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Students Expand Expertise in Medical Diagnostics at AACC Conference

Capitalizing on a thrilling professional development opportunity, 22 Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) students attended the American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC) Emerging Clinical and Laboratory Diagnostics conference in San Diego on Nov. 9 and Nov. 10.

KGI Arnold and Mabel Beckman Professor Angelika Niemz is one of five members on the conference’s organization committee. Through the generosity of Chairman Vincent Ricchuiti and the entire committee, the KGI students earned the incredible opportunity to participate in the sessions, ask questions, and offer their developing expertise in the lively discussions at the poster session.

“The conference expanded not only what we as the next generation of innovators can do,” said Charlene Gantan, MBS ’19, “but also assured us that we are capable of engineering diagnostics that can address key challenges in critical areas of treatment.”

After gaining a wide range of practical takeaways at the conference in San Diego, the students were then able to apply them the following week when they returned to Niemz’s ALS 320 medical diagnostics class.

“The AACC conference organizers were impressed with our students and loved the energy that they brought to the event,” Niemz said. “The conference attracts senior-level biotech leaders, so this was a great way for them to meet the industry’s future innovators from KGI.”

The lessons learned in San Diego extend well beyond the classroom. They will be applicable in the career pathways that KGI students choose in bioscience or healthcare.

“Clinical and laboratory diagnostics are one of the major subsets of the healthcare and life science industries, and the field is growing in a rapid and exciting way with the advancements in areas like microfluidics, genomics, processing power, and sequencing,” said Eric Benjamins, MBS ‘19. “As someone pursuing business, it is critical for me to stay up-to-date with advancements across the industry to contextualize any projects of which I am a part.”

The large group of students represented six of KGI’s programs, including Master of Business and ScienceMaster of Engineering in Biopharmaceutical ProcessingMaster of SciencePharmDPhD in Applied Life Sciences, and Postbac Premedical Certificate.

Niemz served as the moderator for the conference’s first session, which was titled “Advances in Next Generation Sequencing for Clinical Diagnostics.”