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SCDM 2018 in Review: Experience, Inspire, Advance

Dr. Joby John

Attending SCDM's 2018 Annual Conference in Seattle allowed me to combine some of my passions — travel, learning and knowledge-sharing — into one wonderful sojourn.

Themed 'Experience, Inspire and Advance,' this year's program and beautiful Pacific Northwest location didn't disappoint. Below are some thoughts I'd like to share on the conference through the lens of "must-see" city sights in parallel with the program content.

Experience: People and Pike Place Market

Touring Pike Place Market as part of a lively tour group--with its unique sights, smells, tastes and joie de vivre – was an incredible experience, making it richly deserving of its "must do" status.

Similarly, it was the people and interactions within such a rich conference setting that made it so special. Meeting old friends – whether former colleagues or clients — and making new friends, acquaintances and also some new clients — was a wonderful experience. I even met a colleague with whom I worked 14 years ago but never met in-person until now. I also met people who were clients some time ago – including a few who could induce fear who are like old friends now that we've moved onto different companies. There were also people I see only at conferences who have become part of an invaluable support system. Because of all these wonderful people, SCDM is a "must do" experience - just like Pike Place Market!

Inspire: Space Needle and Conference Perspectives

The 360-degree views from the observation deck of the Space Needle and the deceptively terrifying rotating glass floor give unique perspectives on the city of Seattle below. Likewise, the conference was ripe with perspectives, including those of senior executives who shared their inspiring journeys, experiences, and views of the clinical data management world. The exhibitors, poster competition and product showcases added another dimension. FDA Branch Chief, Dr. Kassa Ayalew, of the Office of Scientific Investigations, Office of Compliance, CDER, gave regulatory perspective. Kaye Fendt brought a proud nostalgic perspective, reflecting on the rich history and progress of SCDM and Good Data Management Practice (GCDMP), drawing on her time at FDA and other experiences during her long career.

Advance - Boeing Tour and Conference Sessions

The Boeing factory tour takes visitors inside a working plant where Boeing 747, 767, 777, and 787 are assembled. A long line of partially built planes moves around an enormous U-shaped assembly line that begin as what appears to be a tangle of parts and ending as final finished planes that fly away through the gigantic doors of the plant. I saw completed 787 Dreamliner and even caught a glimpse of the 777X, a Boeing aircraft of the future with the widest wingspan. Once it takes flight, the craft will be "the largest and most efficient twin-engine jet in the world."

The conference promised to be a platform for insights into cutting-edge solutions and best practices and how SCDM delivered! Just like the advanced Boeing 777X, the comprehensive program, from keynote, to the various sessions, was thoughtful and innovative in design.

Below are some of my favorite program highlights:

  • The keynote topic, though part of our clinical world, covered a completely different aspect of clinical research - research in underdeveloped economies, socio-geo-political approaches to disease eradication, as well as the use of drugs in healthy patients who voluntarily were infected with curable diseases for research.
  • The 'Technology Ignite - Spark the Future' session, which I was also a part of showcasing Bioclinica's Clean Patient Optics provided a unique platform for six different speakers to share their recent innovations helping to overcome everyday Clinical Data Management challenges.
  • Another interesting session was 'Data Management in 2020 and Beyond' in which panelists explored many new and trending technology and patient engagement applications.
  • A host of additional sessions examined various cutting edge and trending topics, among them: "direct to patient", "virtual trials", "eConsent", "mHealth", "EHR", "FHI", "AI", "ML" and "blockchain."

This was my third SCDM conference and it just keeps getting better year after year. Kudos to the society, the board and the co-chairs for another impactful and well-organized conference full of great takeaways and meaningful interactions. The conference and city left me refreshed, connected and enthused. I'm already looking forward to Baltimore in 2019!

Please join me for an Xtalks webinar on November 6: 5 Critical Questions Small to Mid-Sized Sponsors Need to Ask When Evaluating an EDC Provider.

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