Recently I had the pleasure of attending and presenting at the 3rd Annual Anti-Infectives Summit in Philadelphia. It was a good opportunity to interact and see presentations by people from medicinal chemistry, biochemistry, regulatory, and other backgrounds involved in drug discovery and research. I don’t deal much these days with the preclinical perspective, so it was a refreshing change of pace. I always appreciate the chance for cross-pollination of ideas with people from different areas.
There were a number of particularly good presentations, and one common theme that I saw was the borderline-inspiring enthusiasm by the researchers. You can always tell when someone truly loves what they do and is genuinely excited by their work – and I definitely saw that. Notables included Ying Zhang, MD, PhD, from Johns Hopkins, who opened my eyes in his presentation on issues with persister bacteria and Jennifer Schranz, MD from Cempra, who gave a great overview on the FDA’s expectations for clinical trials. She took what could have been a dry topic and infused it with energy and pace – I wish I could poach her to guest lecture in one of our drug information courses on this topic.
Something else that came out of the presentations was the increased emphasis on PROs (patient reported outcomes) in clinical trials. Considering that the immediate past-director of the NIH (Elias Zerhouni) made a statement about the increasing importance of the participatory medicine model…I think it was just a question of “when”, not “if”. That point spurred several interesting chats about PROs, ePatients, Phase IV, and the development of Pharmacovigilance 2.0.
Overall it was a very positive experience. I enjoyed some science refereshers, regulatory navigation tips, and insight into the future of anti-infective drug development.
Edit: I used an audience response system (aka clickers) in my presentation and included those slides here. However, I did not use the actual attendees’ responses in the slide deck I uploaded.
I was recently catching up on the excellent Science-Based Pharmacy blog and came across a post about this simply fantastic comic strip on homeopathy. It’s not a comic strip in the normal sense of the phrase, it’s almost like a pared down version of a graphic novel. It does an amazing job of using visuals to help tell the story of, and describe the process behind, homeopathic ‘medicine’.
I poked around and found a comic series that resonated with me even more that Darryl Cunningham (@DarrylToon) did about Andrew Wakefield and the MMR vaccine. It’s just really brilliant work and well worth clicking on and checking out.
Finally, Cunningham has written and illustrated the graphic novel Psychiatric Tales: Eleven Graphic Stories About Mental Illness (following a UK edition). It has generated a lot of pre-release buzz as well as some great reviews. From the description:
…draws on Darryl Cunningham’s time working in a psychiatric ward to give a reasoned and sympathetic look into the world of mental illness. In each chapter, Cunningham explores a different mental health problem, using evocative imagery to describe the experience of mental illness, both from the point of view of those beset by illness and their friends and relatives. As Cunningham reveals this human experience, he also shows how society’s perceptions of and reactions to mental illness perpetuate needless stigma…
Despite the glowing words, I have no vested interest in this art. I just think it has a spark of genius in its (deceptively) elegant simplicity and should be shared.