Get Involved Through Mentoring

Sharing with you a mentorship program I’ve gotten involved with at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.  FuseCR (Center for Clinical Research Workforce Development) is a collaborative designed to connect UNCW with the field of clinical research.  FuseCR is providing  local clinical research talent with powerful career and industry enhancing services.  One such program is MentorCR which pairs undergraduate students majoring in clinical research with experienced industry professionals in a formal, structured partnership.

My mentee is Keith Reid, https://www.linkedin.com/in/keithtreidjr/ .  Keith is a Junior in the Bachelor’s Degree in Clinical Research program.  While going to UNCW, Keith works as an Advanced EMT at New Hanover Regional Medical Center.  Like many others in the clinical research industry, Keith feels drawn to this as a career having lost both his grandfather and father to heart disease at the age of 50.

Keith and I will meet monthly or more often as needed.  Given my passion for connecting people, some of you can expect to hear from me requesting some of your time to talk with Keith on career path options and to share your experience and perspective.

The UNCW Clinical Research degree program is impressive in preparing students for entering into the clinical research industry.  Keith has already completed the following certifications:

  • Medidata Classic Rave EDC Essentials for clinical research coordinators | March 2019
  • TransCelerate Essential Documents | February 2019
  • TransCelerate IRB/IEC Responsibilities & Informed Consent | February 2019
  • TransCelerate Facilities & Equipment | November 2018
  • TransCelerate Investigator Oversight Informational Program | November 2018
  • TransCelerate Delegation & Training | October 2018
  • Medidata EDC Inspection Readiness for Clinical Sites | June 2018
  • CITI Biomedical Research Certification | 2018

For more information on UNCW FuseCR and the MentorCR program, read on or go to the links shown.

FuseCR (Center for Clinical Research Workforce Development) is a collaborative designed to ignite a new synergy between UNCW and the field of clinical research. By fusing resources and knowledge from academia and industry, FuseCR is energizing the local clinical research talent with powerful career and industry enhancing services.

https://uncw.edu/chhs/community/fusecr/index.html

  • Build Connections between Academia and Industry
  • Enhance Our Existing Workforce
  • Prepare Students for the Workplace
  • Educate the Next Generation of Talent

The general objectives of these programs and services are as follows:

FuseCR was formed by UNCW faculty from the School of Nursing’s Clinical Research Program and the Math and Statistics Department, in partnership with the NC Biotechnology Center Southeastern Office and the NC Coast Clinical Research Initiative.  This project was partially funded by a grant from the Duke Energy Foundation to strengthen the workforce for the local clinical research industry.

MentorCR for Industry Professionals: FuseCR Mentoring ProgramMentorCR pairs undergraduate students majoring in clinical research with experienced industry professionals in a formal, structured partnership. Engagement opportunities and leadership seminars are offered to further the student’s careers and the industry professional’s mentorship skills, while building professional relationships within the clinical research industry.

https://uncw.edu/chhs/community/fusecr/mentor.html

Mentors meet with their students 2-3 times per month and have opportunities to attend leadership seminars to further their careers while building networks within the industry. This program advances UNCW’s goal of workforce development in health-related fields for our regional community and provides crucial applied learning opportunities for our clinical research students.

Mentors have the opportunity to:

  • Support UNCW students by orienting them to the industry and helping them to build networks
  • Help the local economy by preparing better trained students
  • Experience the personal and professional benefits of being a mentor

FOCM Networking Event Meeting Minutes

May 9 found me in Durham, NC for a date with Durham Traffic Court the morning of the 10th. As you know, any excuse for meeting up with friends is kinda my life’s mission.

Notification was sent out to 63 people via Google calendar. 24 people opened the calendar invitation and responded with yes, no or maybe. I believe we had 13 attend. By the time we thought to take a picture, a few had already left. The location was Boxcar Bar & Arcade on Foster Street in Durham.

In attendance were: Don Alexander, Cynthia Edwards, David and Jaclyn Holland, Eric Nier, Gail Fowler, Kris Gustafson, Hillary Whittaker, Lauren Sherwood, Tim Sauls, Jeff Blum, Duncan Shaw and representing the PA Chapter, Vicky Martin.

L to R: Jeff Blum, Duncan Shaw
Me, Tim Sauls, Vicky Martin

Idiocy Exemplified

So the formerly nice city to visit, San Francisco has decided that new language is needed to describe people who commit crimes. The reason is new words will help change people’s views about those who break the laws of our society.

So now in San Francisco they are getting rid of the words: offender, addict and convicted felon. Those words are replaced with “justice-involved person.” I kid you not! The justice system doesn’t get involved with you until you commit a crime.

But wait, there’s even more stupidity: a convicted felon or an criminal released from custody will be known as a “formerly incarcerated person,” or a “justice-involved” person or just a “returning resident.” So will they change job applications to ask: Have you ever been a returning resident? If yes, from where did you return? Was it a place of some level of confinement? an abode in which detention was practiced and mobility was somewhat constrained?

