University of Wisconsin–Madison

August Land O’ Lakes: Planning and Executing a Successful Conference

The Planning Committee

The August Land O’ Lakes planning committee has many professionals from industry who were so impressed by this conference that they wanted to be more involved. All committee members have attended the conference, and know what makes this conference so special. Many were so passionate about the topics that they chose to join the planning committee:

“I noticed that there was no representation from my company at the planning committee and the topics were just outstanding. I truly enjoyed that conference and it just motivated me right at the conference to actually approach the organizers and say ‘Hey you know I noticed that there was no one from my company here, I would really like to get involved’ and that’s how it all started.” Ivelisse Colon-Rivera, PhD, Vertex Pharmaceuticals

The committee members are dedicated to facilitating collaboration and solving problems in the industry. They feel that the August Land O’ Lakes Conference is the best size and setting to do so.

Not only are they passionate about the topics and the conference, but they also come from many different roles across the field:

“The planning committee is composed of people who are in industry, who are CRO’s, who are academia and we actually had somebody on the FDA, so they’re all looking at the industry from a different angle” Elizabeth Hewitt, MS, Takeda Pharmaceuticals International, Inc. 

This diversity is important to give scientists a holistic view of the process.

Planning the Conference

As the committee members work within the industry, they are attuned to the common challenges that need to be addressed.  They do not solely rely on their opinions alone but they also strive to bring in topics that will be relevant and useful to all their industry peers.

“We will try to understand what is going on in the industry and what are the challenges that we are facing at the time of the conference” Madhavi Srikoti, MS, Bristol-Myers Squibb

Attendee feedback is also a valuable source for conference content. Committee members interact with attendees during the conference for ideas. They also thoroughly consider the attendee suggestions made on the conference evaluation forms.

“I think its an important part of the conference that we do base our agenda on the feedback from others, what they really want to hear. We’re not simply picking what is important to us as planning committee members” Susan Lerke, PhD, Johnson & Johnson

Once they have an idea of what topics people want to hear, they will meet to refine those topics into an agenda that will best facilitate learning. The committee always strives for a comprehensive framework for the topic that will give attendees perspectives from all sides of the issue. With control strategies, they sought to cover how it is implemented into the drug development process throughout every step.

Control Strategies

This year’s topic was Analytical Considerations for a Comprehensive Control Strategy. The goal was to highlight the importance of incorporating control strategies into every step of the development process not just the final product specification.

“We kicked it off by talking about how does a control strategy evolve. So we started very high level with defining how a control strategy is more than just a final specification. These days people are building quality into their processes in the very beginning so we set the stage by explaining control strategies by introducing people to different control strategies.” Elizabeth Hewitt, MS, Takeda Pharmaceuticals International Co.

Learning about all stages of development regardless if you normally work in drug substance or product can be very beneficial.

“When attendees are attending the session they will get the whole spectrum of the early phase and how it carries through the whole development process. In any area that the scientist is working they will get some perspective of the whole process so they will understand from A to Z….It’s a very good advantage to get the whole understanding about the control strategy and overall development process” Madhavi Srikoti, MS, Bristol-Myers Squibb

Plenary sessions discussed the topics of technological applications for control strategies, control strategies for complex drug products, control strategies with method transfer and regulatory considerations for global control strategies.

Diving Deep Into the Topics

 Land O’ Lakes doesn’t just scratch the surface, it dives deep into topics to give a 360 degree view of the subject. Some unique topics related to Control Strategies that were discussed were Method Validation, Dissolution Specifications, Combination Products, Pediatrics and a workshop to tie everything together.

A hot topic at the conference was dissolution specifications. Andre Hermans from Merck gave a presentation titled “Opportunities, Approaches and Challenges of Developing Clinically Relevant Dissolution Specifications”:

“I talked about approaches, how to establish and what the challenges are with clinically relevant dissolution specifications. I’ve been working on that topic for a couple years within Merck and what really gets me excited about it is that dissolution is one of those tests where we look at how the dosage form dissolves in the laboratory but we don’t really know whether that has impact on how it works in patients. In theory it should but this specific topic of clinically relevant dissolution specification explores exactly that relationship between the tests that we’re doing in the laboratory and how it would affect our patients” Andre Hermans, PhD, Merck & Co. 

Another topic that was heavily discussed was control strategy for combination products:

“When it comes to combination projects, because you are working with more than one API and putting them together, setting a control strategy could be pretty challenging.  The session that I moderated was specifically for multiple combination drugs as one dosage form and what are the challenges that we face when we have the combination product and how we have to look into those challenges and change our control strategies to serve the whole drug product lifecycle. So its a huge part of the drug development process as we are getting to have one dosage form for multiple combinations” Madhavi Srikoti, MS, Bristol-Myers Squibb

The workshop on CRO/CMO interaction was another highly anticipated part of the conference. Attendees discussed their previous good and bad experiences when working with CRO/CMO’s and how to best open the lines of communication when working with a CRO/CMO. Workshops are when the most discussion happens at these conferences and attendees can have productive discourse about issues and how to remedy them.

Why Attend Land O’ Lakes?

The most compelling reason to choose a Land O’ Lakes conference is the excellent learning environment. The smaller size and single track style ensures more discussion and networking than is possible at large conferences. Attendees are in the same group the whole time and have many opportunities to interact with each other. The speakers are also very accessible and have ample time for Q&A sessions after their presentations. Speakers are also available during networking time for further discussion.

“Attendees will benefit by benchmarking, by figuring out what other people are doing at the conference, how does that relate to what they’re doing, are there things that they could be tweaking, are they hearing feedback from health authorities they didn’t realize. It’s basically a two way communication I find, hearing speakers talking to other people in the program and asking the right questions that you want to know and taking that information back” Elizabeth Hewitt, MS, Takeda Pharmaceuticals International Co.

Networking events are always incorporated into the schedule to allow attendees to make connections and get to know their colleagues better. On the second night of the conference, attendees visited the Wisconsin Brewery to sample beer and learn how it is produced. The next night featured a poster session with food and drink for attendees to mingle and enjoy their colleague’s research.

“Because its a smaller more intimate conference compared to larger meetings that happen within the industry, I feel like I really get know people from across the industry, you learn about different practices and how things are being approached. I think it’s a lot of the social activities like going to the brewery last night was fantastic for networking and just meeting a lot of great people” Andre Hermans, PhD, Merck & Co. 

If you are looking to learn about the latest research, discuss industry problems and make new connections consider attending a Land O’ Lakes conference during summer 2019! Attendees ranked their choice of topics for next year’s Pharmaceutical Analytical conference and the topics in consideration are: Global Regulatory Challenges, Current Challenges to Pharmaceutical Analysis and New Technologies/Lab Efficiency. We look forward to zeroing in on these topics next year. The dates of next year’s conference are August 12-15, 2019. Subscribe to our email list for more information.

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