July 1, 2009

In recent months,
has been quietly
celebrating its 40th birthday. But I am keen on birthdays and sing
“Happy Birthday” out loud on anybody's birthday, sometimes even over the
phone long distance. Without birthdays, we would not be here, right? I
do not regret growing older. Aging is a privilege denied to many.
Besides, wrinkles do not hurt.

Recent guest editors have noted the magazine's
relationships within the medical laboratory community throughout its
history: the late Daniel M. Baer, MD; Ray Gambino, MD; NIU's Dean
Shirley Richmond of the College of Health and Human Sciences; and James
O. Westgard, PhD — just a few of the esteemed physicians and educators
who over those 40 years have mapped out the clinical lab's territory on
MLO's pages as well as those of other respected publications.

As I pondered who to invite as “birthday” guest
editors, the thought came to me: Search industry professional
organizations for candidates. As I made a list of groups to contact, I
wondered how old they were in comparison to MLO. When were
“born”? Since we are headed to Chicago's McCormick Place
Convention Center this month, I decided to look first at the AACC. AACC
hosts the world's largest lab conference with up to 19,000 registrants
from more than 100 countries. (My feet ache at the mere thought
of walking that convention floor!) AACC, 61 this year, was founded in

The “granddaddy” of them all, the American
Society of Microbiologists, was initiated in 1899 when 59 scientists met
and has grown to 43,000 members today, representing 26 disciplines of
microbiological specialization.

AABB beats AACC by one year at 62, having been
founded in 1947, and has active members in all 50 states and 80
countries, and more than 30 committees of volunteer professionals. The
CLMA is a whippersnapper at 33, arriving on the scene in 1976. Its
international members number 4,000 and promote leadership among them
through education, networking, and advocacy.

The American Society of Hematology showed up in
1958, 51 years ago. Its first meeting in Atlantic City, NJ, welcomed
more than 300 hematologists who discussed ethical and research matters
related to blood and blood diseases. Today, the organization publishes
its journal
Blood, which is the most cited peer-reviewed publication in the

Consider the American Society of Clinical
Pathologists (ASCP), which, in 1922, formed to unite pathologists and
lab professionals, with the mission to provide excellence in education,
certification, and advocacy on behalf of its members, as well as
patients. In 1945, ASCP suggested forming a separate “academy of
pathology,” thus, in 1946, the College of American Pathologists came
into being.

Other medical lab organizations (unnamed here)
successfully exist. Their individual and collective contributions
combined with those listed give professionals who have similar interests
the grand opportunity to become more involved in learning, teaching,
volunteering, discovering, solving, inventing, and designing.

As MLO shares a bit of medical lab
birthday history, it seems that such occasions are the culmination of
enthusiasm for a cause.
cause has been to educate lab professionals with peer-reviewed
articles that provide continuing education. At 40, the MLO staff
continues to be enthused about that challenge. As Henry David Thoreau
once said: “None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm.” So,
sing out loud … and, yes, a little off-key is fine.

[email protected]

Note: Formation dates and other information about various organizations was taken from their websites.