Productivity is not a four letter word.

Productivity is not a four letter word.

For me, anyway, the point of opinion writing is less to try to shape events, a presumptuous and foolhardy ambition at best, than to help stimulate debate and, from my particular perspective, try to explain why things got the way they are and what they might mean and where they might lead. My own idiosyncratic bent as a writer, no doubt a legacy of my years spent in the theater, is to look for a narrative in the many competing dramas unfolding on the national stage.

Frank Rich, New York Times

On that global stage called “The Pharmaceutical Industry,” one of the dramas unfolding is the urgency to improve productivity at all levels—industry, team, and individual. On the smaller stage called “Pharmacometrics,” companies are working hard to lower the cost of modeling and simulation and to increase the value of modeling and simulation results to development teams.

Productivity improves with process standardization and automation. At Cognigen, we continually work on automating our processes using our Pharma of the Future? initiative. For example, we recently completed a graph library that standardized more than 80% of the graphs we typically use for exploratory data analysis. Graphs for 30 to 40 projects in a year can now be generated by a single programmer instead of the team of five programmers previously required to accomplish this same work. The remaining programmers have time to undertake more complex tasks, such as data assembly and specialized visualizations.

Cognigen is not the only group in the industry that is standardizing and automating to improve productivity. We think the time is right to stimulate discussion about productivity among all like-minded scientists and programmers. What ideas, tips, and tricks can you share to foster a collective effort to improve productivity on the Pharmacometrics stage?

My plan is to publish a Pharma of the Future blog post on the Cognigen website every other week. The topic will be related to scientific workflows and productivity improvement. (If you are not sure what a scientific workflow is, wait for the next blog entry.) At the same time, on my LinkedIn profile, I will post a question for discussion and an invitation to you to share your experiences.

As you undoubtedly know, this is a challenging time in the pharmaceutical industry. Those of us who work in pharmacometrics strongly believe that modeling and simulation can improve productivity in the global pharmaceutical research enterprise. (And, yes, this means changing the paradigm of drug development and, yes, this may be a foolhardy ambition—but talk about having fun along the way!) This is where the work of Pharma of the Future comes into play, and I hope you will consider contributing to the future discussions.

Be sure read the next Pharma of the Future? blog entry, Scientific workflows—the knowledge-generating engines of R&D. If you missed the last posting, click on over to: You WILL innovate!

Rich F. Confessions of a recovering op-ed columnist. New York Times. March 12, 2011. Accessed March 30, 2011.