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By Joseph W. Polli

Joseph Polli-finalAs the Chair of the 2015 AAPS Annual Meeting and Exposition Planning Committee (AMPC), it’s my goal to optimize the event to better meet the needs of both attendees and exhibitors. At times, this isn’t an easy task. Today, people can no longer leave their work life behind when they travel to a scientific conference, where the desire is to attend cutting edge scientific sessions, interact with key leaders in the field, have opportunities to network with colleagues, and learn about new technologies from exhibitors. Dashing from meeting to meeting, on top of checking email/voicemail, can be stressful and distracts from time for learning and engagement.

So how do we find work-meeting balance when we’re expected to be available 24/7? And how to we optimize the AAPS experience in order to get the most out of the scientific sessions?

The AMPC has made a number of changes to the AAPS Annual Meeting program to help address these issues. We’ve allotted time between sessions so that attendees can visit the exhibit floor, interact with poster presenters, listen to different speakers, network with colleagues, and maybe even have a little down time. We’ve made the overall meeting a little bit shorter by starting later in the day (7:30 am instead of 7:00 am), so that early risers will have a chance to get some work done before focusing on the AAPS Annual Meeting, while others may get a few more minutes of sleep. We’re not changing the amount of programming, just facilitating better time management and scheduling sessions that compete less with one another. In this way, attendees can get the most value for their time, and see the content they want to see in a less stressful environment. Sounds good, right?

Here are a few other things that are changing. We now have some “personal time” each day from noon–1:40 pm for a lunch break, meeting with a colleague, or catching up on a bit of work. During this period, there will be no focus group meetings or scientific sessions so you can concentrate on your priorities (hopefully in the exhibit hall seeking new technology and equipment!). Roundtables will have two panelists, who will present for 15 minutes each, followed by 90 minutes of Q&A. This will provide for more debate and discussion of critical issues in the field. We’re combining our popular “mini-symposium” format with our traditional symposium to streamline the sessions with three speakers and encouraging deeper scientific presentations though longer presentation times. Finally, we’re driving traffic to our poster sessions and exhibitors by extending time for poster presenters to be at their posters.

And what’s our vision for the next five years? We’d love to increase connectivity so that interested attendees can participate regardless of geographic hurdles. Identify opportunities for more international presence and balance, and rebrand the meetings so participants can receive content in their preferred format, such as live streaming and post and during-meeting podcasts. We’re also working on innovative ways to enhance the student experience at the meeting. After all, they are the future of this organization.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the proposed changes, and/or any we might have missed! Please feel free to reply to the blog with your suggestions. A full list of proposed changes is available on the AAPS website.

Thank you for all you do for AAPS. We can’t wait to see everyone at the 2015 AAPS Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida (October 25–29)!

Joseph W. Polli, Ph.D., is the worldwide head of mechanism and extrapolations technology section within DMPK at GlaxoSmithKline, Inc, providing in vitro support for the registration of clinical drug candidates, which includes mechanistic studies on absorption, distribution, metabolism, elimination and drug interactions. His research interests include membrane transporters that influence drug disposition, application of clinical genetics to drug metabolism/transport, and processes to enhance the development of drug candidates.