Blogs

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By Rochelle Mills, PhD I am excited to present a 90 minute session on the evolving regulatory landscape surrounding biologic and biosimilar medicines at AMWA’s annual conference in Orlando. Biologics and copycat biosimilars are complex protein-based pharmaceuticals that are harder to manufacture than their conventional small molecule counterparts. This makes them the Ferraris of the drug world . As of 2015 in the United States, only 2% of the population uses them, but 40% of prescription drug spending is on biologics.  Biologics are a rapidly growing sector of the drug market, composing 10% of new FDA drug approvals in 2005 and 32% of approvals in ...
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By Margaret Smith, BA, Editor/Writer, RTI International, Research Triangle Park, NC Battered in the Storm. The prose was so dense, an army of weedwhackers couldn’t possibly whir through it. No graphics cast their rays of light and color on the text because there had been no time to create them. Sections rushed in for editing as though driven by heavy wind. A different author had written each section, and to gather them into something cohesive would take far more time than the deadline would allow—and that deadline loomed in the distance, as ominous as a weeping willow thrashing in a storm. The situation seemed hopeless and could easily have been avoided. ...
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By Donald Harting MA, ELS, CHCP As you can see in the pie chart, continuing education medical writers are a minority membership category within AMWA. Our slice of pie may not be the largest, but it is still sweet. Where else can you get paid to learn about state-of-the-art drugs for exotic diseases, tell stories about medical breakthroughs, and interact with thought leaders across multiple specialties?  During AMWA’s annual conference in Orlando, I will be one of 3 experienced medical writers offering a 90-minute introduction to writing for this specialized market. My distinguished co-presenters will be Nathalie Turner MS, ELS, who works as a senior grant ...
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By Liz Pohland, Chief Executive Officer, Society for Technical Communication As the Society for Technical Communication’s next CEO (as of this Spring), I write this post with a lot of enthusiasm and confidence about the future of technical communication. Like AMWA, STC is a professional membership association dedicated to helping its members communicate complex, technical content clearly and effectively. STC offers robust programming, including an annual conference, certification, education, publications, and many member perks such as an affinity program and mentor and job boards. STC celebrates its 65th anniversary in 2018. In this time of rapid technological ...
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By Patti Peeples, RPh, PhD and Tom Drake, MA, CMPP Medical writers are known for their ninja-like skills, demonstrating agility across numerous therapeutic areas and publication types. Have you been asked to sharpen your proverbial sword (err, pen) and apply it to topics like cost-effectiveness, real world evidence (RWE), or HEOR (health economics and outcomes research)? Do you wish you had more dexterity in this area? Increasingly, addressing the value of an intervention is a common part of the communication plan, and medical writers are often called upon to convey value concepts by reporting HEOR and real-world data. This request may instill fear in some, ...
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If you have been a lead writer or a substantive contributor to a Section 2.7.3 (Summary of Clinical Efficacy) of the CTD, we are interested in your experience.  My colleague Linda Wood, MPH and I are conducting a survey entitled Methods of Content Creation for the Summary of Clinical Efficacy (SCE, Section 2.7.3 of the Common Technical Document). The primary objective of the survey is to determine the methods that a writer of an SCE uses to create content for that document. Content is defined as text, in-text tables, and figures. Methods of creation include de novo writing, repurposed writing, and “provided” writing. We are soliciting responses from qualified ...
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by Jennifer Deyton, Board Member, CSE Off the heels of this year’s annual meeting in San Diego, I want to highlight the Council of Science Editor’s 60 years of achievements. As a long-standing member of the Council of Science Editors (CSE) and a new board member, I am most impressed at the longevity of the society and the continued production of resources that service the publishing industry. Here are just a few of the highlights: CSE’s 60 YEARS OF ACHIEVEMENTS 1957 -  The first Biological Editors meet 1959 -  Vol 1 No1, Conference of Biological Editors Newsletter, later CBE Newsletter 1969- The first CBE Meritorious Award (now the CSE Award ...
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Once Upon a Time

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Once upon a time, there was a little girl who begged her mother for every book she saw. With each new book, the girl couldn’t wait to get home and have her mom read it to her, and then the girl would read it back. The little girl may not have known all the exact words written in the book, but she could retell the story. Yes, that girl was me, and to this day, I love to escape in the story of a good book. I am not alone in my love of stories; we all love stories. Why? A story engages you. It taps into your imagination. It connects you with others. Journalists have known the secret of stories for years, using a personal story to draw readers in to learn more ...
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By Dominic De Bellis, PhD, Section Editor - AMWA Journal, Science Section                DNA, genes, protein synthesis, cloning…these are all terms we have likely heard of in our work as medical writers and editors. These specialized terms have very specific usage as do the myriad other scientific and medical terms we employ in our daily work. Knowing how to use specialized terms is critical to good medical writing, but doing so while using clear and plain language is all the more challenging. As I move forward in my new role as Section Editor of the AMWA Journal’s Science Section, I am pleased to be in a position to help select and refine the scientific ...
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Creating Your Brand

