What Would Andy Taylor Do

Remember Andy Griffith’s character Sheriff Andy Taylor of Mayberry, NC. He rarely carried a gun, almost never had one in a holster on his hip. Now I know times have changed since the idyllic 1950’s, but a phone call to a radio station caught my attention. The caller said that X number of years ago, probably in the 1960’s – 1970’s, police forces began learning and training using military type tactics. The caller indicated that people at the top in US police forces all began to adopt similar training.

He stated once upon a time, police were trained and called Peace Officers. The new training teaches them to control and dominate a situation and a suspect.

The situation with Rayshard Brooks could have happened so differently with the mindset of a Peace Officer. And in my mind that’s the policing style of (I know he’s just a TV character) Andy Taylor. So ask yourself in the situation with Rayshard Brooks: what would Andy Taylor do?

The police were talking with Rayshard Brooks for about 30 minutes when they decided they had to arrest him. Rayshard tested positive for DUI with a blood alcohol level of .108. About 30 years ago a person was deemed intoxicated with a level of .10 and then I think all states lowered it to .08. Why he chose to resist arrest and fight so hard when everything was going so calmly is beyond my understanding. No doubt that he’s responsible for the escalation that took place once he resisted arrest. Current police training is to take all measures to control and arrest the individual and if fired upon, end the situation as quickly as possible.

What would Andy Taylor have done – in this case? Possibly talk to Rayshard for an hour, just chattin’ away like Andy liked to do and then re-test him, at which point, his blood alcohol could be down to or below .08. Then perhaps have him go into Wendy’s to get his dinner, eat it there and then go home, by which time he would no longer be above the limit. Another approach after talking to him for a while would be have Rayshard go in and get his dinner and then the police drive him home and Rayshard could get his car the next day. That’s thinking like Andy Taylor, Peace Officer.

And for the future of policing, why they’re not widely using the BolaWrap https://wraptechnologies.com/ boggles my mind. Had they had this when Rayshard ran away, he would have been stopped, like with a spider-man spider web, he would be alive today, his daughter would still have her dad.

I’m not in favor of defunding the police and I applaud and support them for the tough job they have. I think there is room for peace officer training. I realize they do get training in how to de-escalate, they should also have some leeway in how to handle situations like in the case of Rayshard Brooks.

FOCM Brainstorming Assignment

Help in naming a beach condo is today’s crowd-sourcing brainstorming name creation assignment.

In a condominium complex called The Breakers are 4 buildings with 18 units in each building. The four buildings are A, B, C and D. The unit needing a name is unit C-4. I, because I know that C4 is a name of a plastic explosive, always add the tag line “it’s explosive” when I say C4. So when people ask me which unit is ours, I say “C4, its explosive”. Some people don’t get it and look confused, but I don’t care.

So FOCM Team Mission Impossible Branding/Name Generation: your mission if you choose to accept it is to post in the comments section, name ideas for a beach condo in Carolina Beach, in The Breakers complex, the unit C-4. Rules: any name is a good idea, no judging or responding negatively to other’s suggested names.

BEGIN!

Observations on a Virtual Conference in 2020

2020, the year of the COVID-19/Protests/Riots/Presidential Election and the year the clinical research industry’s annual convention went virtual.

The noteworthiness of this made me think to jot down my observations.

I have been attending DIA since 1997. That year it was held in Montreal. Last year was in San Diego, which is probably the best place to have it in terms of weather.  The conference is always in the 3rd or 4th week of June.  The heat and humidity in Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Boston has often been close to unbearable.

The biggest differences for me were:

  • I didn’t get to co-host the FOCM Networking event with my friends from Zymewire
  • I missed seeing everyone! Not seeing friends in person (this event is very much an industry reunion) and not getting to socialize with them makes it more difficult to maintain relationships
  • Seeing so few friends in the virtual exhibit hall (Thanks Adriana Grado, Cory Winters and Amy Zastawney for taking time to meet with me). Every year I make a point to walk the entire exhibit hall to make sure I see and catch up with as many people as I can and to see what new and innovative products and services are available
  • I didn’t stay out too late (there was no virtual Transperfect party or vendor parties of any kind)
  • I didn’t drink too much.
  • I didn’t have a Fireball shot at the Barrington James exhibit.
  • I didn’t welcome any new FOCM members and hold any card ceremonies (I’ll have to re-write the card ceremony SOPs – the handshake may have to be eliminated)
  • Here it is the last day and I’m not exhausted.

