Rolling with the Punches, Virtually Speaking

Paul Evans, PhD, President and CEO, Velocity Clinical Research

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


Paul Evans, PhD


It’s an understatement to say we are living in challenging times. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on much of the world as it forces us to change our habits, alter our daily lives, and do our best to prepare for the unpredictable.

In his April message elsewhere in this issue of Clinical Researcher, ACRP Executive Director Jim Kremidas rightly applauds and salutes clinical trial practitioners and their vital role battling the coronavirus and other health threats. I couldn’t agree more with his sentiments.

However, I wanted to use my space here this month to focus on somewhat more pragmatic matters; specifically, COVID-19’s impact on your Association and the broader clinical research enterprise.

For obvious reasons, we were forced to cancel the ACRP 2020 gathering in Seattle. I’m not going to sugarcoat the reality: The financial impact on ACRP won’t be small. Each year, the conference and exposition form an important source of revenue for your Association. The education and networking event is a pillar of our operations. Now it’s gone.

However, we’ve come up with a way to make the best of a difficult situation. By now you may have received an e-mail from ACRP outlining how paid attendees can get a voucher for $150 over the originally planned conference’s registration fee. You can use that voucher in a number of ways to both support and benefit from your Association via other training and conference offerings, among other options. I hope you’ll consider taking advantage of this exciting offer.

I’d like to applaud ACRP staff for the incredible work they’ve done taking much of the best of our physical conference and transforming it into the Virtual ACRP 2020 Program, with 25 expert-led sessions, six educational tracks, and 24 contact hours available from activities starting in mid-April and stretching into late June.

As we all grow increasingly stir crazy in the coming weeks, I can’t think of a more productive way to use screen time than participating in the Virtual Program.

Our Shared Struggle

It’s also important to remember that, as an industry and as an Association, we’re going to get through this pandemic crisis and its upheaval. I’d like to strike an optimistic note here and talk a little about ACRP’s upcoming physical regional conferences–tentatively scheduled in Philadelphia (September 16–18) and in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park area (September 30–October 2)–each offering an afternoon workshop on the first day and 12 contact hours from full days of sessions on the next two days.

For those undergoing conference “withdrawal” after our Seattle cancellation, these two regional gatherings offer an opportunity to reconnect with colleagues the old-fashioned way! We are also looking at the prospect of adding a few more regional conferences toward the end of 2020. Watch this space for updates.

There’s an expression that “out of chaos, comes opportunity.” Well, as we think about meetings in 2020, I see an opportunity to revitalize our annual business meeting, too. It’s typically held at the annual conference. Let’s be candid: Turnout tends to be underwhelming. However, I think we can find a way to do a virtual version this year with more attendees and more interaction. Again, watch this space for updates.

Finally, I’d like to echo Jim’s comments and say how proud I am to be working with such a fine group of people sharing such worthy goals. We’re in this together, and we’re going to emerge all the stronger for it on the other side.

Paul Evans, PhD, is President and CEO of Velocity Clinical Research, and Chair of the Association Board of Trustees for ACRP in 2020.