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As I look back at my career, I am struck by two driving thoughts: “how on earth did I get here” and “this has been one amazing ride for a kid from Alabama”. From the time I looked through my first microscope in Mrs. Conner’s fifth grade class, I knew my journey would be science-based, but I had no idea what the destination would be or how much fun I would have getting there. If someone asked me to define what has made me successful, in just one word, that word would be “relationships”. The relationships that I have made and nurtured throughout my professional journey are the foundation on which my life and my business are based. Whether we are talking my role ...
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If you’ve ever attended an AMWA annual conference or the Delaware Valley Chapter (DVC) Princeton Conference or Freelance Workshop, or even glanced at the Freelance Forum column in the AMWA Journal, chances are you’re familiar with Brian Bass, this year’s recipient of the Harold Swanberg Distinguished Service Award. Named in honor of the physician who founded AMWA, the Swanberg Award is presented to an active member of AMWA who has made distinguished contributions to medical communication or rendered unusual and distinguished services to the medical profession. That describes Brian to a T. Full disclosure, Brian and I are business partners in a little venture ...
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AMWA Journal Guest Blog Post by Michael Willis, President, ISMTE As I write this I have just returned from ISMTE’s 2nd Asian-Pacific conference in Beijing, our first in China, attended by approximately 130 journal managing editors, editors-in-chief, and others in the journal publishing world, with a programme relevant to the day-to-day lives of ISMTE’s members: journal metrics, open access publishing, publication ethics, best practice in the journal editorial office, the China publishing landscape, and much more. The conference provided an excellent visual illustration of ISMTE’s mission statement of “empowering editorial offices around the world.” ...
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As Lori Alexander wrote in her blog post a couple of weeks ago, the AMWA Award speakers are “the highlight of every AMWA Medical Writing & Communication Conference.” But this is not just because of the information they provide during their Award Address. We can learn so much about their respective areas of expertise if we take the time to research them (and Lori and I have done some of the work for you!). It’s kind of like when you armchair travel to a location before your vacation; you get so much more out of a location that way. And we think the same is true of our Award-winning speakers! Alvarez Award Winner As fellow Executive Committee member ...
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National Pack Rat Day

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By Gail Flores, PhD When I was growing up, we used to receive mail order catalogs that sold “unique gifts and household products.” One product that repeatedly caught my eye was a plaque that read “A cluttered desk is a sign of genius.” My mother refused to buy it for me, and as a 9-year-old without access to a checking account or credit card, I was out of luck. This blog post coincides with National Pack Rat Day , which falls on May 17. By definition (Google, not Taber’s), a pack rat is “a person who saves unnecessary objects or hoards things.” To celebrate National Pack Rat Day, we are directed to dejunk and declutter – a sort of late-Spring cleaning. ...
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Last month’s March for Science took place on Earth Day in over 600 cities worldwide to advocate for the central role that science plays in our lives, from health, safety, and food security to economies, society, and evidence-based policy making. This 1-day march has spawned a movement in which organizations and communities collaborate to improve the relationship between science and society. The March for Science champions scientific discovery and encourages the public to value and invest in science. This mission is vital to ensuring continued federal support for scientific research. About a decade ago, support for federally funded research had reached record ...
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The McGovern and Alvarez Award speakers are the highlight of every AMWA Medical Writing & Communication Conference (aside from the exceptional education, of course). This year, we are especially privileged to have not 1, but 2 McGovern Award winners (and no, that’s not because of a mix up with envelopes). The 2017 McGovern Award recognizes the work of 2 physicians who have spent more than 20 years working to improve the communication of medical evidence to physicians, journalists, policy makers, and the public so they can make wiser decisions.    This year, the award goes to Steven Woloshin, MD, MS, and Lisa M. Schwartz, MD, MS, who are general internists, ...
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By Hope J. Lafferty, AM, ELS, BELS President-Elect When you do things right, people won't be sure that you have done anything at all .                                                                                                                                  - Futurama Let’s face it: editing is a spooky skill. I’ve been editing in one way or another most of my reading life, yet most of the folks that I work with don’t really understand what I do. I hear terms like “wordsmithing” or “make this pretty” or “work your magic”—which cast editing as an occult craft undertaken only by the few, the proud, and the anal-retentive. It’s not ...
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Through the course of their work, most medical writers have heard of HeLa cells, a cell line that has driven medical research for more than 65 years. But how many know the origin of HeLa cells? The fascinating story emerged in 2010 with the publication of Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks . And now, an HBO movie based on the book will air on Saturday, April 22, at 8 PM (Eastern). Henrietta Lacks was an impoverished black woman who was only 31 years old when she died of cervical cancer in 1951. She was treated for the disease at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, where a sample of her tumor was taken without her permission. To researchers’ ...
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The Results Are In!

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AMWA leaders are working to fulfill their roles of stewards of the association, guiding AMWA toward a sustainable future by ensuring sound, legal, and financially responsible governance. These principles underlie the recent changes to the Constitution. AMWA’s revised Constitution was submitted to AMWA members for ratification during the first week in February, with ballots to be received by March 6, 2017. On March 16, 2017, AMWA staff along with a local AMWA member serving as a witness completed the ballot-counting process. All envelopes received at headquarters by March 6, 2017, were counted. Ballots received after that date were not counted. Each ballot ...
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Twitter to the Rescue

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Cynthia L. Kryder, MS AMWA Journal Social Media Section Editor Never in my wildest dreams could I imagine writing a headline such as this one for an AMWA Journal blog post, but there it is. I first wrote about Twitter in the June, 2009, issue of the AMWA Journal. At the time, Twitter was taking the world by storm and hundreds of people were joining the platform on a daily basis. Back then, Iand many other colleaguesneeded to be convinced of its relevance for medical communicators. Weve come a long way, baby. Twitter has evolved from what some considered a social-media diversion to a tool that two AMWA members used to support a virtual presenter during a ...
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