As I have often told people younger and/or with less conference experience than me, at DIA – you will stay out too late and drink too much.  I point out that you HAVE to do this (it might even be in the SOP binder), because if you don’t, it wouldn’t be the tradition that it is.

A couple months ago I held a virtual FOCM Networking event with about 10 industry friends. I asked them if DIA were to be held in person, who would travel to DC for it.  The answer was no one.  Comments made were: it’s too risky, I don’t want to get on a plane, stay in a hotel, take a cab or Uber and go to a conference with 5000+ people. 

We in this industry are proud of the role we’re playing and demonstrating to the world the value, the need and the method for discovering treatments for COVID-19. The need to utilize recent innovations in big data, AI, high throughput screening, lighten cumbersome regulatory hurdles will serve the world well for developing new treatments for all diseases.

Virtual FOCM Networking Events Review

During this Covid-19 Quarantine/Social Distancing, we’ve all seen an increase in the use of virtual meetings, virtual networking via videoconferencing tools.  Zoom, Hopin, GoogleMeet, FaceTime, Microsoft Teams, Free Conference Call are ones that I’ve been involved with to-date.

It is very interesting to hear how people are using these tools in a variety of clever ways. That’s the impressive nature of human-kind: creativity, innovation when circumstances impact us. 

I know of families having weekly Zoom calls to stay in touch. One includes playing a trivia game on each call, after catching up with everyone. Whoever wins the trivia game controls the questions for the next game. The Hopin (thanks GCPCafe and Nadia Bracken) tool has limits on the number of people who can be on camera at one time, while many more can participate via chat room to interact with the others.  This is good for interactive presentations by a few speakers. It also has a one-on-one video networking that I really enjoyed. You’re put into a “room” and are waiting for someone else to enter the “room” and then you see each other and start talking. It felt like meeting someone new at an industry conference reception without all the background noise and distractions.

I have held four FOCM virtual networking events using both Zoom and GoogleMeet. A friend said, ‘hey you’re the networking guy, you should be doing something during this time of isolation.’ I took it to heart and held events in the evenings on April 16, April 23, April 30 and May 13. Like I do when I would travel (remember that? – airplanes, hotels and rental cars?), I would email everyone I knew in the area to see who could meet up that night for drinks/dinner. So at first I held a FOCM event for the Philadelphia metro area, then for the Raleigh metro area, then the Boston metro area. It was about the April 30 Boston event, that I realized, I was no longer bound by geographic constraints. So the May 13 one was national (I did invite members from Europe, but it would have been 1 a.m. for them).

Attendance was taken, as per FOCM SOP:
April 16: Bryan Clayton, Dave Gibboni, Ryan Gibson, Chris McArthur, Chris McCracken, Pete Nieto, Mike Strand

April 23: Mike Burrows, Renee Brown, Brian Horan, Lauren Sherwood, Kate Mulllis (tried)- meeting minutes already published on www.focmnetworking.com/networking

April 30: Paul Bilden, Israel Bocanegra, Mike Burrows, Clint Craun, Scott Freedman, Brian Langin, Dan Weddle, Amy Zastawney
Observations: Two people had to exit early to attend other web calls, one for a birthday celebration – perhaps a glimpse of our future; night-time schedules of “virtual” meetings to stay in touch with friends, family and colleagues. I attended a friend’s birthday party on May 2 via Zoom.

