Microbiology Insider

Dear Microbiology Insider,

'Tis the season of academic conferences, and has you covered with the latest news from the fall slate of meetings.

While the American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC) and College of American Pathologists (CAP) kept their annual meetings in a hybrid format, Infectious Disease Week (IDWeek) 2021 went all-virtual for the second year in a row in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

This edition of the Microbiology Insider includes a series of talks from IDWeek 2021 given by clinicians on the headway made in standardizing polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays in fungal molecular diagnostics. Fungal pathogens are an increasing problem, which means making progress in diagnostic testing is more important than ever.

This year's AACC plenaries hit on big themes that touch on all aspects of science and society. In his plenary address, Holden Thorp, PhD, editor in chief of the Science family of journals, said that scientists deserve an "A" grade for addressing the COVID-19 pandemic but an "F" on communicating their message. Thorp addressed how he and his colleagues at Science responded to the deluge of COVID-19-related submissions to the journal and the role of preprints of scientific papers.

It may have once seemed unlikely, but unmanned aerial vehicles are slowly being incorporated into the clinical laboratory, explained Dr. Timothy Amukele, PhD, at an AACC session on new technologies to improve the clinical laboratory. During the pandemic, drones were even deployed to transport COVID-19 tests.

And at the annual CAP conference, Dr. Emily Volk, CAP president, praised the forensic pathologists running autopsies during the early days of the pandemic, likening them to firefighters who run into burning buildings. Volk and other pathologists spoke about the questions, issues, and fears they have contended with during the pandemic.

In nonconference news, a sobering report from the Lancet journal showed that half of the world lacks access to diagnostics. The authors estimated that 1.1 million premature deaths that occur annually in low- and middle-income countries could be prevented by decreasing the diagnostic gap for six priority conditions.

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