Perspective from a Scripps Research Graduate: Five Reasons You Should Be Attending DIA 2019 June 23-27 in San Diego

Guest Author: Sudip Parikh, Senior Vice President & Managing Director, Americas at DIA Global*

I had a great experience as a Scripps Research graduate student in La Jolla. After graduating, I moved to the east coast and had the opportunity to work on the United States Senate Appropriations Committee, where I learned how much my graduate research, and its funding, had been guided by what happens in Washington, DC. Currently, I work for the Drug Information Association, a 55-year-old organization that covers drug development from scientific discovery through patient access.

I?m excited to come back to San Diego, as the region also sits at the interface between drug discovery and development, with more companies progressing into the clinic than ever. Looking back at my early career in San Diego, I wish someone had told me why I should attend DIA?s annual meeting so I would have understood how to focus my research for greater impact on human health. DIA 2019 has so much to offer San Diego researchers and biotech professionals, and I?ve distilled the highlights into my top 5 reasons to attend, below.

Five Reasons to Attend DIA in San Diego June 23-27:

  1. Get Thought Leaders? Perspectives. Our honorary Co-Chairs represent thought leadership from the agencies regulating the drug development process and the organizations advancing exciting new therapeutics. Meeting Co-Chair Professor Guido Rasi, MD, is the Executive Director of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), and will give a global perspective on the drug approval landscape. Co-Chair Joanne Waldstreicher, MD, is the Chief Medical Officer at Johnson & Johnson, where she has a pivotal role in overseeing the safety and epidemiology of pharmaceuticals, devices, and consumer products for safety, epidemiology, clinical and regulatory operations transformation. The co-chairs, along with DIA leadership, will begin the meeting with a plenary DIAmond session and have focused the event on two main topics: advanced therapies and data, which are described in more detail below.
  2. Learn the Latest on Advanced Therapies. When I was a graduate student at Scripps Research, technologies such as CRISPR and gene therapy were not even discussed. DIA2019 will feature a keynote from Gary H. Gibbons, MD, Director, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) at the National Institutes of Health. NHLBI-funded research includes the development of advanced therapies such as gene therapy for sickle cell disease as well as novel therapies for cystic fibrosis. Dr. Gibbons will discuss highlights of NHLBI-funded research, as well as the data used to develop these new therapies. The program is full of important lessons learned from the development and commercialization of advanced therapies such as biologics, precision medicines, gene therapy, and the emerging field of gene editing.
  3. Dive Into Data. San Diego research centers and genomics companies have been a big driver in the unprecedented levels of DNA sequencing and personal health data being generated. Learn about the data that is used to determine whether a drug is safe, and how new digital tools and artificial intelligence/machine learning will change the process. You?ll also see how statistics and visualization tools that you may be familiar with, such as R, are used in the drug development process, and improve your skills in using them. Of equal importance is the ethics of data collection and utilization. Who owns a person?s biological data, and what is our responsibility to protect their privacy and to potentially reimburse patients or contributors?
  4. Plot Your Path. When I was a graduate student, I had no idea about the path a drug candidate would take to become a medicine. When you add current issues associated with advanced therapies, as well as options for developing drugs internationally, there are at the same time great challenges and opportunities. At DIA 2019, you can choose from any number of workshops ranging from artificial intelligence in drug discovery and development to administering clinical trials internationally. You can learn how to lead and work effectively on a drug development team, and how to use social media to build your personal brand. Pre-conference short courses (additional fee) and DIA 2019?s interactive conference sessions (see details below) are great places to learn. In addition, walking the exhibit hall will also be a great opportunity to learn firsthand from more than 400 pre-clinical and clinical contract research organizations and providers.
  5. Network, Network, Network. While DIA 2019 is a large meeting, we?ve gone to great lengths to ensure that meaningful interactions are made between attendees. We?ve hired experts who specialize in interactions to structure DIA meetings to maximize connections between attendees. The key is interactive sessions with 30-100 attendees, which makes large DIA events much less intimidating, even for bench scientists. Check out the schedule and look for the Content Hubs, Engage-Exchange, Professional Development, and Networking-Community Events subsections (use the color-coded filter on the right). Also check out the networking schedule and note the Monday morning meeting orientation and that San Diego Convention Center?s Sails Pavilion is a dedicated networking space, with round table discussions to be announced soon. At DIA 2018 in Boston, 240 representatives from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) attended, as well as many representatives from international regulatory agencies, so you?ll make great connections.

DIA 2019 is also very affordable for startups, virtual companies, and academics alike, especially when you consider the professional and career development opportunities. In addition, registration for DIA 2019 includes a DIA membership so you can benefit from our resources all year long, check out the registration rates and discounts. The west coast can feel like it?s a ?world away? from regulatory agencies in Washington, DC, and beyond. Attending DIA 2019 in your own back yard is more cost effective than travelling to meet with these organizations. Even if you don?t yet have a drug ready for development, the connections you?ll make are priceless.

I?m looking forward to helping advance California drug discovery and development by hosting DIA 2019 in San Diego. I hope to see some of my Scripps Research colleagues at the event, as well.

*Content sponsored by Drug Information Association, Inc.?