Autumn 2007
PSI 30th Annual Conference
In May of this year the annual conference of PSI (Statisticians in the Pharmaceutical Industry) was held at Carden Park Hotel, near Chester. The PSI conference brings together statisticians and programmers from pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, CROs, academia and regulatory authorities for three days of presentations, discussions and socialising.
The 30th annual conference started with a session on the past, present and future of pharmaceutical statistics. There followed a full programme of plenary sessions and parallel sessions, covering the drug development process from “Choosing the Right Dose” to “The Role of Statisticians in the Commercialisation of Pharmaceutical Research”. Technical sessions, such as “Fitting Non-linear Mixed Effects Models”, and practical sessions, such as “Managing Relationships with External Vendors” gave a good variety and there was the increasingly popular statistical computing day, now in its 4th year, covering topics including the new features of SAS 9.2 and the validation of SAS programs. The New Starters session gave the opportunity for PSI members with up to three years’ experience in the industry to meet and share experiences. Such a huge variety of topics meant there was something for everyone and made it difficult to decide which of the parallel sessions to attend.

One of my highlights of the conference was the Mock DSMB, organised and chaired by John Whitehead from the University of Reading. DSMBs are an important part of clinical trial monitoring and the session gave everyone an opportunity to experience a DSMB in action by watching a panel, including physicians and statisticians, take part in a role-playing exercise, followed by the opportunity for the audience to vote on the decision whether to stop, suspend or continue the trial.

The conference was a huge success, with 250 attendees over the three days learning from the excellent quality presentations and posters, participating in the discussion sessions and enjoying the social programme including a networking session, a talented magician, a quiz, the Gala Dinner and the annual golf tournament (unfortunately this year held in the pouring rain!).
The PSI Scientific Subcommittee and Special Interest Groups did an excellent job to organise such a successful, enjoyable event. Next year’s conference will be held in Brussels in May and will be a joint conference with EFSPI (The European Federation of Statisticians in the Pharmaceutical Industry).
Jo Waddington