|Susan Cantrell, DIA director of North America|
There was a lot to look forward to at DIA 2013, the association’s 49th Annual Meeting. With 450 exhibitors, over 7,000 attendees, and speakers such as FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, Dr. Michael Rosenblatt, EVP and chief medical officer at Merck, and Daniel Kraft, executive director of FutureMed, I hoped for an engaging and informative event. I am happy to say the organizers did not disappoint.
The show floor was a busy place following the keynote address on Monday morning, and stayed that way for the next three days. I and the rest of the Life Science Connect team had the opportunity to attend numerous sessions and interact with many end users like you. The numerous meetings scheduled throughout the day, and the many after-hour receptions kept us busy most days. All of the attendees we spoke with were pleased with the quality of the sessions and their interactions with vendors.
“One of the things we saw this year was a large number of new exhibitors who have not attended our meetings in the past,” says Susan Cantrell, DIA director of North America. “We feel this presented new partnering opportunities for attendees. Many of these companies were from the technology and IT space, including diagnostics, imaging, and supply chain, and distribution.”
There were several new additions to this year’s meeting that Cantrell felt were well received by attendees, including the Alzheimers therapeutic track and the rare/orphan disease movies on Tuesday and Wednesday evening (RARE and Here.Us.Now.) DIA also continued its Patient Fellowship Program, started in 2011, which provides scholarships for patients to attend the annual meeting and engage with drug sponsors and clinical research organizations. Twenty-one organizations at the meeting represented many more patients who were unable to attend. In addition, the Patient Fellowship Alumni Program also welcomed back many patients from last year, some who opted to attend even without scholarship assistance.
Facilitating greater partnering opportunities was a focus this year, and Cantrell notes there were numerous changes made to make it easier for individuals to meet. Modifications were made to the exhibit floor hours, a mobile app made it easier for attendees and exhibitors to find and schedule appointments with each other, and business suites were available for rent on the floor.
If this year’s show had more of an international feel to it than in the past, that was also by design. “This year we had a Canadian breakfast, a Japan lunch, a Latin American breakfast, and an Asian evening event featuring China and Taiwan,” says Cantrell. “I believe that international feel was evident on the show floor as well, with representatives of numerous countries taking part in the show, including bioskin GmbH, Asia CRO Alliance, EPS Corporation, and Queensland Clinical Trials Network. We expect to continue to have more international events taking place at future shows.”
If you enjoyed DIA 2013, expect next year’s meeting to be even bigger and better. In 2014 in San Diego, DIA will be hosting its 50th Annual Meeting. While the event is still 12 months away, a year-long celebration is beginning now and will culminate with an unparalleled meeting worthy of DIA and its members.
“We are planning a pretty big celebration,” notes Cantrell. “Richard Day, a past DIA president, is heading up the task force that will be responsible for developing and implementing a plan to commemorate our 50th anniversary. We’re expecting him to land an amazing speaker and to assist in organizing some unforgettable events. I can’t give too many details at this time, but I can tell you we will recognize the rich history of the DIA and will also provide a look into the future of the organization. Our goal is to celebrate the past and at the same time invent the future. The 49th Annual Meeting provided more content to our members and attendees than ever before. What’s in store for the 50th is going to be even greater.