DIA Annual Meeting Preview

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DIA President and Global Chief Executive provides the highlights for this year’s meeting being held in Boston at the end of June.

Marwan Fathallah

Marwan Fathallah

In early 2023, Marwan Fathallah was appointed President and Global Chief Executive of the Drug Information Association (DIA), an organization in existence since 1964 to proactively serve the life sciences industry about all roles involved in the scientific evaluation of medicines. Fathallah has over 30 years of experience ranging from operations, end-to-end supply chain, manufacturing, research and development, quality and regulatory, clinical, medical affairs and commercial execution in the pharmaceutical, medical device, drug delivery and diagnostics industries. Most recently he was Operating Officer and Executive Vice President at Ortho Clinical Diagnostics. Here he speaks to Applied Clinical Trials about the highlights of this year’s program.

ACT: What would like to highlight about DIA and its role in the industry?

MF: The most significant value DIA brings to the table always stems from our role as a “connector.” We connect academia, regulators, industry, thought leaders, providers, members, patients, etc., from all over the world. We pull them together to tackle tough topics in the best interest of healthcare and patients. No matter what we have achieved—or will achieve in the future—that fact can’t be highlighted enough. It’s what drives everything we do. DIA is a connector.

ACT: This year’s DIA 2023 Global Annual Meeting will be held June 25-29 in Boston, with the theme “Illuminate.” Why did you choose that theme?

MF: Year over year, we try to create continuity in the themes for the Global Annual Meeting. Last year’s meeting centered around The Future of Healthcare. So, DIA 2023 is exciting to us because it builds on that theme and expresses our desire to illuminate the future of healthcare.

We have outstanding speakers coming from around the world, as well as representation from over 40 global regulatory agencies and policy groups. This is a unique opportunity—not only for regulators and industry to talk with one another but also for regulators to talk with each other.

What’s truly special about the DIA 2023 Global Annual Meeting is that it will go a step further than illuminating the future of healthcare; it will also help bring all the parties along to that future. We all know that achieving a brilliant future requires all parties to hold hands, so to speak. The presenters will shine a bright light on what that looks like and the steps needed to achieve the future we all aspire to see.

ACT: What can DIA 2023 attendees expect as far as programming and events? Are there any sessions you’d like to highlight?

MF: DIA 2023 will host 13 industry-leading educational tracks on topics including clinical trials, pharmacology, translational sciences, CMC, professional development, value, and access, and more. Throughout the meeting, the patient’s voice will be heard alongside the insights of regulators, industry, and others. So, no matter your area of interest, you can create an engaging and informative agenda.

Kicking off all these tracks will be an exceptional plenary session focusing on diversity, Innovation and AI are accelerating the future of health--three themes central to biopharma today.

Every year we fine-tune our sessions based on collaborative industry feedback. Last year, for instance, many courses in our professional development track were standing room only. So, this year, we’ve increased the number of sessions in this track. Likewise, we heard previously that there was too much overlap between two of our tracks—Statistics & Data and Data & Technology in Clinical Trials. Consequently, the Clinical Trials track has been renamed and updated. It’s now called the Data & Technology track, and the overlap has been resolved.

Besides our 13 tracks, attendees will benefit from our:

  • Regulatory Town Halls. These are some of the best-attended sessions because people get the chance to hear directly from regulators from around the globe during the Town Halls. We’re thrilled to have a lot of great Town Halls slated for DIA 2023—including a WHO Town Hall and an ANVISA Town Hall that are new this year. They’ll join Town Halls held by the FDA, the FDA with the EMA, the FDA with the WHO, and many others.
  • Innovation theaters. Are exhibitor sponsored presentations on cutting edge ideas and applications for the future of health.
  • Content hubs, our non-traditional learning/networking hybrid Is specifically designed for small groups to connect with others that share the same Interests. They will be able to Interact with community leaders and have meaningful discussions to gain rapid insight in a subject of interest.
  • Community roundtables. These give people interested in a particular subject a chance to convene.
  • Exhibit hall. This year’s vibrant exhibit hall features more than 500 clinical development partners.
  • Short courses. Before the meeting, we offer several short courses on topics such as real-world evidence, pharmacovigilance, or introduction to cell and gene therapy. Short Courses are designed to enhance attendee knowledge in both broad and specific areas to improve their day-to-day job function. Whether someone is new to the industry or wants to learn more, these short courses are an incredible opportunity.

ACT: Specific to clinical operations, do you have any thoughts or comments for that portion of the audience?

MF: Yes, we have a track called Clinical Trials and Clinical Operations. Among these sessions will be discussions about the challenges and solutions for global and multi-regional clinical trials. Given the many new possibilities that have developed during the pandemic, they're timely topics. We'll also talk about optimizing clinical trials and including the patient’s point of view in clinical trials—which is another crucial and evolving conversation.

In addition, we’ll look at current and innovative methods to evaluate technology advances, which wraps back around to AI as discussed in the Opening Plenary discussion. How do we think about devices and wearables? How do they fit into clinical trials? There are so many considerations when it comes to clinical trial operations. This track is a very robust part of our meeting.

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