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10 Tricks for Surviving and Thriving at ASCO’s Annual Meeting

10 Tricks for Surviving and Thriving at ASCO’s Annual Meeting

  • From O’Hare: The Blue “L” line from O’Hare to downtown Chicago is a 30-minute ride. A taxi from the airport costs $40 to $50. Shared ride services are also available for cheaper individual rates.

    From Midway: The Orange “L” train is a 25-minute ride. A taxi from the airport to downtown costs $30 to $36.

  • The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) provides daily shuttles that operate from 6:45 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. between the big hotels and McCormick place, with the last shuttle departing McCormick Place at 7:00 p.m. The shuttles run roughly every 20 minutes.
  • Dress is business casual: Wear layers as some rooms are cold and drafty.

    Wear comfortable walking shoes: You will put on the miles.

  • McCormick Place: This convention center is huge—the largest in North America—but with some planning you will have no trouble getting around.

    Attend the “How to Navigate the Annual Meeting” session: This is for fellows and junior faculty only and is held on Saturday, June 3 in room S501 from 7:30 a.m. – 8:00 a.m.

  • Pick out topics/themes: Use the iPlanner on ASCO’s website or on your mobile device.

    Trainee and Early-Career Oncologist Member Lounge: For fellow, residents, and junior faculty, check out the lounge in room S501. Some of this year’s career-focused sessions include:
    • “Career Transitions in Private Practice,” held Saturday, June 3 from 11:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
    • “Why I Chose Oncology: Choosing an Oncology Fellowship,” held Sunday June 4 from 9:15 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
    • “Presentation Speaking: How to Give a Good Talk,” held Monday, June 5 from 5:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
    • Check out the full schedule here.

  • ASCO is hosting a Tweet Up: To be held on Saturday, June 3 at 5:45 p.m.

    Use the hashtag #ASCO17 when you tweet.

    When posting to social media, don’t forget:
    • Protect patient privacy! When you tweet, respect all laws including HIPAA.
    • Make sure conflicts of interest are disclosed, apportion credit appropriately, and respect copyright.
    • Separate the personal from the professional.
    • Read your institution’s guidelines on social media before you go.

  • Attend the daily “Highlights of the Day” sessions: A summary of the prior day’s scientific highlights, held Sunday through Tuesday from 7:30 a.m. – 9:15 a.m. in Hall D1.

    Dos and Don’ts:
    DO attend poster discussion sessions. Speakers will highlight/summarize/editorialize several top posters.
    DO review educational session topics for broader discussions on subjects.
    DON’T miss the most highly anticipated abstracts from the meeting.

  • ASCO is great for networking, collaborations, and potential jobs:
    • Some large private practices have booths set up in the Expo Hall.
    • Industry contacts often can be found near their booth in the Expo Hall.
    • Bring your business cards, ask for theirs.

    For academics, search out potential contacts:
    • See if they are presenting via iPlanner.
    • Poster sessions are the best places to network. Introduce yourself and ask thoughtful questions (research the abstract topic first!), then broach collaboration/job prospects.

  • Don’t forget to drink water. Always a good idea to bring a a refillable bottle.

  • At the Meeting: Aside from two food courts and the bevy of chain restaurants, the fellow/junior faculty lounge has drinks and snacks.

    Dinner in Chicago: Check out the best pizza in the city from the Chicago Tribune as well as the Dining Awards with the top-voted barbecue, food truck, brewery, and rooftop dining spots in the city.

  • Baseball: Chicago has two baseball teams. The White Sox are out of town this year during ASCO weekend but the 2016 World Series Champion Cubs are home playing the Cardinals, June 2–4, and the Marlins, June 5–6.

    Museums and other activities: Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, Field Museum, Museum of Science & Industry, Shedd Aquarium, Division Street Music Festival, and Second City comedy.

    Chicago’s beautiful views: Skydeck Chicago atop of the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower), John Hancock Signature Room at the 95th to see the views while having a drink without admission.

    Shopping: The Magnificent Mile and the Water Tower Place mall are top spots to shop.

  • Don’t forget to check on TSA security wait times before heading home from this year’s meeting. Wait times of up a few hours have been reported at peak times in previous years.

  • Follow up with any new contacts: Email is the preferred way, though if it is for a job prospect, include a cover letter and CV in PDF format.

    Think about what you learned and discuss with colleagues:
    • What new info will change how you approach treatment decisions?
    • How will you and your colleagues better care for patients as a result of the meeting?


We've updated the Cubs home dates and updated dining recommendations from the Tribune. Hope everyone enjoys the 2017 meeting!

The Editors @

This is really funny and helpful, too- I remember my fist ASCO Meeting was 1991 .....

Petra @

Very nice, friendly and amazing way to get oriented. As a ASCO's dinosaur, taking part of it since 1993, it is the most interesting clues I've ever read regarding to ASCO meetings. Congrats!
Surprising ever!

Andre @

good idea and surprising !!

franco @

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