Learning to Shine When Failure is Not an Option

Clinical Researcher—April 2020 (Volume 34, Issue 4)


Jim Kremidas


Faced with one of the biggest potential disasters in the history of the U.S. manned space program to the moon, NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz memorably said failure was not an option when considering ways to rescue three astronauts floundering in space. In Ron Howard’s Apollo 13 movie, Kranz goes further, saying the time of crisis will in fact be NASA’s finest hour.

I watched that classic 1995 film recently. Kranz’s courage and optimism resonate even more today as we struggle together to adapt to a new normal involving terms like “social distancing” and “flattening the curve,” and grappling with a healthcare crisis of an almost unimaginable magnitude. Indeed, our lives have been disrupted to their very core.

ACRP members and other clinical trial practitioners are taking offensive action in this new war against a new foe: the coronavirus causing cases of COVID-19 that are already overwhelming hospitals and other healthcare facilities around the globe.

Speaking on behalf of the team here at ACRP, we’ve never been prouder to support your vital work protecting health and improving quality of life. In critical ways, you and your work are the ammunition for our key weapon to mitigate the virus today. You are the professionals providing the data and other information needed for front line healthcare workers to help patients in need. Additionally, your work will help us to be prepared to meet the next pandemic in whatever form it takes. It is clinical research that will find the cures we need to win the battle against this deadly virus and future ones.

The work you do is so incredibly important. You aren’t doing it for credit or glory, but the fact remains: You are answering a higher calling by working to help advance human health. Now more than ever.

Let’s Get Virtual

As you probably are already aware, we had to cancel our physical conference in Seattle, which had been scheduled to begin May 1. The cancellation joined a long list of events of all stripes that continues to grow as we and the entire globe wait to see how damaging COVID-19 will prove to be.

We share your disappointment. The conference is an educational and inspiring time, and we were all looking forward to it very much. Fortunately, starting April 16, we’re bringing you the ACRP 2020 annual conference virtually. Our new program includes 25 expert-led sessions across six educational tracks and provides the opportunity to earn up to 24 ACRP Contact Hours.

While we won’t have the same chance to network face-to-face over coffee and other beverages, I’m glad you will still have an opportunity to earn credits, swap stories, share best practices with peers, and otherwise commiserate with other leaders in the clinical trial world virtually. I hope you’ll be able to participate.

No Spoilers

Finally, for those who haven’t seen the movie, I won’t spoil Apollo 13. Suffice to say, Kranz’s dedication and optimism don’t go unrewarded.

I see Kranz’s steely, resolute spirit in so many clinical trial professionals today. All around the globe, whether it’s helping complicated COVID-19 trials launch in a matter of days, or staffing pop-up testing facilities literally under battlefield conditions, ACRP members and other clinical trial professionals are already demonstrating that this is your finest hour. On behalf of my ACRP colleagues, I thank you and I salute you.

Jim Kremidas is Executive Director of ACRP.