The sun shone down on Cambridge as we saw a welcome return of the International Reid Bioanalytical Forum. The event had been rescheduled several times from its normal slot in September and was now nestled firmly in its rightful place in June (13-16), between ASMS and HPLC.
For many of the attendees, this was the first in-person conference after a two-year absence. Despite the elapsed time, the level of engagement and conversations were high. There was also quality networking time and scientific presentations that made the wait worthwhile.
Day 0 - meet, greet and learn
As has become tradition at Reid, we began with a short course for early career scientists looking to learn more about hot topics in the pharmaceutical industry. This time around a team led by Amanda Wilson, Head of Translational Sciences and Biomarkers, AstraZeneca, covered the impact that drug delivery has on bioanalysis.
This was followed by a networking reception for the wider conference delegates along with the now- famous “Pub” quiz hosted by Ludovicus Staelens, Director Translational Biomarkers, UCB. It's fair to say I did not do so well in this.
Day 1 - Future of BioA, regulations and punting
The theme for the day was Bioanalysis of the Future as well as Regulatory topics. Discussion ranged from use of improved technologies to help with challenging analysis, to practical ways to enforce the industry’s reduce, replace and refine policies on the use of animal subjects in studies. This is a topic close to my heart, and several things can be done — from increasing use of modeling software to strategic analysis to generate more data from less sample. We are definitely heading the right way, but there is always more that can be done.
The sunny evening entertainment was an enjoyable punt around the River Cam in Cambridge. It was a wonderful way to network and discuss the day’s presentations.
Day 2 – COVID-19 and open session
The open session is always great, and this was no exception. Talks around incurred sample reproducibility (ISR) were very engaging, and it was clearer than ever that, although synthetic small molecule applications were discussed, the pipeline of many large pharma organizations is filled with new modality drugs, such as Oligonucleotides. The shift has been clear over the time I have been involved with the event.
Development around the COVID-19 pandemic was the last topic of the day with some excellent talks on volumetric micro sampling and patient-centric sampling. Ken Cook (Thermo Scientific) gave a well-received talk about the advancements in mRNA sequencing.
The conference dinner was in the evening, with invited guests Mr. Flavour, creating some amazing cocktails, including a masterclass (no I didn’t trust myself to give it a go).
Day 3 - Beyond Pharma
The final day was an eclectic mix of Bioanalysis Beyond Pharma with talk from Chester Zoo on how metabolite profiling helps in conservation work, as well as the issue of sample collection in the field. We also heard talks around nicotine analysis, lipid barriers and much more. Bioanalysis is often thought of as only traditional pharma, but this session helped remind us that bioanalysis is everywhere!
My reflections on the week are that, although the world has changed the way we interact and communicate, there really is no substitute for face-to-face meetings. The digital world is a great place to discuss how to approach a task but open, fluid discussions only occur in the real world, and that is where the ideas and collaborative relationships come from.