sessions online at a later date?  

Yes! With a scientific program as extensive and robust as this, it’s impossible to attend every session that catches one’s interest. Thankfully, the AACR’s virtual meeting platform allows registered attendees to view sessions online shortly after they take place in person. Sessions remain available for viewing for three months after the meeting.  

The scientific sessions, including the Educational Program (available to those who purchase the Educational Program Pass), will be livestreamed to the virtual meeting platform, and in-person and virtual attendees are encouraged to submit questions to the speakers using the platform or the meeting app.  

The technological advances brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic have also made it possible to offer virtual attendance for those who cannot travel to Orlando.  

“While we feel strongly that collaboration and networking are important, we know that it’s not possible for everyone to join us in person,” said Lisa Haubein, PhD, AACR Senior Director, Scientific Programs. “We want to make our content available worldwide and give as many researchers the opportunity to access it as possible.” 

3. How can I use technology and social media to make the most of my meeting experience and stay on top of meeting news? 

The AACR Annual Meeting app is an easy way to plan your schedule during the meeting. Links to download the app for Apple or Android devices or web-enabled smartphones and tablets are available here

The app functions with or without a network connection. Registered users can search, browse, and select sessions to create a personal itinerary for the meeting. Or, you can import your itinerary from the Online Program Planner. Users can access the full text of more than 6,000 abstracts.  

Once downloaded, registered attendees can log into the app and online planner using your 7-digit Registration ID number (found in confirmation emails and on your badges) and last name. 

Social media allows attendees to connect with colleagues, comment on scientific sessions, and keep tabs on sessions you can’t get to in person. If you’re using Twitter to connect or share information, please use the hashtag #AACR23. In addition to Twitter, you can follow the AACR on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram

An important reminder: Conference attendees may share information from presentations on social media provided that they respect the wishes of presenters. If an oral presenter or a poster presenter has labeled content “DO NOT POST,” attendees must respect the presenters’ requests and refrain from posting any images from these designated slides or posters on social media. 

For the third year, the AACR Annual Meeting News will serve as the official news source of the Annual Meeting. The first edition was published March 23 and shared with all registered attendees. There will be another premeeting edition, a daily edition between April 14-19, and three post-meeting editions to bring you exciting advances and news from the meeting. 

The Cancer Research Catalyst blog will feature daily stories throughout the course of the meeting, followed by in-depth scientific coverage in the days and weeks following the meeting. You can subscribe to the blog to make sure you never miss a post. The newsroom section of the AACR website houses press releases on the latest scientific studies and meeting highlights such as scientific awards.  

4. How can I best connect with potential future employers? Are networking opportunities available? 

Whether you’re wrapping up postdoctoral studies or looking for a new challenge later in your career, there are many ways to seek out professional opportunities.  

On Saturday, April 15, the AACR will host the Cancer and Biomedical Research Career Fair in Lobby C of the Orange County Convention Center from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Representatives from health care and research organizations, academic institutions, and the pharmaceutical industry will be present.  

Prior to the meeting, job seekers can create an account on CancerCareers.org, a career development resource powered by the AACR that includes a wide range of job listings. At the meeting, a CV and resume are welcome.  

Outside the Career Fair hours, there will be a CancerCareers Hub operating for three to four hours per day April 16-18. More information will be available shortly before the meeting.  

Beyond searching for jobs, there’s a strong Professional Advancement track at the Annual Meeting. A collaborative effort each year by the AACR Science Education and Career Advancement Committee, Minorities in Cancer Research (MICR) Council, Women in Cancer Research (WICR) Council, Associate Member Council (AMC), and the AACR Publications Committee, these sessions provide interactive and engaging professional development and career advancement opportunities to investigators at all levels. This year’s program will encompass useful topics like grant writing, peer review, mentorship, and women in science.  

5. What other amenities can help me make the most of the Annual Meeting experience?  

The AACR provides terrific resources to keep attendees healthy and happy while attending the meeting. First, for those traveling with children, there will be a child care center—fully subsidized by the AACR—in Room W110A in the Convention Center. There are also nursing facilities onsite.  

Secondly, our COVID-19 policy outlines measures you can take to help maintain good health. Before traveling, please make sure your vaccinations are up to date, and do not attend the meeting if you are ill. Now is a great time to familiarize yourself with COVID guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

While the Annual Meeting is exciting and action-packed, we know that some attendees may need a little down time. This year, we’re thrilled to offer access to a massage therapist who will provide chair massages or hand massages. Finally, making their Annual Meeting debut, therapy dogs will be visiting the Wellness Lounge, Exhibit Hall, Booth #3379 in West Hall D.