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Your Society

Published: 15 Nov 2018
Category: Your Society
By Jonathan Bruun

By the time you read this you will hopefully have already seen the Society’s announcement of its new Scientific Advisory Panel. I’d like to talk about the role we see this group playing, and what it means for the Society.

But first, for those of you who haven’t already read or heard about it, the panel members are:
  • Professor Jackie Hunter, Chief Executive, Clinical Programmes & Strategic Relationships, Benevolent AI
  • Dr Fiona Marshall, Vice President and Head of the UK Discovery Centre, MSD Research Laboratories
  • Dr Menelas Pangalos, Executive Vice President, IMED Biotech Unit & Global Business Development, AstraZeneca
  • Dr Tony Wood, Senior Vice President of Medicinal Science & Technology, GSK

Steve Hill and Munir Pirmohamed, our President and President-Elect, will represent the Society on the group.

Horizon scanning

One of the guiding principles in our 2018– 2022 strategy is that “Pharmacology and therapeutics are evolving disciplines, and it is our responsibility to define, redefine and change them to reflect this.” This is the spirit in which, over the summer, Steve Hill and I started to reach out to the people who now comprise our panel. Getting each of the “yesses” from them were some of the highlights of my year so far.

The group will advise on the Society’s scientific content strategy, and help to ensure our journals, meetings and policy outputs are aligned. It will focus on identifying emerging trends in the life sciences, enabling us to better understand how we can integrate these into our future activities and decisions.

The idea is for this to be a pretty informal arrangement (the group plans to meet for the first time over dinner in January 2019) rather than a formal addition to our existing governance structure. The panel will provide insight and advice, and the Society will decide, through Council, Meetings Committee, editorial boards and staff directors, how that advice might best be incorporated into our activities. And it’s important to recognise that we still see our members as the primary source of ideas for meetings, symposia topics, and journal content.

Foresight in a time of change

Securing the input of such respected and connected individuals is a good indicator of the Society’s progress, and the importance of pharmacology and clinical pharmacology to the discovery, delivery and regulation of new medicines. Using this group, we are confident of becoming more strategic and coherent in our approach to disseminating research in pharmacology and therapeutics.

Nowhere is this going to be more necessary that in publishing. There are some big changes on the horizon which all academic publishers are grappling with, and we are no exception. The open access movement has been around for a long time, but now has real impetus behind it in the UK, the EU, and worldwide – and the changes to journal access and subscription arrangements are going to be significant. UK Research and Innovation has recently decided that from 2020, funded research must be published in “gold open access” format. This means the final version of all articles will be freely and permanently accessible for everyone, immediately after publication: no subscription charges, no paywalls, and limited restrictions on reuse.

While Pharmacology Research & Perspectives, our newest journal, is already fully open access, the British Journal of Pharmacology and the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology are hybrid journals, with a mix of subscription-based and open access revenues, and both are likely to be affected financially by any new model of publishing. For a while, we’ve been making plans to lower the Society’s exposure to this kind of event through diversification of revenue and the promotion of open access publishing in our journals, among other things. So, we’re in relatively good shape to meet the challenge.

Through our Council, Publications Committee and editorial boards, we are already considering options to ensure that the journals – by some distance our main source of income and a significant bellwether of the strength and quality of our discipline – can thrive in the future, while accepting the strong argument for open access, and embracing change.

It’s that time of year again

I couldn’t end without saying how much I am looking forward to Pharmacology 2018. Over six years into my time as Chief Executive, these days nothing says “Christmas” to me quite like three days with our members in the QEII Centre!

I’m sure you will already have taken advantage of the early-bird registration discount (deadline 18 November). But if you haven’t let me remind you that this year we will have more commissioned content than ever before, a Welcome Reception priced at just £5, and a wonderfully heavy-hitting line-up of speakers. I look forward to seeing you at P18.

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About the author

Jono joined the Society in 2009 as Head and then Director of Communications. He became CEO in June 2012 and is responsible for delivering the Society’s five-year strategic plan across seven main areas of development, including its plan to diversify revenue. As CEO, Jono has overall responsibility for strategic and financial management, business development, human resources, policy development, governance and the oversight of projects that are designed to support the UK and international pharmacology community.