After my 4 years away, I finally got a Society of Toxicology (SOT) meeting in person again, and while much of it felt familiar, I was surprised by just how different some things were: How much our industry has moved on in those 4 COVID-impacted years.
The event felt like it was numerically back to the pre-COVID attendance. I don’t know if it really was, but it certainly felt busy. It was really nice catching up with many people who I’d only seen on-line during that time. And it just felt nice to be back. Familiarity implied normality and that was certainly comforting after what the world had just been though.
However, there were some significant differences too. From a SEND perspective, I think this was my first SOT in almost a decade where someone didn’t approach me and start a conversation with the line “I’ve got a study, does it need to be in SEND?”. Today, there’s a general acceptance that studies require SEND. That’s different.
Another difference is the audience for SEND. Over the past decade, my organization, amongst many others, has spent a great deal of effort educating industry on the SEND standard. I’d felt we’d got to a level in the past few years where we didn’t need to explain what it is, but rather focus on the value and opportunities for SEND. With that in mind, while presenting ‘The life of a SEND dataset’ at this year’s event I deliberately did not, at any point, use the phrase ‘Standard for the Exchange of Nonclinical Data’. I just felt we all knew this now and re-stating it again would be a little patronizing.
It turns out I was wrong. It turns out that SEND has now opened up to a wider audience. It turns out that this new audience maybe more accepting that SEND is required but are still at the point of asking ‘and what is SEND?’. Whether they are new to the world of SEND due to working in biologics or DART, whatever the reason, there are now more SEND newbies grappling with the concepts many of us were first introduced to a decade ago.
Another difference this year was the increased interest in data sharing and translational science. Using SEND (amongst other formats) to share data and ultimately drive improvements in drug development. Topics like virtual control groups are generating more discussion than ever. There was also much talk of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.
While such topics existed last time I attended SOT, I don’t remember them really impacting the program. If they were ever mentioned, it would only ever be in passing and they’d be greeted with a certain level of skepticism. This year felt different.
So, in many ways this year’s SOT had a welcome sense of familiarity and normality, yet I was pleasantly surprised by just how different it felt too. And on that note, I now need to go and prepare for my next SEND presentation: Sensible SEND Live!
I’m assuming you got your invite?
‘til next time