Senior Director, Data Management
Principal Data Manager
October 13, 2022
Aperio’s Stacey King, Senior Director of Data Management, and Kathleen Tolar, Principal Data Manager, recently attended and presented at the SCDM 2022 Annual Conference in San Antonio, TX. We caught up with them after the conference to see how it went!
Welcome back! Going into SCDM 2022, what were you hoping to get out of the conference this year?
Stacey: I think we were both very excited to go and see people in-person! The theme of the conference was ‘Reconnect’ – it was very appropriate. I wanted to hear what SCDM had to say about some of the trends impacting Clinical Data Management right now, in particular the evolution of the Data Manager vs. Data Scientist role. SCDM recently put out a position paper on the topic, I’m excited to dig into it.
Kathleen: There were so many sessions I was interested in, especially those around AI and RBQM. I was excited to see what other companies in the same field are doing, and how they’re applying things that work for them. This was my first SCDM conference and the first time I’ve presented, so I had a lot of things to look forward to! I’m also looking forward to being able to watch the other recorded sessions I was not able to attend in-person.
Were there any thought leaders or presentations that you were especially excited about?
Stacey: I always love hearing from the folks that are part of the SCDM leadership forum, like Richard Young with Veeva, Patrick Nadolny with Sanofi, Tanya du Plessis with Bioforum, Carol Schaffer with Pfizer and the list goes on and on. I was also looking forward to the regulatory panel. This year there were 3 FDA panelists as well as a panelist from the Danish Medicines Agency; they talked about ICH guidelines and gave some insights into what is coming in the next release.
Kathleen: I knew of Amy Abernethy from Verily when we both worked at Duke, so it was exciting to see her speak and see how her career has progressed. It was also great to get to network with vendors and thought leaders who I wouldn’t otherwise get to interact with.
Did you learn anything that surprised you at the SCDM conference?
Stacey: In the leadership forum I got the resounding feeling that staffing is an issue definitely impacting Data Management at the moment. The market has changed, and it’s forced Data Management to get creative and look at how to possibly groom internal staff for Data Manager roles, look more at transferrable skills and really evaluate how we position ourselves to obtain quality staff.
Kathleen: The way some people are using AI is amazing. It can really take some things off of Data Managers’ plates with regards to validation testing, etc. There was also a great presentation on creating your own brand on social media! Decentralized Clinical Trials was a hot topic of course, and the regulatory session was very informative for that. There were also some excellent technology vendors at the conference that are finding new and exciting ways to improve processes and discovering innovative ways to work with study data and within Electronic Medical Records (EMR).
What were some of the big takeaways for where Data Management is headed in the future?
Stacey: There was a lot of talk around the Data Manager vs. Data Scientist role. There were some that seem to think this is going to be a full role switch, but I’m not convinced yet. There are different skills between a traditional data manager and what is expected of a data scientist role. Some skills that really stand out to me for a data scientist are being able think more critically about the data to view analytics for use in data cleaning as well as looking at trends for future actions. I think there is still the need for someone to oversee and manage the process as well as a long term need for the classic data cleaning in the interim. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.
Kathleen: Yes, the Data Manager vs. Data Scientist role was definitely a hot topic at SCDM! Along the lines of staffing that Stacey talked about earlier, there were discussions on how we’re going to lead people to these Data Manager roles. When I was in school, there wasn’t any talk about this type of role – we really need to highlight awareness about it. Things like career fairs and mentoring opportunities are great ways to broaden the net.
What information were you excited to bring back to your colleagues?
Stacey: We need to stay on top of industry trends and training and think through the evolution of the Clinical Data Scientist (CDS) role. Some companies have just changed the titles over. But this role is something different, so we need to not only find those that are interested in that role and help them grow into it, but also understand that not everyone will look at the data that way and ensure we support individual team members’ approach to data cleaning and analysis while still moving forward with industry trends.
Kathleen: I’m excited to see how we can use our resources in different ways, in particular how it relates to RBQM. RBQM, especially how it relates to Data Management, continues to evolve. I can’t wait to take some of what was learned at SCDM and apply it directly to conversations we’re having within Aperio about the topic.