May 13: 159 people were sent google calendar invitations, 111 never opened it (do that many people not receive google calendar invitations into their email inboxes?  24 said yes, 10 no and 14 maybe. There were some issues with people being able to talk and/or to see their faces.  We were on for an hour.  To manage it, we opened with a cheers! Then I called on people to share whatever they wanted on how they were coping or what they were learning. Using the chat feature I let the person who was up next know I’d be calling on them.  I know we didn’t get to everyone and I wish we had. It was great to see and hear from so many FOCM members.
Kevin Boos, Mike Burrows, Nadia Bracken, Renee Brown, Greg Cohee, Kevin Collier, Scott Freedman, Dave Gibboni, Heather Hollick, Askold Kozbur, Brian Langin, Jon Matheus, Chris McCracken, Lynne McKerlie, Karen McPoyle, Sarah Meister, Lorraine Mercer, Adrian Pencak, Roxann Pinguelo, Lauren Sherwood, Dan Weddle, Wayne Whittingham, Michael Williams.

Screen Grabs of the event were sent to me and they are shown below. The first one was sent to me with the subject line “ScreenGrab Tonight”. Proof that enjoyment of sarcasm and wit are fundamental to the FOCM code of behavior.

Screen Grab submitted by Dave Gibboni

I would like to hear of other interesting, unique, clever ways people are using these tools in this current time of reduced in-person gatherings. Use the comments box to share things you’re seeing or doing.

Screen Grab provided by Nadia Bracken
Screen Grab provided by Nadia Bracken
Dave Gibboni showing the Pixel by LabCorp self collection kit for Covid-19 testing

Minutes of Virtual FOCM Meeting #2

FOCM Virtual Meeting Minutes

Date April 23, 2020

7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Attendees:
Lauren Sherwood
Mike Burrows
Brian Horan
Renee Brown
Kate Mullis (tried)

The meeting was called to order at precisely 7:00 p.m. consistent with FOCM SOPs.  If there’s one thing that FOCM stands for it’s being on time.  No, no, that’s actually not true.  If there’s one thing FOCM stands for its socializing/networking.

The meeting was held via Zoom which I’m not familiar with using, such that when Kate Mullis tried to join, I didn’t notice the “Kate Mullis wants in, do you admit her or not” and she had to give up and put children to bed.  FOCM’s chairman vows to do better in the future.

It appears we’re all bearing up under the COVID-19 distancing and limited opportunities for going out other than walks, exercise, picking up take out, following the arrows at the grocery stores. There’s a definite reduction in new study start ups, but a lot of work and planning for how to handle ongoing clinical trials.  Decisions on new hiring are also delayed considerably.

Will the future of clinical trials be: a return to the way we were doing them with a gradual move toward reducing patient and site burden or will this be the disruption needed to make virtual/hybrid trials the new normal?

Continue washing your hands and staying away from people. I think based on my review of the data, bar graphs, the number of patients in clinical trials and the early reports finding beneficial effects from some of them that by May 8, we’ll be down to under 10,000 daily new cases.

COVID-19 Quarantine Update

Well, I admit it, my optimistic interpretation of the data was incorrect. I felt strongly that April 4 was the peak of new cases in the US and that stayed true until April 24 when we had a spike of 38,ooo+ new cases reported.

Perhaps that is due to broader availability of testing, which is finding more individuals who test positive for coronavirus. However, the optimist in me did find a brilliantly shining piece of good news – April 26 – the number of new cases reported was 26,509; the 4th lowest daily new cases since April 1.

But my prediction that we’d be dancing around the MayPole on May 1 will not be the case. Yes, some states will be easing restrictions on May 1, but not to the extent I’d hoped. We have to continue to be wise and listen to the scientists, review the data and go forward cautiously. 14 days from April 24 is May 8 and my new prediction (like economists know, if you keep changing your forecast, you’ll eventually be right) is that by May 8, we’ll be having 10,000 or fewer new daily cases. Be optimistic – let’s make optimism be contagious!

Networking while social distancing

The world certainly has changed in the last few months. A big part of life is our relationships and interactions with others. With quarantining and social distancing, that has blocked this part of our lives. Some might say that introverts are loving this time and some might be. More than likely their lives (work and personal) require some personal interaction and as such they’re also feeling some angst.

