Are You Getting The Most out of Your Scientific Meeting Attendance?


Thinking about Scientific and professional development.

As I reflect upon 2019 and the different trade shows I attended over 2019, it was an interesting year, with one show standing out for something other than scientific content.

As the pharmaceutical industry has shifted over the last 10 years with travel budgets severely restricted since 2008, most companies limit the number of scientific shows and attendees they will send their staff to for scientific enrichment. If you are lucky enough to go, you have to pick one.

This year, I exhibited at four large trade shows, some specific, some more broad.

Interestingly, SOT (Society of Toxicology) has shifted over the years to a mostly agrochemical/environmental show. Only 25% of the attendees represented the pharmaceutical market.

ASGCT (American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy) exploded; effectively outgrowing their venue space to the point of standing room only and televised sessions you could enjoy from the comfort of your hotel room (Read Janet’s blog here :  )

ACT (American College of Toxicology) is becoming the go-to meeting for the toxicology space. For a relatively small meeting of ~1200 attendees, it put on a great continuing education program with 10 separate courses spanning the “Intersection of Regulations and Project Management” to “What’s New with Nonclinical ICH Guidance”.

The meeting I was most impressed with was AAPS/PharmSci360. As with the three other trade shows I attended, PharmSci360 put on a strong scientific program, in line with the needs of the pharmaceutical industry. However, I am most impressed with what PharmSci360 is doing around Career Development. Each of these meetings mentioned are committed to growing the attendees scientifically, but AAPS/PharmSci360 is committed to helping each one of us to grow personally to advance our careers.

In an era where Professional Development resources within a given organization are limited, if they even exist, AAPS/PharmSci360 provides an incredible resource to help us each grow. I am not sure how many attendees even realize the incredible added resources available to them at each annual meeting. Not to mention the remaining months of the year where you can tap into webinars, training courses, etc. This year’s program focused on “Strategic Management & Leadership Education” with sessions including “management to the early-stage pharmaceutical scientist” to “building more effective cross-functional teams”. I particularly loved the included session on “What to expect starting your industry in a CRO/CMO”. As someone who has always worked on the CRO side of the Pharmaceutical industry, I am thrilled the attendees can see the industry through this lens.

I’ve been in this industry since 1996 and certainly as a younger scientist (yes, I’m originally a bench scientist), I rarely was in a position where my employer would/could support my professional development externally. So if I wanted external training, I faced either not doing it at all, or funding it myself. If only something like this had been available as I was coming up through the ranks.

As you look to 2020 and consider the scientific meeting(s) you might attend, consider one that will help you grow not only scientifically, but will also help you to grow personally.

By Maggie McMullen, Business Development Operations Manager