Friday, November 14, 2014

The history of the AMP Informatics subdivision

There is a multi year history behind the evolution of the informatics subdivision at AMP.  The road to subdivision status was started by others who deserve the credit.

Andrea Ferreira-Gonzalez, PhD, was the first to launch an early morning session for the AMP informatics interest group in the early 2000s.  At that time, which was pre-NGS explosion, the interest level in informatics was still maturing.  Through the efforts of Mary Williams (executive director of AMP) and with underlying support from Jeffrey A. Kant, MD, PhD (first president of the Association of Molecular Pathology), several years later, in 2011, AMP organized a working session for several AMP members with dual expertise in informatics and molecular/genomic pathology to determine a path forward for AMP in this area as the rise of NGS and bioinformatics pipelines began to exceed all expectations.  Members of that group included Jill Hagenkord, MD, Federico Monzon, MD, Roy Lee, MD, Rama Gullipalli, MD, PhD and myself.

Still trying to wrap our heads around informatics and next generation sequencing, the strategic plan for informatics continued to brew until 2013, just before the annual meeting, when I was informed that the leadership at AMP believes they had critical mass to form an interest group and hopefully soon a new subdivision. With the seemingly tireless help of Elaine Lyon, PhD (newly elected president of AMP), Nirali Patel, MD (chair of membership affairs committee), Loren Joseph, MD and the AMP Clinical Practice Committee as well as multiple AMP staff including Mel Limson, Robyn Temple-Smolkin, PhD, Catherine Davidge, Mary Williams and Kathleen Carmody, the current iteration of the AMP Informatics Interest Group was born. Messages were sent to the entire AMP community to encourage members to declare their interest in informatics at an informal meeting for informatics phenotypes at the 2013 annual meeting.

Over 60 people attended that initial informal meeting which took place in a hallway of the convention center on November 13, 2013. Several months later, bi monthly conference calls for the informatics interest group began, and the enthusiasm of the group was clear. The program committee gave the interest group a breakout session at the 2014 annual meeting, and the group submitted a number of excellent abstracts from which four presentations were selected.

In October 2014, a message was sent to the AMP membership asking them to declare an interest in informatics if one existed. Well over 10% of the membership declared an interest, and on Tuesday, November 11, 2014, the AMP governing board overwhelmingly voted to promote the informatics interest group into full subdivision status.

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