This is the major UK pharmaceutical conference, and for this year the resumption of the 3-day meeting format meant that we had plenty of time to showcase the very best science in the field. However, there is never enough time for everything we want to do, and so the prioritisation of some key themes for this year was the first task for the APS UK PharmSci planning group. We decided to focus on sustainability and diversity for the meeting, and I think the breadth of topics and the range of speakers really did reflect these two key elements of what we do. From the outset, the opening plenary of Twan Lammers (Aachen) superbly indicated the importance of considering cancers as multiple diseases, and that therapies for cancers must address the huge range of genetic, phenotypic and patient-specific factors. The second plenary from Rachel Elliott (Manchester) gave some fascinating insights into health economics, and how if we want to make healthcare affordable, accessible and sustainable, we need to think from the outset about full costs and benefits analyses. Rachel also showed how complex it can be to evaluate benefits with multiple competing stakeholders, payers and providers, but that we must do so properly to ensure that we meet the needs of patients into the future. We had three outstanding lectures from our award winners Clive Roberts (Nottingham) , Abdul Basit (UCL) and Clare Hoskins (Keele/Strathclyde), and packed lecture theatres throughout the excellent parallel sessions organised by the APS Focus Groups. We also pioneered ‘Expert Reviews’ and a Debate on Open Access publishing for this year’s meeting, with overviews of Antibody Drug Conjugates from Mark Frigerio (Abzena) and Immunotherapies from Robin Shattock (Imperial), and panel discussions led by David Jones (Queen’s Belfast) and Anne-Marie Pordon (Elsevier). These proved very popular and promoted much discussion well into the social events!
In addition to the excellent venue in Greenwich, we had great support from the team at Profile Productions and from our University of Greenwich hosts. I also want to thank all the APS Board and Advisory Board, and especially Fran Greco, Mark McAllister and Carol O’Connor for all the exceptional hard work they contributed. The highlights for me at the meeting were the interactions with this team, and most of all, the real ‘buzz’ of scientists at all career stages around the posters, the lecture halls, the BBQ and of course at The Painted Hall…. I am sure UK PharmSci 2020 in Belfast will build on the great atmosphere we had in Greenwich this year and I look forward to seeing you all there!”
By Cameron Alexander
Conference Science Chair