Reflections on the 12th Annual Advanced Course in Diagnostics (ACDx) in Annecy, France

I am writing this in the airport in Geneva waiting for my flight home from ACDx. This summer for my practicum, I had the pleasure of working with the Mérieux Foundation as they prepared for the 12th annual Advanced Course on Diagnostics (ACDx). This course brings together professionals from all over the world and different sectors, including research, clinical laboratories, policy and regulation, and biotechnology to discuss diagnostics. We had six days packed full of lectures, panel discussions, and workshops all hosted at Les Pensières in Annecy, France.

One of the many qualities that makes ACDx a special event is that it is relatively small. This year there were 25 participants, and a set of core faculty with several additional speakers who rotated throughout the week. We all stayed at Les Pensières Center for Global Health in Annecy, on the beautiful lake. This setting allowed us to build true connections, not only spending all day together learning but continuing those conversations over shared meals, walking along the lake, and exploring the town.

A scenic shot of the river and old town Annecy

The core focus throughout the week is improving equitable access to diagnostics, especially in LMICs. It was a great demonstration of global public health in action. Colleagues from around the world were discussing the barriers to access to high quality and affordable diagnostics in their respective communities, and how to collaborate to build sustainable solutions to complex problems. Throughout the week we heard from experts at WHO, Africa CDC, ASLM, NIH, FIND, UNITAID, Fondation Merieux and more covering various topics in diagnostics from emerging technologies to laboratory system strengthening, regulatory harmonization, antimicrobial resistance, social innovation for public health, public health communications about diagnostics and One Health, and the implications of climate change on diagnostics. Honestly, my head is still spinning a bit from all the great talks we heard and conversations we had. I look forward to keeping in touch with the colleagues I met this week, and I hope to return to Annecy someday soon.


The ACDx group participants pose for a picture outside in front of tall green trees

To learn more about ACDx, visit:

Lightning Talks about Diagnostics

Hello everyone! My name is Sophie Nachman and I am an MPH student in the EQUITY concentration. This summer for my practicum I have been working with the Mérieux Foundation, an organization based in Lyon, France which focuses on access to diagnostics and other public health research around the globe. Each year they host the Advanced Course in Diagnostics (ACDx), a week-long event dedicated to discussing diagnostics policy, development, and implementation to address public health issues. Participants include laboratory scientists, health professionals, decision-makers, and researchers from around the world, mostly from LMICs.

One of the core goals of the course is to spur collaboration and networking. To aid in this goal, one of my projects this summer has been to organize a series of video lightning talks with the incoming cohort of participants. For this series, we asked participants to record a three-minute video presentation about a topic of their choosing related to diagnostics. Historically, participants do not meet each other before ACDx in the fall so our primary goal for this project was to start building community among the incoming cohort in the months leading up to ACDx. Our secondary goal was to identify participants to speak on panels or round-table discussions during ACDx in September. We identified three topics from the ACDx agenda to serve as guides, and invited participants to record lightning talks related to those topics if they were interested in participating in those panel discussions.

We hosted a Zoom meeting in June to introduce the lightning talks project where we discussed our goals, potential topics, and covered open access and widely available presentation tools. We then gave participants one month to record their presentation. Of the 35 participants, we received 16 lightning talks about a variety of topics, including COVID-19, malaria, polio, climate change and diagnostics, domestic manufacturing of diagnostics, and tools and policies to increase access in rural communities and conflict zones. Since receiving the videos, we have started posting the videos in a WhatsApp group for the current cohort a few times per week and invited folks to post questions and comments. We will continue to post these videos regularly for the next several weeks to build community within the incoming cohort, start conversations about innovative research in diagnostics, and get people excited about ACDx in September.

Based on the topics participants chose, we have invited people to participate in panel discussions in ACDx. We also intend to build on the video project during a session about designing videos for health communication during ACDx, and I appreciate the support from Gillings that will enable me to attend the course in September. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the ACDx team so far, and learning about the interesting work that ACDx participants are doing to improve availability and access to diagnostics all over the world.

-Sophie Nachman