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By Cathy Yarbrough

Cathy YarbroughI was asked to provide feedback about the AAPS 2014 Annual Meeting and Exposition in San Diego via an email survey. The first question on the AAPS survey was: “How were your expectations met for this meeting?” I checked the “much better than expected” box because unlike too many other scientific conferences that I’ve attended during my over 25-year career in science and medical communications, the AAPS annual meeting did not require that I ingest super-strength dosages of Starbucks coffee in order to stay alert and engaged.

At the AAPS meeting, only once did I order extra shots of espresso, and only one presentation failed to engage me.

“The sessions are so interesting,” I repeatedly said to Linda Brown, AAPS Newsmagazine’s managing editor, who gave me the opportunity to report about the annual meeting for the publication’s January 2015 issue.

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However, writing about the opening and plenary sessions and six of the “hot topic” sessions was challenging because Linda wisely limited the article to 3,000 words. I could have written more, because the meeting sessions were a goldmine of relevant information. Instead, I’ve shared the information that I learned at the AAPS meeting with several professional colleagues and friends.

For example, during a telephone conversation with a U.S.-based contract manufacturing organization (CMO) official, I described references to quality by design (QbD) during the session Integration of Risk Assessment into CMC Application Review. (For the CMO, I’m drafting a white paper related to QbD.) And, during the late-breaking session Ebola: A Global Health Problem in Need of Expediting Treatment Options, I was fascinated to hear from the head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) that this federal agency already has lined up three CMOs to manufacture Ebola-targeted drugs and vaccines developed with National Institutes of Health or Department of Defense funding and approved by FDA. After the meeting, I learned more about BARDA via an Internet search. In addition to my editor at Life Science Leader magazine, many of my friends now know about the government agency’s role in the Ebola epidemic.

Only one annual meeting presentation—Daniel Kraft, M.D.’s opening session keynote The Future of Health & Medicine: Where Can Technology Take Us? failed to engage me. Kraft, who chairs Singularity University’s medicine track, talked about digital medicine. Perhaps because the popular media has reported extensively on digital medicine technologies, and San Diego, where I live, regards itself as the hub of digital medical technology, Kraft did not communicate anything that I already didn’t know.

I do know a lot more about pharmaceutical sciences as a result of the AAPS meeting and hope to learn more, perhaps at the 2015 meeting in Orlando. Meanwhile, the AAPS website and this blog have been bookmarked on my computer.

Prior to launching her career as a freelance science and medical writer, Cathy Yarbrough held senior leadership positions in communications at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, Rockefeller University, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, National Human Genome Research Institute, and American Heart Association.