• 20th September 2023

As I return to Newcastle after attending this year’s ACGS Conference at the ICC in Birmingham, I’m reflecting on what a good meeting this was and the importance of being able to meet together as a community face-to-face. Thanks to all of you who attended, we had ~200 delegates on each of the two days and were treated to a range of talks and presentations including, importantly, a selection of excellent talks from our trainees.

Helene Schlect and Isabelle Delon, Chairs of our Science and Technology sub-committee, put together a diverse and engaging programme including speakers from Genomics England on the Newborn Genomes Programme which prompted considerable debate and relevant questions being submitted via the Slido platform as they talked; we have asked Amanda Pichini and Harriet Etheredge to share these – and their responses – so watch this space, we’ll endeavour to post these soon!

Kate Tatton-Brown, Head of the Genomics Programme at Health Education England presented an overview of the eagerly awaited Genomics Training Academy (GTAC) whilst our plenary this year was delivered by Joris Veltman, previously in Nijmegen and now at Newcastle University, where he continues to research and develop a de novo paradigm for sporadic genetic disease, presenting recent studies aimed at delineating the genetic basis of male infertility.

We are grateful too for the many trade stands and speakers, and sponsors, who enrich this event in many ways – and especially through their sponsorship of a networking drinks reception on the Monday evening. Thank you.

We would also like to thank Jon Day from Cerebrus digital for once again recording this year’s meetings to allow access to the presentations (where permission has been granted) for delegates and ACGS members. Similar to last year’s format, a link will be emailed to all delegates and sponsors of the meeting. This link will be valid for 3 months but after this date, the recordings will be available indefinitely via the Members area on the BSGM website. We are hoping to make the presentations available in the next couple of weeks.

To those who were able to attend, I hope you are also returning to your laboratories and offices encouraged that you are part of a bigger, connected community and find an opportunity to share with your local teams what you learnt at Conference. As a Society, we absolutely recognise the widening financial constraints being placed on laboratories and how this impacts attendance, so are thinking through some ways in which we may be able to support wider attendance. Can I encourage you all to think about whether you can either attend in person, or send greater laboratory representation to next year’s meeting, particularly those of you in leadership and senior roles – your influence, guidance, mentorship and voice remain important in continuing the tradition of these meetings as important forums of learning, debate and driving best practice and change – more so now than ever before.

In closing, I want to re-iterate my thanks to Helen Lord and Emma Ridgway for all their hard work in organising our time together and to all the members of the ACGS Executive whose activities we highlighted within our AGM. I also want to congratulate our three prize-winning trainees:

Best presentation: Lewis Pang (Exeter)

Best Lightning presentation: Chris Armitage (Liverpool)

Best poster: Helen Patrick (Sheffield)

Well done to you all!

We’ve yet to decide on a venue for next year but have always been looked after incredibly well by the ICC team, so could well be returning to Broad Street and Black Sabbath Bridge in 2024! And just to say that if you have suggestions for ways in which we can enrich the programme or have areas of particular scientific interest you want to see covered, we are always keen to hear of these. Please do get in touch if you are interested in supporting our Society activities by joining one of the sub-committees…. again, details of one or two vacancies where we will be looking for members to get involved will be advertised shortly.

With all best wishes,