By Annette Bak

Annette BakWhen I was finishing graduate school and starting to engage in AAPS in the mid-1990s, the scientific environment was relatively stable. The major players—and therefore also career choices—were mainly industry and academia, and the focus was on scientific excellence in one’s chosen field. I recall that this was reflected in the first AAPS Annual Meeting that I attended.

Shortly thereafter the pace of change picked up. For the pharmaceutical industry, major blockbuster drugs came off patent, there was an influx of generic drugs, and brand-name pipelines were getting increasingly slim. In response, naturally, came changes to the drug development model. Previously, this had occurred nestled end-to-end within the walls of large pharma companies, tightly supported at the front end with high-quality academic research and at the tail end with quality regulatory interactions. This model shifted and new players appeared. In the current very dynamic state, drug development is a fluent collaboration between pharma companies, academic collaborators, drug discovery and delivery companies, CROs and CMOs, industry organizations, and of course government agencies. Due to the rapid expansion of the field this list may even not be exhaustive.

Scientific excellence is still front-and-center for pharmaceutical scientists, but the objectives have expanded and scientific breadth is now essential along with increased demands for soft and business skills. Responding to the new environment, AAPS is making several strategic changes. At the 2015 Leadership Retreat, participants focused on a new strategic plan for AAPS, which among other outputs resulted in a new mission: “AAPS advances the capacity of pharmaceutical scientists to develop products and therapies that improve global health.” This new mission statement reflects the increased need for collaboration but also the more diverse membership base in the pharmaceutical science community.

The changes we are making for the 2016 Annual Meeting flow directly from the new mission and other strategic changes. Based on member feedback, we are faced with a paradoxical problem: an increasing need for scientific diversity/breadth while still maintaining scientific quality and depth. Therefore, the 2016 AAPS Annual Meeting Program Committee (AMPC) has, at its recent jamboree, taken a quality-by-design approach to the annual meeting and identified four themes, which will constitute 30% of the program, to lay the foundation for high-quality scientific programming while still engaging membership broadly:

Accelerating Robust Product Development through New Technology: Materials Science, Engineering, and Analytics

  • Making New Delivery Modalities a Reality: Peptides, Proteins and Conjugates.
  • Enhancing Patient Lives through Accelerated Drug Development.
  • Paving the Way for Precision Medicine: Innovation and Implementation.

More details on the themes can be found on the 2016 Annual Meeting website!

The remaining 70% of the 2016 program will focus on other areas of pharmaceutical sciences, and programming ideas outside the themes are highly encouraged in the non-themed category.

We look forward to receiving your submissions to the four themes or in the non-themed category. Please submit your session proposal no later than 11:59 pm EDT on December 10, 2015. Contact Trish Smith for additional information.

Annette Bak Ph.D., 2016 Annual Meeting Programming Committee (AMPC) Chair on behalf of the 2016 AMPC