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Annual Report 2020 – 2021

Despite a global pandemic that has challenged all of us and our research community in profound ways, the ASHG community continues to be resilient and highly impactful. It has been extraordinary to reflect on this community’s achievements this year – not only providing the foundational technology and knowledge that has enabled us to tackle COVID-19 with unmatched scientific speed, but also continuing to bring forward countless new advances in all fields of biomedical research.

Gail P. Jarvik, MD, PhD

ASHG works to build a vibrant and collaborative community of human genetics and genomics professionals in research, medicine, and education from across the world.
"I have enjoyed being a member of ASHG for many years. We are all part of the same ecosystem, ultimately serving patients, and working together cross-functionally enables us to reach goals of health, access, affordability, and advancing science faster."

– Carrie Haverty, MS, CGC

ASHG 2020 Membership Snapshot
The ASHG Annual Meeting is the largest human genetics and genomics meeting and exposition in the world. Held in October, it provides a forum for the presentation and discussion of cutting-edge genetics and genomics research.

ASHG’s First Ever Virtual Meeting

ASHG’s 70th annual meeting and first ever virtual meeting attracted thousands of human genetics and genomics professionals to discuss the latest research, unveil new technologies and tools, and spark collaborations that advance research and medical discoveries.

Thank you, Platinum Sponsors

Thanks to the following organizations for their lead sponsorship of the 2020 Virtual Meeting:

  • Illumina
  • Qiagen
  • ThermoFisher Scientific
Through the Society's journals and other publications, ASHG members share the latest scientific breakthroughs and perspectives on important issues with the research community.

THE AMERICAN JOURNAL OF HUMAN GENETICS

Known for its scientific excellence and rigor, The American Journal of Human Genetics (AJHG) is one of the leading journals in the field of genetics and genomics. Since 1948, AJHG has published thousands of research and review articles on human heredity and the application of genetic principles in medicine and public policy.

HUMAN GENETICS AND GENOMIC ADVANCES

ASHG’s new fully open access journal Human Genetics and Genomics (HGG) Advances allows for the rapid dissemination of cutting-edge, high-impact research across the breadth of human genetics that is immediately accessible to researchers and the science-interested public.

Since 1962, ASHG has honored outstanding member research and professional service through our annual awards.
ASHG offers year-round online access to professional education and career development programs for genetics and genomics professionals across all career stages and interests.

ASHG LEARNING

This past year ASHG served over 5,000 genetics and genomics professionals from across the globe with online professional education through monthly webinars, online journal clubs, interactive workshops, and a new podcast series. This extensive growth of our online educational programming was made possible with generous funding received from a two-year grant from the Illumina Corporate Foundation.

Webinars & Workshops

ASHG organized 27 webinars and workshops this past year with topic areas ranging from scientific research and career development to public engagement and advocacy.

Genetically Speaking Podcast Series

During its first season, ASHG’s Genetically Speaking podcast showcased Society members of various career stages discussing their professional paths and providing insight and reflection on careers in genetics.

VIRTUAL CAREER DEVELOPMENT DAY

The Society hosted a Virtual Career Development Day prior to the 2020 Virtual Meeting that included panel discussions, workshops, and networking opportunities meant to help trainees and early-career members navigate career paths and options.

Sessions

  • Entrepreneurship in Human Genetics Panel Discussion
  • Mentoring Up: How Trainees Can Help Mentors Mentor Them Better Panel
  • How to Have Difficult Conversations
  • Behind the Scenes Publications Workshop
  • Diversity Luncheon: Experiences & Strategies for Belonging and Advocating for Diversity
  • Career Paths in Genetics Networking Session

VIRTUAL CAREER FAIR

ASHG held its first Virtual Career Fair wherein attendees were able to meet recruiters and representatives of numerous academic institutions, other nonprofit organizations, and private companies offering positions across a wide variety of career paths in genetics and genomics. Attendees also had the opportunity to network with mentors, peers, and potential employers based on career path and topic interests. Finally, career coaches were available for 1x1 meetings to review resumes/CVs and provide interview and career counseling tips.

ASHG is committed to enhancing diversity, equity, and inclusion within the genetics and genomics research workforce and engagement of underrepresented groups as participants in genetics and genomics research studies.

DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION DIALOGUE SERIES

ASHG held a summer/fall 2020 dialogue series on diversity, equity, and inclusion topics to hear and learn about the ASHG community’s thoughts and experiences, including:

  • How to improve the inclusion of diverse researchers within our programs and activities.
  • Barriers to equity and inclusion for diverse individuals within the workforce.
  • How past injustices have impacted and how we might address them to expand research participation.

These dialogues with the community have and continue to help ASHG leadership prioritize action on the topics and issues most important to the genetics and genomics community.