A juvenile “delinquent” will now be called a “young person with justice system involvement,” or a “young person impacted by the juvenile justice system.” Right, the juvenile justice system impacted this young person. The young person broke the law, bringing the impact of the justice system onto himself.

Is it just me or isn’t the easiest and best way to avoid being labeled a criminal is to not commit a crime in the first place?

One of the great things about the American government is we allow cities and states to make some of their own decisions and then the rest of us can watch the experiment – like states legalizing marijuana or cities passing $15 minimum wage laws. To me this seems like a silly waste of time, but lets see if making criminals seem less evil makes a difference.

The Human Race

I was inspired to write this because of my dear friend from college, Arturo Coppola. He described someone as being “racist” because that individual said to an American of Latino descent to “speak English” instead of Spanish. That got me to doing research on “race”.

Wikipedia breaks the human race into three races: African, Oriental and Caucasian and acknowledges that there are multiple ethnicities. A mid 20th century American anthropologist, Carleton S. Coon made the case that there are 5 races:

  • Caucasoid (White) race.
  • Negroid (Black) race.
  • Capoid (Bushmen/Hottentots) race.
  • Mongoloid (Oriental/ Amerindian) race.
  • Australoid (Australian Aborigine and Papuan) race

Yet further research and information reveals that the categorization is rather arbitrary and essentially baseless. They call it a social construct. I had to look that up to see if its what I thought it meant and it does – something made up – social construct is an idea or notion that appears to be natural and obvious to people who accept it but may or may not represent reality, so it remains largely an invention or artifice of a given society

From Wikipedia (links to sources of info I used for this blog are at the bottom). A race is a grouping of humans based on shared physical or social qualities into categories generally viewed as distinct by society. The term was first used to refer to speakers of a common language and then to denote national affiliations. By the 17th century the term began to refer to physical (phenotypical) traits. Modern scholarship regards race as a social construct, an identity which is assigned based on rules made by society. While partially based on physical similarities within groups, race is not an inherent physical or biological quality.

Humans of the same sex are 99.9% genetically identical. Any ethnic group contains 85% of the human genetic diversity of the world. Genetic data shows that no matter how population groups are defined, two people from the same population group are about as different from each other as two people from any two different population groups.

Since the beginning time when humans appeared on Earth, we tend to feel more comfortable with those with whom we grew up, those similar to us. Long ago that meant your family, your group, your neighbors. Each of those groups felt more comfortable with those with who they had the most experience and interaction. Imagine a group/clan/tribe/community of brown hair, brown-eyed, brown skinned people one thousand years ago and in walks a blond-haired, blue-eyed person. Without any prior interactive experience, there would be suspicion, skepticism, and a certain wariness.

I grew up in Yuma, AZ, a very long way from Northeastern USA. I admit to a wariness about those people who exhibit the generalization about New Jersey people: talk loudly and sound angry. That comes across to me as unpredictable, so I am wary around that type of person, I do not need to take a Xanax (that would make me a Jerseyphobe) to be around them, but I’m somewhat uncomfortable.

When I grew up in Yuma (which by the way, produces 95% of America’s winter lettuce, so when you’re enjoying lettuce in the winter, say thanks to Yuma) the population was around 40% Hispanic at that time. Therefore that is what I am used to – I am certainly more comfortable with people of Hispanic origin than I am with loud people from New Jersey. (Note: Mike Burrows, you are not loud, this isn’t about you, Helmut knows who I am referencing.)

Among humans, race has no taxonomic (i honestly don’t know what this word means and don’t want to look it up – I think it might mean something like “categories?”) significance – all living humans belong to the same speciesHomo sapiens. The amount of melanin in our skin determines our skin and hair color. Where we grew up determines the language that we speak and the accent that we have. That is about it. Therefore, we are truly one race – the Human Race. So I suggest we stop using the word “racist” and use “bigot” or maybe “differentists” – those who through ignorance, lack of education, views passed along from their parents and grandparents fear people different from them, is the right word. Differentist doesn’t appear to mean this in online dictionaries, so perhaps “bigot” (suggested by Art Coppola as a better all-inclusive word) or “ethnicist: A person who believes a particular ethnicity is superior to others are more accurate terms. Xenophobia comes from the Greek word for stranger. So I suppose that is a good overall term for people with an overblown fear of strangers. There is not ethnicity, group, tribe, country’s citizens that are better than any other. All this hyper-exaggeration of our differences when boiled down seems like like being in high school with the various baseless cliques. Isn’t it time to grow up, move past the focus on superficial differences and see that we all belong to the same race?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_constructionism

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_(human_categorization)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human

Entering Possibly Humorous Zone

So I don’t know how or why, probably genetics has a lot to do with it, I take a light-hearted approach to life and look to find the humor in things or just make up the humor. Peter Holthe, the driving force that made FOCM happen, called me irreverent. Having just looked it up, it means: showing a lack of respect for people or things that are generally taken seriously. I don’t intend to show a lack of respect but I like humor more than seriousness. Of course there’s a time and a place for both. But funny observations are always just under the serious stuff for me.

