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AACR Meetings In Person: Irreplaceable Impact

Participating at the biggest cancer meeting in the world from the comforts of your lab desk or your home has its perks. Yet, the 2022 AACR Annual Meeting proved that meeting colleagues face to face or hearing impactful talks in person infuses special energy that a virtual platform cannot transmit. One benefit and requirement for new AACR research grant recipients is attendance at the AACR Annual Meeting at least once during the grant term. A number of recent AACR grant recipients shared their experiences at the first in-person AACR Annual Meeting in two years.

Francisco Cartujano, MD

The 2022 AACR Annual Meeting was the first for Assistant Professor and 2021 AACR-Genentech Cancer Disparities Research Fellow Francisco Cartujano, MD. As a health disparities researcher, he enjoyed the sessions about health equity (e.g., Addressing Disparities in Cervical Cancer: A Tale of Two Strategies and Applying an Equity Lens to Implementation Research: A Pathway to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities). He also found the meet-the-expert activities around health equity very informative. He shared: “it is commendable that the AACR Annual Meeting 2022 had spaces to increase awareness of the progress in understanding and addressing disparities across the cancer care continuum and to emphasize the vital importance of cancer health disparities research in saving lives.”

Amanda Lund, PhD

Associate Professor and 2022 AACR-Bristol Myers Squibb Midcareer Female Investigator Grant Recipient Amanda Lund, PhD, lauds the breadth of science covered at the meeting: from preclinical to translational/clinical. In addition to the great science, however, as a Principal Investigator committed to collaboration and career development of the next generation, she added that the “Annual Meeting was a great opportunity to interact with potential postdoc and junior faculty candidates.” Thus, she found that the abstract minisymposia was the most dynamic part of the meeting.

Avery D. Posey, Jr., PhD

With her personal experience of attending the AACR Annual Meeting virtually in 2020, she highlighted that the in-person format provided “opportunities to engage trainees more directly through minisymposia and poster sessions. In addition, it gave trainees the opportunity to present their cutting-edge work, and to network and increase visibility with colleagues across fields. These are critical interactions largely lost with virtual meetings.” Early-career investigator and 2021 Lustgarten Foundation-AACR Pancreatic Cancer Career Development Award, In Honor of John Robert Lewis, recipient Avery D. Posey, Jr., PhD also cited the personal interactions as the most important benefits of the in-person meeting. He shared: “I had the opportunity to meet some renowned scientists for the first time, update and strategize with international colleagues, and interact with journal editors as well as NIH program officers and scientific review officers.”

Roger Olofsson Bagge, MD

The AACR Grants program recognizes new grantees at a Grants Reception and Dinner held during the AACR Annual Meeting, which has proven to be a great venue for forging new collaborations. Roger Olofsson Bagge, MD, Associate Professor and recipient of the 2021 AACR-Ocular Melanoma Foundation Career Development Award, in Honor of Robert C. Allen, MD, found that one of the most beneficial activities at the AACR Annual Meeting was the networking opportunity during the Grants Reception. In addition to the poster sessions, the Grants Reception gave him the opportunity to make new contacts.   

This feedback from the AACR grantees reinforces the benefits of in-person meetings, which were put on hold during the COVID pandemic. To those who joined us at the 2022 AACR Annual Meeting, whether in person or virtually, we encourage you to continue to take advantage of the great science that was presented. Session recordings and e-posters remain accessible until July 13, 2022. We hope you are convinced that there is more to the Annual Meeting than hearing about the latest science and that we will be seeing you in Orlando at the AACR Annual Meeting 2023!