Late spring is a busy time on the annual conference circuit, as academics wind down the spring semester, and trade and professional organizations are able to do a mid-year review and forward-looking forecast of their field. So is the case with the annual meeting of the Drug Information Assn, (DIA), whose global meeting is being held this year in Boston on June 24-28. The meeting is expected to attract over 6,000 attendees, with representation from over 50 countries. An exhibition hall will attract some 450 exhibitors.
DIA stands in contrast to many of the other industry events, because while its annual meeting is at a scale comparable to the industry’s biggest events, it is a volunteer-run organization and without the professional affiliation of one line of work or academic specialty.
“The real value of attending the annual meeting is not just to learn more about the subject area you are involved in, but to learn about topics that might be adjacent to your work,” says Sandra Milligan, MD, JD, SVP, global regulatory affairs and clinical safety at Merck, and former chair of DIA. “At Merck, I manage a global staff of 2,000, and even with that vantage point within my organization, I still learn new things by attending DIA meetings.”
“We’re listening to our members all the time, trying to address how we can help members’ organizations be successful,” says Barbara Lopez Kunz, global chief executive of DIA. “The heartbeat of the organization is the volunteer involvement.”
This year’s meeting has a focus on dealing with the current opioid crisis in the US (the keynote speaker is Nora D. Volkow, MD, Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) at NIH); and there are 250 sessions across 12 tracks during the meeting. DIA’s origins were in medical writing and regulatory communications, eventually (in the 1990s) leading to the formation of the influential Clinical Data Interchange Standards Consortium (CDISC). Today, it defines its scope as spanning translational science and medicine, regulatory science, patient engagement and value & access—which, if you think about it, spans clinical research, regulatory interaction (regulatory approval and beyond), and commercial interests. Another emphasis of the 2018 meeting–again crossing the spectrum from clinical to commercial–is sessions on real-world evidence (RWE).
While there are not explicit career-development tracks at this meeting, the concept of professional development is embedded in the meeting’s structure, including continuing education credits and networking opportunities. “One of the things I look for in staff development at Merck is people who are looking outside their immediate area of expertise, who have the interest and ability to collaborate with other groups in our organization,” notes Milligan. “With DIA, you can get what you need at practically any stage in your career.”
Registration information for the upcoming meeting is available here.