What it is doing is teaching us how to do things in new ways. Both at work and in my personal life, I’ve noticed a few things:

  • the use of Zoom, Google Hangouts, Free Conference Call, FaceTime and other virtual meetings wherein we can see each other; families I know of are having these weekly
  • Large conferences are holding their already planned meetings such that they’re all online, using the above tools as well as pre-recording content to air while allowing live interaction during the pre-recorded presentation
  • Interesting to note that this format actually appears to provide more intimate participation in the event – wherein some people wouldn’t ask a question in a room of 200 people, quite easy to type in your question into the message board tool
  • Connectability is still available – if you are watching a talk you like, while on the meeting, you can look at the speaker on LinkedIn, learn more about them and if valuable, send them a LinkedIn request.

I have held two virtual FOCM meetings so far;

  • one with the political wing of FOCM. There are 6-8 of us who have been emailing on political topics for probably 10 years. Two weeks ago we had a GoogleHangout, where some of us got to “see” each other for the first time.
  • the other with the Philadelphia metro FOCM chapter last week. We had about 8 attend.
  • I’m having one this Thursday with the Raleigh-Durham metro chapter.

The minutes of the Philadelphia FOCM meeting are:

Last night, the 16th day of April, 2020, a virtual FOCM Philadlephia area meeting was held via Google Hangout.In attendance: Pete Nieto, Dave Gibboni, Mike Strand, Bryan Clayton, Mark Eberhart, Christian McCracken, Chris McArthur, Ryan Gibson
Topics discussed: too much couple together time could result in strained marriages and possible divorce; alcohol consumption was visible (bts, the meeting was not recorded), predictions of return to the new normal (end of June was voiced), Arena International meetings status – virtual; DIA annual – virtual; BIO annual – virtual; ASCO annual – virtual.

While, in my opinion, we’re very close to moving to a policy of unquarantining everyone and quarantining only the at-risk, the symptomatic and those who test positive (as seen in my video blog below), some of these changes we’re being forced to make will continue and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Quarantine Day 27

April 4 is standing tall as the peak day of new coronavirus cases in the US. We’re now 8 days since that date. Looking at data from other countries, shows that in day 10 – 14 from peak the number of new daily cases is around 20% of the peak.

With over 2,000 patients in clinical trials of drugs that have solid promise based on pre-clinical data, those patients will likely be contagious for shorter periods of time reducing the transmissibility and blunting the number of new cases. Also, the prescribing of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin in early published trials shows elimination of the virus by day 5 whereas patients with no treatment are still positive for 10-12 days. This, too is probably a significant reason for the decline since April 4.

I truly believe pharmaceutical intervention is playing a big role in flattening the curve. Let’s remember that the US pharmaceutical industry is one of America’s greatest assets and is an important part of our excellent and effective healthcare system.

COVID-19 on the ropes

Well, as you know if you keep changing your prediction you’ll eventually be correct. I had optimistically hoped that the number of new cases would have peaked by March 31; however, I missed it by 5 days. The peak, I believe, occurred on April 4 and in analyzing other countries, by day 10 from the peak, the number of new daily cases will be halved.

Call me an optimist – because I am one. With so many patients being treated in clinical trials with several drugs and vaccines and the availability of the safe (on the market since 1955, side effects well known and manageable) hydroxychloroquine, either alone or in combination with azithromycin, the duration of illness is declining in thousands of patients. This reduces the time they’re contagious. That coupled with social distancing and warmer weather will soon have us back to our new normal.

I think we can all gather around the May pole on May 1 (no one seems to do this any more, do they?) and skip around it, singing, “I’d like to buy the world a coke”. I do recall skipping around a May pole in elementary school. What was the purpose? What is a May pole? Questions for another time perhaps. Or feel free to use the comments section to post a reply.

It is now time to unquarantine all of us and move to quarantining just those who test positive, those who have symptoms or who have had recent contact with someone who tested positive.

And let’s start buying stuff so heavily from one country, maybe even make stuff in America again. I’ve been looking for a toaster oven made in any country but China – no can find!