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Over the last week, almost all of my colleagues have asked me, ‘how was ASCO?’ Instantly, one word springs to mind – HUGE.
This was my first experience of ASCO, an event where 35,000 individuals, including the majority of the top minds in Oncology, come together to discuss, review and advance the latest innovations in the Oncology space.
A month or so earlier, upon deciding we were attending, Sean Farrell (Lead Recruiter – San Francisco) and I reached out to our Oncology client base to see who would be making the trip to Chicago. Unsurprisingly, the majority were, and our schedule quickly filled up with meetings and a few more relaxed cocktail events in the evenings.
We arrived on Friday afternoon in an attempt to get our bearings before things kicked off on the Saturday. And boy, it was a good job we did! For anyone who has been to McCormick Place, you’ll know it’s much more than an event space, it's a small village! After taking it all in, we went to the UChicago Medicine’s ASCO reception at the John Hancock Center. 95 floors up, overlooking all of Chicago, it was a fantastic setting and certainly set the bar high for the rest of the event.
Having ‘got our bearings’ Friday we thought we knew what we were in for…oh how wrong we were. As the exhibitor hall opened Saturday morning, we stood at its holy gates in awe. Look left there was Bayer, Genentech and Sanofi, right BMS and Merck; each, it seems, were trying to out-do one another with the biggest, fanciest booths I’ve ever seen.
We waded in and 8 hours later, having walked in excess of 8 miles, left exhausted. We had talked to the majority of our client base in attendance and secured a couple of strong leads from discussions with Medical Affairs VPs and CMOs. Happy with our successful days’ work, it was time to head to BergenBio’s cocktail reception. Another fantastic drinks event, with extremely interesting review of AXL Kinase inhibitors within Oncology and great conversation with their Chief Development Officer.
Moving on to Sunday, with a strong coffee in hand, we returned to the gladiator’s arena to re-approach those clients who we missed in yesterday’s effort and make the most of our final hours there. We managed to squeeze in a coffee with a CEO of an Australian CRO and CCO of a growing San Francisco based Biopharma so our final ASCO efforts ended on high. Then, Sean and I said a tearful farewell at O’Hare airport and headed back to our respective US coasts.
So, for anyone who hasn’t had a chance to ask yet; How was my first ASCO? Well, Brilliant. A great opportunity to socialize and chat with both old and (hopefully) new clients, many of whom I had not come across until the conference. As well as hear about fascinating topics across Genomics and Personalized Medicine in the Oncology space.
We’ll definitely be back next year!
So, it’s see you later ASCO, not goodbye. Next stop is Boston, and the DIA 2018 Annual Meeting - see you there?