Our recent blog post “Ten Things Clinical Research Sites Told Us”, which summarized feedback from our regular focus groups, has clearly struck a chord with clinical research professionals and has caused somewhat of a stir on our social media channels. For instance, on the subject of investigator meetings, one commentator had this insight to share:
As it happens, we completely agree! The face-to-face element of investigator meetings is invaluable, and we discussed this in our blog “Rethinking Investigator Meetings”.
This comment on “new places” and “a good venue” got us thinking about all of the places the Longboat team have visited as part of a Clinical Trial IM. It turns out that we are a relatively well-travelled bunch. We have been to some incredible places, so we thought we would gather some of the team to share some of their favorite memories of IM travel:
There is a lot of crossover with certain cities and hotels - Dallas, Budapest, and Rome proving to be among the most popular IM location choices. I remember visiting Prague (the same hotel!!!) a number of times for different studies and sponsors, all within a two-month window. Luckily, I only had to pass the second ugliest tower in the world on the first occasion! Why, oh why, would you have giant babies climbing up the side of a tower!
I also had great experiences at meetings where study teams embraced the freedom provided by the prior completion online of the check box type trainings. One Budapest meeting in particular stands out. Each member of the study team (sponsor and CRO teams) chose a character to play during a mock study visit and played out funny scenarios! This really engaged everyone in the room and got principal investigators and study coordinators thinking critically about the practicalities of recruiting as well as study visits and procedures. The rapport between study team and sites was incedible by the time this meeting came to a close.
Aidan Gannon - Head of Client Services & Innovation
My first ever IM was in Paris. The idyllic location of the hotel, with the Eiffel tower just outside my window, was completely lost on me as I was so nervous about giving my presentation. I needn’t have worried though as the meeting played out just like so many I have attended since. The attendees in the front row fell asleep within the first 10 minutes, and were settling in for their second snooze by the time I stood up to speak! I’ve visited many beautiful cities since, but rarely gotten to see more than a 10-minute stroll will allow!
Heather Pitt - Senior Manager Strategic Partnerships
Missing a tight connecting flight that resulted in my baggage going astray means Dallas will forever be engrained in my memory. With only Converse, skinny jeans, a leather jacket, and my laptop in my possession when I landed late at night, I made a crazed dash in the morning to purchase emergency business attire for my presentation. The study team and monitoring team were amazing and made offers to donate toothpaste, cosmetics, and even clothing. Now I always carry on whenever possible!
Jim Lane - Chief Business Officer
A good investigator meeting, hallmarked by enthusiasm and interaction, is an enjoyable event. Face-to-face conversations with the doctors, nurses, and CRAs always provide a better perspective on a clinical trial. There’s also a social side to the meetings and I’ve met some fascinating people over the years – a doctor from South Carolina who personally renovated a colonial farmhouse, a data manager from Cornwall who bred his own chickens and was planning on planting tea, a birdwatcher from Argentina, a site coordinator whose family had left Mugabe’s Zimbabwe for the UK, and countless more. I’ve had a lot of fun too – I remember doing the haka with a group of New Zealanders in Berlin and witnessed a re-enactment of the gunfight at the OK Corral in a hotel bar (also Berlin but a different meeting – must be something in the water).
With age, I have become more sensible(ish) and try to fit in an early morning scenic run in any city I visit. Running in the snow along the parapets of the old city in Budapest was particularly beautiful.
John O’Sullivan - Chief Quality Officer
The first IM I attended in Amsterdam was a long time ago but the extremely foggy landing at Schiphol has stuck with me to this day. To say the plane blindly bounced off the runway upon landing is an understatement! It was my first IM so the level of cost, organization, and logistics that goes into the event arrangement struck me. Flights, ground connections, hotels, meals, AV, translators, attendee lists, badges, etc. It was all very fleeting, so it seemed a lot to hope that site staff could take anything meaningful from the PowerPoint slides into patient visits. Unfortunately, it was equally as fleeting for me. Seeing the canals and visiting the Van Gogh museum have yet to be ticked off my “to visit” list.
PowerPoint dozing, bumpy landings, lost luggage, curious architecture, and interesting people seem to be par for the IM course. However, if you’re anything like me, you have also probably found half a day before or after the meeting to appreciate your surroundings. After all, it's not very often you get the opportunity to take pictures like this: