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Tony DeStefanoTony DeStefano, Ph.D., is the 2013 AAPS president.

My year as AAPS President has been enjoyable and educational. It has been a very rewarding experience and, together with the help of our members, the leadership team and I have had the opportunity to learn a lot about the industry we support.

One thing that strikes me is the current diversity of the industry in terms of its organizational structures and the scope of scientists it encompasses. Not long ago, manufacturers prescribed to the idea that most discovery and development activities were best done in-house, with outsourcing left to tasks needing excess capacity. Now, firms are really trying to establish their core and critical competencies and making hard decisions about what to outsource and what to keep in-house. The result is a rapid growth in full-service contract research organizations and consultants, and the outsourcing of entire processes or functions. On the science side, improved understanding of the biology behind diseases has led to an expansion of personalized medicine and even personal medicine— medicine designed for an individual. This has led to a broader base of people considering themselves pharmaceutical scientists and the creation of many small biotechnology-based firms with new ideas for curing disease plus a wide array of new biologics molecules.

The reason all this is interesting from an AAPS leadership perspective is that it changes how AAPS needs to think about who its members are now and are going to be in the future. AAPS has long served as a scientific home for many pharmaceutical scientists. However, many of the newer members of the community associate more with their particular discipline and not as much with the concept of being a pharmaceutical scientist. Thus they tend to focus on associations tied more closely to their specialty. AAPS has the ability through its focus groups, webinars, ecourses and other venues, to both bring together scientists with the same issues and allow for cross-disciplinary dialogue and networking—that is, bring together customers and suppliers in a learning environment where barriers can be broken down, connections made, and problems addressed. It has the opportunity to serve as a catalyst for the industry, lowering the energy barriers needed to keep employees current and solve problems.

To reach its full potential, AAPS needs to figure out how to continue to reach the right people and create a learning environment where companies large and small see it as a value-added organization that is really helping them succeed. The long-term perspective of AAPS as a growing and vibrant association is tied to its ability to make this happen.

We’re interested in your ideas. Who should AAPS be reaching out to that it isn’t now? If you’re an AAPS member, what’s the value proposition that makes you want to continue as a member? If you’re not a member, what learning or networking opportunities can AAPS provide that would make you want to join? We appreciate your input and feedback. Comment here…