From September 29 to October 1, 2023, Montreal’s Convention Center was buzzing at the 32nd SOCRA Annual Conference, marking our triumphant return to in-person interactions for the first time in three years. The atmosphere was electric, with the charm of old Montreal as the backdrop and nearly a thousand attendees.
The conference hosted 105 speakers, featured 53 exhibitors, and showcased 74 poster presenters. Additionally, we were honored to welcome international attendees, with representation from 14 countries. Among this diverse crowd, there was an undeniable sense of enthusiasm at the Welcome Reception and throughout the event, as attendees engaged in discussions, networking, and anticipation of what the conference had in store.
One of the exciting highlights this year was the introduction of session recordings on the SOCRA mobile app. This innovative offering, a first for SOCRA, allows attendees to earn up to 58 CE credits and provides a valuable opportunity to diversify learning experiences in multiple tracks. The on-demand video content is available on the SOCRA app until November 15th.
Conference Highlights & Essential Themes
The conference opened with insights from Jennifer Li, BSc, CCRP, and Jessica Rowe, MA, MS, CCRP, CIP. They explored the modern challenges of clinical research and accentuated SOCRA’s central role in promoting education and training. Special segments brought a Canadian perspective into focus with key updates from Health Canada.
Several notable presenters left lasting impressions throughout the three-day event. Among these presenters was Annie Ellis, a cancer survivor and research advocate, who shared her journey with clinical trials. Her narrative provided a rare glimpse into the world of clinical research from both a patient’s and an advocate’s viewpoint. Similarly, Marsha Simmons, MPH, CCRP, candidly discussed Philadelphia’s health disparities, highlighting pandemic-induced challenges and the subsequent innovative responses.
Echoing the conference’s tagline, “Advancing Innovation and Integrity: A Time for Transformation in Clinical Research,” innovation stood out as a dominant theme. Engaging sessions spotlighted evolving research methods, from adapting traditional practices to meet the demands of modern clinical research to developing shared resources and tools for clinical research.
Some of the highest-attended sessions revolved around training and workforce development. These discussions touched upon the utility of REDCap, the art of effective communication in research, the essential role of a well-informed research team, and tactics to overcome inherent project challenges.
As the conference neared its finale, there was a reflective pause to consider the pandemic’s ramifications. The emphasis was on the lessons from the tumultuous past three years and how these could reshape the informed consent process in a post-pandemic world.
Finally, Quincy Byrdsong, EdD, CCRP, CIP, helped close the conference on a high note. In his illuminating session, “Clinical Research – A New Call to Action,” Quincy dissected the clinical trial environment, especially under the spotlight of recent public health and legal scenarios. His insights reiterated the urgency for a renewed strategy for maximum public health benefit.
Special Recognition Awards
Amid the enlightening and thought-provoking talks, we also recognized recipients of the President’s Award, Chapter Award, and Poster Program winners at the conference.
President’s Award Winner
The President’s Award is awarded annually to individuals demonstrating remarkable dedication and service to SOCRA. This year, we honored Tammy Neseth, MA, CCRP, CIP, for her commitment and invaluable contributions. Tammy, a distinguished Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota graduate, began her career in colorectal cancer screening research at the Mayo Clinic, establishing a legacy of excellence and leadership. Since joining SOCRA in 2003, Tammy has made an indelible mark, actively co-chairing key conferences, spearheading the SOCRA Southeast Minnesota Chapter, and participating in the SOCRA Certification Committee and Board of Directors.
Learn more about Tammy in our Q&A feature on the SOCRA blog.
Chapter Award Winner
We also honored the SOCRA Greater Nashville Regional Chapter, chaired by Wendy Lloyd, BA, CCRP, LPN of the, with the Chapter Award. This accolade is presented annually to a chapter who excels in offering extensive learning avenues for approved CE credits. The Greater Nashville Regional Chapter offered 24 meetings and no cost CE to over 1,000 attendees.
Poster Program Winners
Outstanding research and creativity took center stage in the peer-driven Poster Special Recognition Award Program. Out of 53 impressive submissions, finalists emerged based on their commendable abstracts and poster evaluations. Following rigorous assessment, the top 10 were invited to showcase their posters for a final review round. The poster winners by category were:
Category: Clinical Research Management
Poster winner: Holly Crandall, RN, CCRP & Montreca Releford, CCRP
Project: Impact of Community Partnership in Recruitment for Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease Clinical Studies in Persons With HIV
Holly and Montreca emphasized the role of community collaboration in liver disease research among persons with HIV. Their strategy showcases the importance of community partnerships in enhancing participant recruitment.
Category: Clinical Trials
Poster winner: Rachel ChoquetteProject:Availability of Key Information Required in Protocols and Pharmacy Manuals for Investigational Drug Services
Rachel highlighted the critical gaps in Investigational Drug Services (IDS) pharmacy manuals. She pinpointed the lack of vital information, emphasizing its necessity for participant safety and study efficacy.
Our warmest congratulations to all award recipients and finalists! Your contributions are shaping the future of clinical research.
Looking Ahead to SOCRA’s 33rd Annual Conference in 2024
With the tremendous momentum from this year’s event and the evident, overwhelming interest in the local SOCRA chapter program, we are reminded of our community’s unwavering dedication to expanding our influence and reach. With this in mind, we’re gearing up for an impressive turnout at the 33rd Annual Conference, slated for September 27-29, 2024, in vibrant Las Vegas, NV. We hope you’ll join us!
For the latest updates on this and upcoming SOCRA conferences, we invite you to visit our website or connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube. Together, we’ll further our mission of promoting high-quality research for a healthier world.