Discussing Data Science in Oxford of the East

Pune, India, also known as ‘Oxford of the East’, hosted the first SDE of 2019 on 30th March. The event was attended by more than 95 participants representing 26 different organisations, with the theme ‘Data Science (Past, Present, Future)’. A big thank you to our sponsors, Cognizant, Ephicacy, GCE Solutions, PPD, Syneos Health and Sumptuous IT Solutions, for making this event a grand success. Sarvesh Singh, PhUSE APAC Director, set the tone for the day with an enthusiastic overview of PhUSE including upcoming 2019 annual conferences.

Sowmyanarayan Srinivasan from Accenture was the opening batsman of the scientific sessions of the day, speaking on artificial intelligence in pharma. It helped the novice members of the audience to understand fundamental terms like artificial intelligence (AI), natural language processing (NLP), machine learning (ML) and robotic process automation (RPA). Sowmyanarayan also explained the current approach of regulatory bodies towards AI and algorithms approved by the FDA. This was followed by Dinesh Pillaipakkamnatt from Sineflex Solutions, who delved into the prospects of AI and ML in clinical research. He discussed thought-provoking paradigms of the pharma development process, changing medical practices and patient centricity.

The morning sessions discussed in depth the data influx coming from wearable devices. Speakers talked about multiple devices, technology used, capabilities, optimisation and the diverse nature of challenges faced while handling data. Attendees listened to concepts such as design thinking and digital twins, and the need for statisticians, data managers and statistical programmers to keep abreast of ongoing data science tools.

The afternoon sessions focussed on interesting topics such as conscious use of data science in the healthcare industry, types of machine learning, and current trends and challenges faced in large observational studies. The session on AI and explainable AI and its need provided an insight into the various types of AI, with relevant examples. Lunch and break sessions throughout the day allowed participants to mingle and network, discussing thoughts and perspectives from speaker presentations, as well as industry topics in general.  

The panel discussion, headed by Sarvesh Singh from ICON, proved extremely interesting. Subjects ranged from personalised experience of wearing medical devices, the difference between the need and want of wearing medical devices, patient centricity, and data science being a myth or reality. Attendees generated questions and actively engaged in topics like ‘Will today’s biometry professionals become obsolete with adaptation of data science technology in upcoming years?’

The day concluded on the note that data science, with its roots firmly planted in the 20th century, is the future of the industry and that we are getting ready to adapt the technology, keeping patient centricity firmly in mind.

Along with the presenters receiving their mementoes, Dr Anik Chatterjee from Novartis was honoured with the Outstanding Contributors Award for his work with PhUSE during 2018. The SDE was chaired by Nikita Agnihotri from GCE Solutions and Swapna Deshpande from Cytel, who put together an exciting and varied agenda. Special thanks to Jayapandian Nagamalaiyan from Bayer and all the volunteers who were involved behind the scenes, managing the logistics of the event and ensuring the participants were well taken care of.

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