So my twin brother recently must have been surfing the web, maybe Wikipedia and spent time on the origin of the names of a couple of America’s states: Idaho and Texas. Below will be what he wrote and what I replied with.

My brother sent this: The name “Idaho” has no translation at all because it’s entirely made up. In an early form of marketing that would make these modern-day businesses proud, the name was suggested by a local leader in 1860 who claimed the word “Idaho” was a Native American word for “gem of the mountains.” Later that same year, gold was discovered in the Clearwater area, proving his invented name wasn’t far off base.

To which I replied: That’s close to accurate.  It was made up, but it was “Idano” and a typesetting issue on the old printing press mistakenly set the n as an h.  Quite easy to do as they are close to each other. The name “Idano” was because when others heading west asked the people in what is now Idaho, why they stopped there and didn’t go any further, their answer was “idano”.

Then he sent this about Texas: Like the Dakotas, Texas was named with friendship in mind. Texas is a variant of a word (Teysha) used by some Native Americans to refer to friends or allies. It has many different spellings, including “Texias,” “Tejas,” and “Teysas.”

To which I replied: A variant book of name origins reveals this: Like the Carolinas, Texas was named after a particular member of the royal family, albeit, for Texas, it was a lesser known Earl of a small, rural Scottish Isle.  His name was Tex, Earl of the Isle of Mull.  Tex was rather eccentric and thought being Earl meant he was King of his Isle.  When people would see something new or different on the isle, they’d ask “whose is that?” The answer was always “it’s Tex’s”.  Tex did little actual work and spent a lot of time thinking – coincidentally Tex is the reason that to “mull” it over means to think on something.  Tex’s incompetency lead to his eventual over throw and he was sent to the new colonies. He eventually settled in what is now Odessa. He got very active in the public square where his eccentricities and overblown ego eventually resulted in the state being named Texas.

FOCM Network Brainstorming Project

A friend and FOCM member in good standing is starting her consultancy company and is looking to find a good and proper name. As an annual dues paying member, she is entitled to this calling forth the idea generation of the FOCM Network.

The option to name it something like: lastname (use Smith as the example) consulting, of course is an option. I proposed we ask this network to do some thinking and see if we could come up with a name that will communicate what it is she can best contribute.

So here’s the background info:
This individual has over 25 years experience as a Clinical Research Scientist, Director of Clinical Operations, Executive Director and VP of Strategic Programs, Alliances and Governance. The past 12 years have been in the area of managing strategic accounts and partnership governance. This is a particularly strong area of expertise and focus.

Let’s use the normal brainstorming rules – no idea is a bad idea, don’t shoot down any other ideas – just want to generate name ideas. I’ll get it started:

CRO/Bio/Pharm Alliance Management, LLC
Alliance Governance, LLC
Clinical Research Partnership Governance, LLC
Smith Consulting, LLC
Clinical Research Alliance Governance, LLC
Clinical Research and Governance, LLC
Strategic Governance, LLC

Reply in comments with your quick, off the top of your head ideas. Many thanks.

New FOCM Member

On June 28, 2019 while attending the annual Drug Information Association (DIA) meeting in San Diego, FOCM was busy expanding its network. All new membership ceremonies are significant and strict adherence to protocol is (almost) always followed. This particular ceremony included a new addition to the protocol. FOCM is pleased to announce that Jodi Andrews, Founder and Co-CEO of Pro-Trials Research received her membership card.

This ceremony took place on the exhibit hall floor. What was added to the procedure for this ceremony was a shot of bourbon prior to the handshake, card presentation and photo. Later, a small pour of Fireball was distributed to the new member.

The Power of Words on Performance

Over the years, I have read a lot of self-help books, listened to tapes and podcasts.  At this point in my career, I thought I didn’t need to read those any more as, at this point, I am who I am. 

Reading this article reminded me that there is much value in the attitude and approach of continually learning.  As my friend, Martin Cleary has said repeatedly: be in knowledge acquisition mode.  This article also reinforces the power of words on personal actions.  Jeff Haden is the author. https://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/stop-using-i-start-using-this-word-instead-you-can-improve-performance-reduce-stress-increase-your-willpower-endurance.html?cid=landermore

I recommend you read the entire article.  I’ve briefly selected a couple of simple yet powerful points:

Research has proven that some forms of self-talk are effective.  For example there is a difference between saying “I can’t,” and, “I don’t,” to yourself.

