Meeting Summary of FOCM & GLSA Event

So, it finally happened, on that glorious day which shall long be remembered, these minutes will be heretofore submitted to the USA Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institute and for reasons unknown, to the Sydney Opera House on the northside bulletin board for public postings.

On May the 20, in the year 2021 of the Gregorian calendar, it was noted that the GLSA (Global Life Sciences Alliance) and FOCM (Friends of Chris Matheus) Networking organization did hold an online (virtual) networking event. The meticulously planned event went terribly awry when but half of the positive RSVPs failed to show up.  That said, it was a resounding success for the initial such event.  A total of 22 attended.

The meeting started off with an acknowledgement that it was Global Clinical Trials Day and a toast was given to the clinical research industry for saving the world from Covid-19 and to James Lind, the Scottish doctor who initiated the first controlled randomized clinical trial on May 20, 1747 aboard a sailing ship. Dr. Lind divided twelve sailors sick with scurvy into six groups of two. They all received the same diet but, in addition, each group was given a different treatment. Only the two sailors who received citrus fruits improved and returned to work.

Chris then introduced the GLSA members to the FOCM community.  After a bit of general discussion, several polls were taken. About half of the group is reluctant to resume conference travel immediately, preferring to wait a few more months. Slightly more than half have been vaccinated or acquired immunity through catching the virus. An interesting opinion was voiced that perhaps as members of the clinical research industry, we should set the example by all being vaccinated.  I, for one and I believe I speak for many of the others have the utmost confidence that not a step was missed, not a shortcut taken in the development of the available vaccines.  Given the prioritization and urgency of vaccine development, we were able to speed up the data review process. The one thing that the sped up development lacked is longer term safety and side effect data.  However, vaccine side effects rarely (I can’t think of any) change the longer from the time of injection.

Then it was time for speed networking!  The assertion has been made by Chris that each of us in the clinical research industry are within 2 degrees of separation from each other. We had 4 different sessions.  Attendees were randomly put into different “rooms” with the assignment to each introduce themselves to the group, sharing where they’d worked the previous 10-20 years and what they’re doing now to see if they could identify who they knew in common.  Good information was exchanged and several new connections were made which can improve the management of clinical trials.

Join us next month – June 16.

Attendees:
David Holland, Cmed Research
Jon Matheus, Pancrazi Real Estate
Sheila Mahoney-Jewels, Life Science Hub
Eric Nier, Block Clinical
Lynne Becker, Power of Patients
Nadia Bracken, Medidata
Christine Ver Straate, GLSA
Mitchell Efros, Verified Clinical Trials
Cassandra Hui, HealMary
Denise McNerney, GLSA
Joe Buser, GLSA
Tom Ryan, GLSA
Kalyan Ghosh, Inference Inc
Marty Frazier, GLSA
Tanusree Bhattacharyya, Inference Inc
Zulma Varela, GLSA
Mike O’gorman, Life Science Marketplace
David Gibboni, DJGibboni Consulting
Eric Mayer, EDP Biotech
Craig Fernandes, EDP Biotech
Maria Frane, C3 Research

FOCM Friendsgiving Wine Tasting Event

FOCM is all about connecting with each other for fun, mutual benefit and to be helpful to others.  On December 9, 2020 we held a virtual fundraiser, wine tasting and networking event.

FOCM values connections be they new or old. This event certainly crossed that spectrum. The idea for the event – wine, charity and networking – came about from a LinkedIn post that I saw from Amy Berwick. I first met Amy in 1998 when we both worked at Quintiles (nka IQVIA). Amy’s post had to do with the role she had taken on with OneHope Wines and I wanted to find out more and catch up with her. I knew I wanted to do a year end virtual FOCM networking event and thought this might be a fun option.

I met (virtually, of course) with Amy and her OneHope colleague, Shelby Wildgust and learned that in addition to 10% of the wine purchased supports the charity of my choosing, each individual bottle purchased supports a non-profit cause (e.g.; pet adoption, military veterans, reforestation…). I decided this is the event I wanted to have.

When they asked me what charity I’d like to support, I said the Jeffrey Coombs Memorial Foundation. http://www.jeffcoombsfund.org/blog/ This foundation was started by Christie Schmitt Coombs in memory of her husband who died in the 9/11 terrorist attack on America. The Jeff Coombs Foundation was formed to assist Massachusetts families who are in financial need because of a death, illness or other situation that challenges the family budget. I’ve known Christie for 45 years. We both grew up in Yuma, AZ, went to Kofa High School and the University of Arizona.

A screen shot from early in the event. Photography credit to Amy Matheus.

Attendees and in parentheses, how long I’ve known them were:
Deb Jendrasek (15 years), Shelby Wildgust (1 month), Jeff Gould (4 months), Michael D’Amico (3 months), Jon Matheus (his whole life), Zulma Varela (2 months) Christie Schmitt (45 years), Denise McNerney (6 months), Mike Strand (~15 years), Jenny Neurath (my whole life), Greg Cohee (~15 years), Susan Cook (2 years), Amy Berwick (22 years), Wayne and Kay (1 hour), Lauren Sherwood (3 years), Sean (1 hour) and Robin Whitsell (3 years), Amy Matheus (her whole life), Jamison Lloyd (2 years), Lindsay Goldman (her whole life), Nathan Goldman (9 years), Thomas Goldman (3 years), James Goldman (48 hours less than his whole life).

Amy and Shelby made it easy to manage. They drafted the email and messaging content for me to review, they set up the OneHope website specifically to track our fundraising progress and we used their zoom account. We tasted 3 different wines:
1. The Vintner Collection Sauvignon Blanc – this bottle helps reforestation, so far, ONEHOPE has been able to plant over 100,000 trees through the sale of this wine.   
2. The Vintner Collection Red Blend – this is a 96 point Award Winning wine that funds Team Rubicon, an organization aimed to reunite Veterans with a sense of purpose in civilian life.   
3. The Vintner Collection Pinot Noir – this is a 90 point Award Winning wine that has funded over 96,000 pet adoptions! 
Purchases made up until January 8 contribute toward the fundraising goal we’d set. Here is the event link to make purchases:   https://www.onehopewine.com/event/a366bd14-e43d-446e-94d9-6c44efeae9d9

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.