Reflections on PHUSE EU Connect 2023

  • Life Sciences
  • R
  • AI
  • Validated SCE

By Ian Amaranayake

That’s a wrap! PHUSE EU Connect 2023 has finally drawn to a close with over 230 presentations, posters and workshops delivered across 19 conference streams over a four-day period.

The event was held this year at Birmingham’s world-famous ICC venue and represented the coming together of industry professionals from across the world to discuss issues and challenges that we face in the area of clinical data science and in support of the development of new, novel treatments and vaccines, as well as opportunities to share innovations and best practices.

We also had a bit of fun – our pink themed mugs and bottles were a big hit (let us know if you didn’t manage to grab one on the day), as was our fun demonstration of analytics in action with many attendees taking the time to try out our Clinical Outrun racing game which streamed in-game telemetry to an R-Shiny dashboard so that our budding racing drivers could analyse their driving style. Congratulations as well to our two fastest lap winners who walked away with an Amazon echo (Vincent Bucheit and Valentin Legras).




So, what were my highlights? There are so many to pick from but if I had to choose it would be a combination of the great keynotes delivered by diversity and inclusivity expert Naomi Sesay, Welsh ex-Rugby player Gareth Thomas and inspirational pioneer Cathy O’Dowd and the many high-quality presentations that I had the pleasure of attending. Some other highlights to draw out are:

  • Prior to the conference I was interested to see how Open-Source technology was driving innovation at scale across the industry. There were many great technical presentations, but my highlight was the “Lets discuss Open Source Openly: A new path in pharma” panel discussion which pulled together representatives from pharma companies who are driving the adoption of open-source technology, as well as service providers and vendors who are enabling this change within the industry.
  • A thought-provoking discussion which explored how we could make sustainable use of R in business-as-usual activities as well as a look forward to the future and how change would impact us as programmers and technology advocates. The final take aways focussed on the need to be curious, to celebrate the diversity of choice, but the challenge in getting the balance right between innovation and the need to implement guardrails and standards.
  • As I’m sure we’re all aware, the emergence of generative AI and Large Language Models (LLM’s) has been rapid, and I was very pleased to see a variety of presentations centred around how organisations are starting to use this technology to accelerate their businesses.
  • Our very own Principal Consultant Paul Shannon took the opportunity in his award-winning presentation to explore how technological advancements in AI will present opportunities, challenges as well as its likely impact on the industry, in his matrix themed paper Red Pill or Blue Pill? Assessing the Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Pharmaceutical Programming.

Alongside my co-chairs, I ran a packed agenda of presentations in the Leadership Through Innovation stream. Split over two days, the stream hosted a workshop on Design Thinking, as well as presentations on topics ranging from the evolving role of a statistical programmer through to the value of emotional intelligence as an important soft skill for effective leadership, the author of which Jessica Andersen winning the Best Connect Newcomer award.

What inspired you at the conference? We would be delighted to hear from you.

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