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President’s Message: Ambitions for an inclusive, proud and bold Society

Published: 28 Jan 2022
Category: President's message
By Clive Peter Page OBE

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Professor Clive Page OBE, President

Now is the time to shout from the rooftops about pharmacology, and that is exactly what I will encourage during my tenure as President of the Society. This intention may seem bold, but ‘bold’ is one of our new Society values, and I intend to start as I mean to go on – by reflecting those values in everything I do during my time here.

So, what do I mean by my opening thoughts? And what should we do to make my intentions happen? In my first blog, I’m going to answer those questions by outlining my three key priorities for the next two years.

Firstly, I strongly believe that though the pandemic has been challenging, heart-breaking and unsettling for us all, it has also allowed us to share with the community the positive impact that pharmacology has on the development and provision of safe medicines. Thanks to the incredible work of our members in saving lives and managing the pandemic over the past two years, the word pharmacology now means something to people outside of the field. This provides us with a new opportunity to raise the profile of the discipline even more, to be proud of what we achieve, and should ensure that we do not hide our success under a bushel.

In that vein, and to help us build confidence in raising the profile, I would like to revitalise the integration between our clinical and non-clinical members. We are all bound by one word as pharmacologists – ‘drug’ – from identifying new targets, to starting the journey for the development of new medicines, through to their regulation and appropriate use; so if we are joined-up in our thinking, while tackling issues that are important to both clinical and non-clinical members, then members of the BPS can speak with a common voice when we share our work with our communities, policy makers, opinion-formers, and those who are just beginning their careers in pharmacology.

Secondly, and to reflect my desire to attract the brightest minds to our subject area, I’m keen that the Society does it utmost to support the next generation of pharmacologists. With the renewed interest in our field, we have a perfect window in time to invest even more into those who are in the early stages of their careers. Furthermore, as we reflect on our values and strategy for 2022-2024, we must make sure that the opportunities we provide are fair and equitable, and that there are no barriers to inclusion for those looking to access initiatives across the discipline.

Finally, during my time as President, I will be prioritising our engagement with the biotech and pharmaceutical industry, as a reminder to us all that pharmacology is a unique area of medical science that spans academia, the NHS and industry. Our Industry Trustee, AstraZeneca Vice President Steve Rees, has investigated why industry pharmacologists have not been joining the Society in large numbers in recent years; his key findings suggest they often haven’t heard of us, don’t classify themselves as pharmacologists, or wouldn’t identify with the Society. To address this, and make our Society more inclusive and more relevant, we need to improve our links and collaboration with industry at all levels. This may mean launching initiatives that look beyond our current membership, as well as increasing our collaborative efforts not just with the vibrant pharmaceutical and biotech community engaged in the discovery and development of new medicines, but also with the many unsung heroes of our field – the contract research organisations, both non-clinical and clinical. This is important because so many of our colleagues who are “pharmacologists” are employed by such organisations and should be actively involved in our community, whether or not they are members of the Society.

When we engage the entire spectrum of our field, we will be even further empowered to shout from the rooftops about the work we do, and to encourage more trust in, and respect for, the many significant contributions pharmacologists make to wider society.

I am greatly honoured to have been elected to be President of this wonderful organisation for the coming two years and hugely excited about the opportunities that these priorities bring to the Society and to pharmacology as a discipline. It’s time to broaden our horizons and consolidate the importance and recognition of our discipline in the world – and that starts with us and all we do.

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