GENOMIC WORKFORCE DIVERSITY INITIATIVE

ASHG, with funding from NHGRI and collaborations with the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG) and the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC), conducted surveys of the human genetics and genomics workforce to better understand the workforce’s demographics and the climate and culture in training programs and workplaces. The group is actively analyzing the results of these surveys and plans to disseminate comprehensive reports with strategies for action in late 2021 or early 2022.

HUMAN GENETICS SCHOLARS INITIATIVE

Made possible with continued foundational support from NHGRI and Biogen along with annual support from GSK, Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD), and Roche, the Human Genetics Scholars Initiative (HGSI) supports the professional success of diverse early-career genetics and genomics researchers by providing them with year-round education, networking, and mentoring while also working to develop a community of researchers and leaders committed to diversity and inclusion at their institutions and in their training programs.

Congrats to the 2020-2022 Scholars!

ASHG speaks out on behalf of the human genetics and genomics community – writing perspectives on the implications of genetics and genomics discoveries; calling for Congress to invest in research; and promoting evidence-based policies that benefit science, personal and public health, and society at large.

THE ECONOMIC IMPACT AND FUNCTIONAL APPLICATIONS OF HUMAN GENETICS AND GENOMICS

Working with outside research firm, TEconomy Partners, ASHG commissioned a field report to quantify and highlight the enormous economic impact and emerging functional applications of human genetics and genomics research. The Society issued this report as a new member tool for advocating for human genetics and genomics research and the need for increased public funding.

Major Impacts

  • Contributes $265 billion per year to the U.S. economy.
  • Supported a total of 850,000 U.S. jobs in 2019.
  • Numerous emerging functional applications.
“This field is perhaps one of the best examples of the value of scientific research to our entire economy and of the case for continuing to build on that investment.”

— Gail Jarvik, ASHG President

INAUGURAL CAPITOL HILL DAY

This year marked the first-ever ASHG Capitol Hill Day, held virtually in April 2021. The ASHG Government and Public Advocacy Committee (GPAC), President Gail Jarvik, MD, PhD, Dana Crawford, PhD, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force (DEITF) Chair, and leaders of the Career Development Committee (CDC) met with key congressional offices. Our advocates urged these congressional leaders to support increasing NIH’s budget, provide research recovery funding for labs disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and support diversity, equity, and inclusion in the research workforce and research study participation.

PROFESSIONAL GUIDANCE

In August 2020, ASHG published its first Professional Guidance on Ancient DNA Research that articulates five key points that all geneticists should follow when considering research involving ancient DNA:

  1. Formally consulting with communities.
  2. Addressing cultural and ethical considerations.
  3. Engaging the community and supporting capacity building.
  4. Developing plans to report results and manage data.
  5. Developing plans for long-term responsibility and stewardship.

The Guidance also stresses the importance of understanding the politics and local laws, including indigenous community regulations, of the country in which they are working.

Photo on right: Emory University researcher working in ancient DNA laboratory. Used with permission from Emory University.

ASHG actively engages the public in learning more about their genomes, gaining a new appreciation of humanity’s diversity and our shared genetic heritage as a single species, and exploring the benefits and implications of genetics and genomics for society-at-large.

DNA DAY ESSAY CONTEST

Each year ASHG works to spark excitement and learning among the next generation of genetics professionals and foster greater awareness among the general public through its annual DNA Day Essay Contest. In April 2021, the Society received nearly 1,000 essays from high school students across 46 U.S. states and territories and 30 other countries. The 2021 question addressed population representation in genetic research, bringing attention to the importance of research participation and how inclusion of diverse populations can affect research results and usefulness.

2021 DNA Day Essay Contest Winners

DISCOVER GENETICS

ASHG’s public facing website, Discover Genetics, soft launched in April 2021 with a new look and resources, including:

  • Fact sheets on a diverse set of genetics topics including rare diseases, population representation in genetic research, etc.
  • New videos for those interested in information on autism and genetics produced in collaboration with SPARK for Autism.
  • An animation detailing the six things that everyone should know about human genetics and genomics.

INCLUSIVE MESSAGING

ASHG worked with experts in health equity and organizations serving historically marginalized communities to develop public messaging that shares the benefits of genetic knowledge and new treatments, acknowledges legitimate historic wrongs, and encourages research participation. Based on their valuable feedback, ASHG plans to develop more informed and effective engagement strategies to educate and engage more people in genomics.

In FY21, ASHG navigated thoughtfully through the uncertainty and financial impacts of the pandemic. Given sound financial footing going into this period, the Society sustained its work toward its strategic goals and provided even more programming for members and the field.
Preliminary revenue and expense categories and percentages for fiscal year 2021
Thank you to those organizations and individuals who joined in support of programs and initiatives that benefit the human genetics and genomics research community through their generous financial and volunteer contributions. For a full list of 2020-2021 Partners, Donors, and Volunteers download the full annual report.
2020-2021 ASHG Contributing Partners
Thank you for contributing to the advancement of human genetics and genomics!