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.