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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:

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

Biostatistics Job Openings

Array Biostatistics is hiring for multiple Biostatistician and Statistical Programming positions. Preferred location is Wilmington, NC or RTP, NC but are open to remote locations depending on the candidate’s experience.

For more information or to apply go to this link or reach out to me at

Job Opening: Program Manager, Patient Affordability

FOCM is helping a member of the network fill a job opening. Please contact me if you want more details and share this with others who you know may be interested.

As a Program Manager, you will help eliminate barriers for patients, increase their access to medications, and help them receive lifesaving treatments while working in an environment that nurtures you.

The Program Manager (PM), as the primary business relationship manager, is responsible for program management, account management, financial management and business analysis.

The PM will be responsible for providing excellent customer service, exceptional program management, in-depth program knowledge and operational excellence for their assigned brands. As the primary point of contact between our valued customers and Company, the PM serves a crucial role in driving internal project teams to deliver Company’s full suite of products and services on schedule, on budget, and within scope.

The ideal candidate must be a self-starter, high performer and able to embrace change in order to adapt within a fast growing organization.


  • Bachelor’s degree with a concentration in business, accounting, marketing and/or healthcare, or pharmaceutical industry, graduate degree and/or additional certifications including PMP preferred
  • Three to four (3-4) years of project or program management experience

Essential Skills Training

On March 23, 2019 at UNC-Wilmington (UNCW) Fuse CR site, a 6 hour workshop on Essential Skills was held. I’d gotten involved with this initiative through my desire to use my network to help others.

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.

Working with Tiffany Erichsen and Susan Sinclair, we put on a program for the students in the Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Clinical Research.

The first topic was Effective Leadership Styles presented by Michael Williams. Michael is the Chief Executive Director of the Executive Service Corps of the Triangle. I’ve known Michael for over 30 years. We were room-mates while in training for our first jobs out of college with Burroughs Wellcome Co. He is an excellent presenter. Students learned the DISC profile and its role in leadership and communications.

The second topic was Collaborative Negotiating presented by Jim Sheegog. Jim is a founder of Rowhill Consulting Group. Jim and I have known each other around 20 years. Jim also worked at Burroughs Wellcome Co which is where we met and then by chance I ran into him at a local restaurant about 7 years ago. Jim is well known in the corporate training and leadership development industry with significant work at global organizations.

A representative from the UNCW Career center spoke over lunch regarding professionalism, conference attendance, image and how to navigate a buffet lunch.

The final speaker was Danielle Baxter and she spoke on Branding. Danielle is Director of Business Development for Paragon Global CRS. I’ve known Danielle for 2 years and she is a very impressive speaker.

I was able to help because I keep in touch with people I’ve met from across the spectrum of my career and I put in effort to maintain the relationship – networking.

Leadership Styles
Leadership Workshop
Collaborative Negotiation

New FOCM Member

While attending SCOPE in mid-February in Orlando, I had the good fortune of welcoming Marie Perrone into FOCM. I had met Marie several years before via an introduction by long-time FOCM member, friend and former co-worker, Deb Nichols. It took so long for Marie to get her card due to some strange, but ultimately explainable issues in the background check that is run on all FOCM member candidates. The joy of receiving her card and the overwhelming relief to have resolved the items of her past is quite evident in the photo of this memorable event.

Marie Perrone receives her FOCM Membership card
Photo taken by Deb Nichols

Trends: Good and Bad

I saw a few statistics recently and think that in this current environment wherein politicians make exaggerated statements of the state of the world, they deserve to be noted.

These are from TIME Magazine earlier this year.

The share of the world living in extreme pottery has declined drastically:

  • in 1990, 36% of the world lived in extreme poverty
  • in 2015, it had fallen to 10%
  • in 2030, it is expected to be 6%.

According to Forbes magazine, there are twice as many people in the world who are obese as to those who are undernourished. And now back to TIME magazine reports:

  • in 2016 in the US, 40% of adults are obese
  • in 2030, is expected to be 50%.

In 2030, 25% of total travel on US roads will be done in self-driving vehicles.

Interesting items to think about.

Political Parody

My Mom purchased a subscription to Weekly Standard for me several years ago.  Yes, it leans conservative but the editors are definitely not pro-Trump.

One of the things I enjoy about it is the last page is usually a parody of a real story or headline and they take off with it and have fun.  This one made me chuckle.  They start with the true story of Elizabeth Warren and her DNA test revealing that she does have some Native American ancestory.

Eliz Warren

Levi 501 Jeans

I recently read an article by Joseph Epstein ( about a new pair of slippers he bought.  Mr. Epstein being 81 years old realized that these slippers would be the last ones he would ever need to buy.  The phrase he used was, “these should see me out.”

I had the same realization recently in regards to a pair of Levi Original Shrink to Fit 501 jeans.  I bought a pair last year and realizing that I still wear a pair of black pre-shrunk 501’s which I first got in around 1993 (when the company I worked for had just started casual attire Fridays), this pair of jeans could be the last pair I need to buy.  These pants may see me out.

It might seem a bit morbid to think about that.  The more I think about it in my stream of consciousness blogging – Levi 501’s tell a part of my life story.  When I find something that works for me, I stick with it.  It makes decision making easier.  My youngest daughter when in elementary school put together a book entitled: “My Dad”.  One one page was a drawing of a man in blue pants with the sentence, “my dad’s favorite pants are jeans.”

Rachel, my hair cutting professional (her business is on the “recommended” tab at this web site), said that it’s a rather amazing thing that I can still fit into jeans that I have had for 25 years.  A few years ago I did have to go up an inch in the waist.  Growing up when there wasn’t pre-shrunk jeans, you came to know that Levi 501’s shrink 3 inches in the length and 1 inch in the waist.  So for a long time I bought 32 waist, 33 length.  So when pre-shrunk jeans came out, I knew I needed 31 waist, 30 length.  I just counted, I have 10 pair of jeans, three of them are probably 25-30 years old, two of them have ripped at the knee due to natural causes, not artificially done  to be stylistic.  I had to go up to 33 waist and then 34 waist, 33 length and have 3 pair at that size.  The last pair I bought were back down to 33 waist, 32 length (aging bones are reducing my height).  So as I type this, a few pair are bound to become unwearable and will be taken out of circulation (yes, I rotate my jeans, so they each get their turn) and discarded.  I don’t know if a pair can make it 40 years.  So I bet I will need to buy one more pair in 2020 and that pair will be the ones to see me out.

New 501s & 30 year old pair

FOCM Surprise Event

It was a typical Halloween Eve evening, weather-wise in Raleigh, North Carolina.  It should come as no shock to anyone that it was also October 30.  I’d rather hastily organized the 10/30 FOCM event just the day before as Brian Langin was coming to town.  Brian has the distinction of receiving the first FOCM card ever handed out.  So clearly, he was worthy of me getting people together.

Brian was first to arrive, followed by me and then surprise, surprise, surprise, Paula Brown Stafford joined us.  Paula and I have known each other for 22 years when I first started in the clinical research industry working at Quintiles together.  She has said to keep her on the FOCM event distribution lists as someday she just might surprise me and show up.

Brian, Me, Paula

In what can only be described as one of the happiest moments of her life, Paula received her FOCM card. 





It was a fun evening.  Others in attendance: Rob Sucharski, Duncan Shaw, Peter Payne,  Lauren Sherwood, Heather Malinowski*, Steve Young, Peter Weiman*.

*1st time attendees