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By Sneha Mascarenhas

Sneha Mascarenhas-finalAfter years studying pharmaceutics law, I returned to discovering, developing, and manufacturing pharmaceuticals. What simpler way to do that than a trip out to sunny Orlando for the 2015 AAPS Annual Meeting and Exposition? A member for years now, it was both familiar ground and novel territory. It was familiar in the sense that this is THE universal meeting for the world’s leading pharmaceutical scientists to convene, converse, and share insights about new learnings. Familiarity also came from the opening reception, the plenary sessions, awards, on-site registration and logistics support, exhibitor booths, presentations, posters, and coffee shops!

The meeting was novel in the sense that seldom have I heard a keynote by a teenage scientist detailing specifics about a diagnostic tool, for pancreatic cancer no less! Heartiest congratulations to Jack Andraka for sharing his experience, beginning with the sense of loss, the frustration of not having a remedy, the optimism that there is a solution, initial sacrifices, and the perseverance necessary to overcome the challenges.

Another innovation was the inaugural AAPS Foundation 5K, bright and early, which served as a reminder that the true solution to good health remains comprehensive including behavioral at a personal level, interventional therapy with medicines, and through physiologic modification at an institutional level. A focus on fitness despite our demanding schedules is as synergistic as those synergies we bring forward at work. Consequently I found the 5K, and my exploratory 10-mile trek on International Drive with repeating units of hotels, shopping complexes, and restaurants, surrounding tourist sites quite informative and healthy. The exercise permitted freedom to subsequently enjoy lavish meals, like the opening reception delights, champagne at an alumni reception, and a full slab of ribs at a local restaurant.

And while there were numerous other innovations, such as the Ignite sessions—where I heard AAPS Executive Council member Andy Vick speak—meeting the past, present, and future AAPS presidents (Till, Amidon, and DeSilva respectively) simultaneously, and the introduction of AAPS Open, the greatest innovation was live streaming. Benefiting from interdisciplinary human technological advances, live streaming efficiently permitted AAPS members’ access to information that was costly to develop. In an ever-evolving industry, live streaming offers an avenue into more conferences of choice than we can achieve real-time. In a business which thrives on innovation, and patents of limited duration, time is money and information is everything. Kudos to the team that introduced live streaming!

Regardless of the engagement, industrial or academic, the annual meeting brings harmony, reminding us perpetually that we are in the business of making medicines TOGETHER, serving society’s need for reliable breakthrough therapies at affordable costs. Caught in the demands of daily life, we sometimes forget the underlying nobility of the profession. Many thanks to AAPS for reminding us that we are very much the humans who have learned to fly without wings, and now seek to make our loved ones live 100 years!

Sneha Mascarenhas is a scientist, project manager, lawyer, and long-standing AAPS member who has served on numerous teams, committees, and boards which advance efforts to improve global health.