By Annette Bak, Ph.D., M.B.A., AAPS President
Like so many, I became an AAPS member during graduate school based on my advisors’ excellent foresight that a connection to the science community is vitally important in terms of sharing science and building a network. And they were right – the AAPS community has been (and still is) “front-and-center” in shaping me as a drug delivery scientist and a strategic leader.
That brings me to the question what is the AAPS community? It has definitely changed over the years. While North America is still the largest membership base, 15% is located outside this region notably in Europe and Asia. We also have volunteer leaders in 16 countries and student chapters and discussion group globally. In recognition of the global nature of Pharmaceutical science AAPS has also evolved from being local and centered around the annual meeting to being global with year round offerings.
In 2018, AAPS transitioned the way member scientists interact into online community to facilitate better collaboration across the science community and being more inclusive for the diversity of science that comes from members outside the U.S., I was in Europe at the time and the electronic communities allowed me to fully participate in AAPS at a significant time zone difference.
I think of the communities as my network of thousands of scientific specialists right at my fingertips and have used them many times for quick responses to non-confidential technical questions. You may also have seen that throughout the year I have taken regular surfs of all the community, and perused the rich diversity of meeting content, contributions to journals, discussion post, comments on guidance and more. I realize the transition has been difficult, but it is needed for full local & global inclusivity, so I greatly appreciate your efforts in the communities.
In 2020, it was time to update the AAPS strategy looking forward to 2021-2026 and naturally the question came up “how we best cater to a diverse global community?” We ended up creating a strategic goal on “Strengthen Strategic Networks and Partnerships to Expand AAPS’ Global Reach”, a goal that is about further building networks and partnerships to pull in multidisciplinary scientists (wherever they may be located) to increase science diversity in AAPS to the benefits of all members. Strategic objectives and working groups under this goal will kick off soon.
But you should not wait for the objectives to kick-off or complete. When you get to PharmSci360 in Boston, please reach out and welcome our global membership to the meeting, as many will be traveling to the meeting. The global science audience at the meeting will bring a fertile ground for creative and productive discussions as science multiplies when you share it with others. These diverse viewpoints generate more creative ideas is also well documented in psychology literature. I am also looking forward to meeting members from many different cultures on a personal note. I have travelled extensively myself across my career especially between US and Europe. Embracing the culture diversity has taught me how to listen attentively to other people and not make assumptions that I was right and they were wrong if I did not immediately get from the interaction what I wanted, hence grow as a leader.
Looking forward to seeing you in Boston. Unsurprisingly, the global nature of (pharmaceutical) scientists has made it into the agenda. On the science side you can find programming on global learnings from the COVID pandemic related to delivery system selection, immune responses, and other therapies to be used in a global health setting just to name a few. On the career side we can learn from topics such as DEI in a global workplace. I will of course also make many community meetings and look forward to seeing you all in person in October.
2022 AAPS President