One group was given a simple temptation and told to say, when tempted, “I can’t do (that).” The other group was told to say, “I don’t do (that).” 

Here’s what happened: 

  • Participants told to say “I can’t” gave in to the temptation 61 percent of the time.
  • Participants told to say “I don’t” gave in to the temptation 36 percent of the time.

Simply switching one word, “don’t” for “can’t,” made participants twice as likely to stay the course.

Then the researchers conducted a second experiment: Participants were told to set a personal long-term health and wellness goal. When their initial motivation waned — as initial motivation always tends to do — one group was told to say, “I can’t miss my workout.” A second group was told to say, “I don’t miss my workouts.” The third group, the control group, wasn’t given a temptation-avoidance strategy. 

After 10 days: 

  • 3 out of 10 control group members stuck to their goal.
  • 1 out of 10 “I can’t” group members stuck to their goal.
  • 8 out of 10 “I don’t” group members stuck to their goal.

Not only was “I can’t” less effective than “I don’t”; “I can’t” was less effective than using no strategy at all. 

According to the researchers:

‘I don’t’ is more persuasive than ‘I can’t’ because the former connotes conviction to a higher degree.

Or in non researcher-speak, saying “I can’t,” leads to negotiating with yourself. “I can’t have dessert… but then again, if I work out later… or if I skip breakfast tomorrow…”

Once you start to negotiate with yourself, you need willpower to win that argument.

But “I don’t” leaves no room for argument. “I don’t” doesn’t reflect a choice; it states who you are.

One word makes a huge difference.

Especially when that word is a pronoun.

The Power of “You”…

Science shows the difference between using “I” and “you” when you talk to yourself can be dramatic. 

Take public speaking: Research shows that second-person self-talk — saying “You can do this” to yourself instead of “I can do this” – will improve your performance.

And then there’s this: Swapping “you” for “I” can also improve your willpower and endurance. Researchers had participants do a number of 10k cycling time trials. After a baseline was established, researchers encouraged them to frame their self-talk differently.

  • Replacing “I need to keep going” with “You can keep going.”
  • Replacing “No pain, no gain” with “You can work through the pain.”
  • Replacing “I can do this” with “You can do this.”

While the differences seem insignificant, the results were not: 13 out of 16 participants rode faster, and the average person’s time improved by 2.4%. 

Just by saying “you” instead of “I.”

FOCM Member Displays Membership Pin

On June 11, 2019 in RTP, NC I attended Heather Hollick’s book release event. Heather wrote a book on networking, entitled Helpful: A Guide to Life, Careers and the Art of Networking. I was introduced to Heather by Tanyss Mason. It was Christine Sears who recommended Tanyss get in touch with me when she was undertaking a job search. Heather and I clicked immediately over a phone call on our mutual view of networking.

The book release event was held at the NC Biotech Center. I promoted this event to the FOCM network. Five members joined the approximately 40 others. I was pleased to see member Peter Benton in attendance. As I walked over to say hi, he pointed out that he was wearing his FOCM membership pin. Peter thought FOCM should have some kind of salute, the three finger salute isn’t going to be it, but it was a good attempt on short notice.

Peter Benton FOCM Pin

Benefits of Capitalism in Drug Discovery

Nathan Yates has spinal muscular atrophy and is a professor or economics and finance. Here’s an excerpt of his article on the price of a new drug to treat his condition. The bold in the text below is mine. The

The full article is here:
https://www.statnews.com/2019/05/31/spinal-muscular-atrophy-zolgensma-price-critics/

As someone who has lived with spinal muscular atrophy for all 30 years of my life, I was perplexed and disappointed that the recent approval of Novartis’ gene therapy Zolgensma was immediately overshadowed by outrage over the drug’s price: $2.125 million.

The Food and Drug Administration’s decision was a pivotal day for those of us in the SMA community. Zolgensma, approved for children under 2, is the only one-dose treatment option for any category of SMA patients and has been highly effective in clinical testing so far.

Sure, it’s the world’s priciest drug. But instead of debating the level of financial profit that is appropriate for Novartis, let’s focus on the needs of patients. How are we going to get treatments for rare diseases if there’s not a financial incentive for doing it? Therapies are being developed because people think they can sell them for a profit. We don’t like to talk about it, but pharmaceutical companies exist to make money. Don’t we realize, though, that all of society profits from each disease we cure and each baby that is saved from SMA and other deadly diseases?

As a professor of economics and finance, I believe that the cost-related complaints being thrown around social media are short-sighted. Shortly after Zolgensma’s price was announced, I even told a friend, “This is a good problem to have.” Why? It’s a twofold answer:

  1. Competition – drives cost down
  2. Long term value – each successive drug that’s approved will be an improvement – whether that’s injected by IV once instead of into the spinal column every 4 months or made into a pill for once a day dosing. drug