Annual Meeting Rises with the Sun and Shines

June 22, 2009
Kerri Nelen

Applied Clinical Trials

San Diego Convention Center welcomes a packed house, as U.S. meeting gets underway with California casualness.

DIA officially commenced its 45th Annual DIA Meeting early Monday morning in sunny San Diego with the always well-attended plenary session. This year proved no exception, as the packed auditorium seemed to attract a majority of the nearly 8000 attendees present.

Annual Meeting Program Chair Nancy Smith, PhD, former director, office of Training and Communications at FDA's CDER, expressed delight at such a high level of attendance during these challenging economic times, which also includes over 1000 speakers and 520 companies that are manning over 835 booths.

Over the next three days, 350 sessions will provide attendees with what Smith described as the most important part of the meeting: the chance to meet colleagues from around the globe. "So, talk to the person sitting next to you, make a new friend every day," she advised. 

Communication was also at the heart of the key note speaker's address, specifically responsible medical communication. In a world where information seems to travel at the speed of light thanks to the Internet, Nancy Snyderman, MD, chief medical editor at NBC News, says it is our responsibility-industry, academia, global governments, and the press-to tell the story correctly.

"So what is our role?" she asked. "To figure out what the message is and move it forward." According to Snyderman, that means making sure the medical information out there is credible and can help the average person, and having a free press that is an ally and not an enemy and who acts as a cautious watchdog.      

The dangers of telling the wrong story or telling the story wrong, Snyderman said, can undermine the health and well-being of the populace. She gave the example of what happened in the early 1980s with HIV as proof, when uninformed doctors and an uninformed press created a lot of bad information, leading to unintelligent health policies.

"Never before has this world been so small," she said, "and never before has the responsibility been to communication with transparency, so the people who rely on us know we can be trusted."

Memorable moments
This year's plenary also played host to farewells and awards. Marie Dray, MBA, addressed the audience for the last time as DIA president. Dray, who is handing over the reigns to Jeffrey Sherman, MD, FACP, of IDM Pharma (Irvine, CA), warned that "adherence to [the] status quo will not propel our industry forward." To that end, she said, DIA must embrace healthy change-the only certainty in 2009-while maintaining the agency's core values.

In addition, Dray awarded DIA's Outstanding Service Award to none other than Applied Clinical Trials' columnist Kenneth Getz, who is a senior research fellow at Tufts CSDD and Chairman of CISCRP. Such a recognition comes as no surprise to those who know the passion Getz has for the clinical research enterprise. Congratulations Ken!

Don't miss interviews with both Ken Getz and Nancy Smith. You can find them here.

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