Today we are starting a new section on the IFAPP website, recognizing the value and professionalism of relevant members of IFAPP who have greatly contributed to the growth and development of our Federation: “I am IFAPP”. The first person to talk to all of us and comment on her experience is Dr. Johanna Schenk, Past President of IFAPP.
- What was your motivation to join IFAPP?
My fellow Medical Director at Bristol-Myers (prior to the merger with Squibb) Sweden, Prof. Anders Rosén, IFAPP President from 1994 to 1996, encouraged my attendance of the 7th ICPM 1990 in Madrid when I informally met with the IFAPP Executive Committee (nowadays Board of Officers) for the first time. At that time, I assumed the role of Vice-President of the German Society of Pharmaceutical Medicine (FAEPI, from 1996 DGPharMed).
In my then new DGPharMed role of German IFAPP delegate, shortly before departing to the 8th ICPM (1994) in Rome, the previous German delegate to IFAPP and IFAPP Treasurer, Dr. Volker Gladigau, asked me to deputize for him at the House of Delegates meeting and to consider accepting the IFAPP Treasurer’s role if elected from that time as he had to step down from this volunteer position for business reasons. I became the IFAPP Treasurer and assumed that role for six years.
After nineteen years of multinational intra-company cooperation, it was a natural step forward to expand global communication to a fruitful exchange of thoughts across companies as offered by IFAPP, the global not-for-profit assembly of pharmaceutical physicians and pharmaceutical medicine professionals at large.
The early nineties were the era of ICH inauguration. I attended with greatest interest ICH2, 1993 in Orlando, Florida, and ICH3, 1995 in Yokohama, Japan. I became Fellow and elected board member of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine of the Royal Colleges of the United Kingdom. This was in line with the growing understanding that medicine development is a worldwide endeavor. Across border and across culture harmonization and standardization are prerequisites for the elimination of unnecessary delays in worldwide drug development and for ensuring the availability of new therapeutic agents without compromising the safety, efficacy, quality, and applicable regulatory requirements to protect public health. Having become an active IFAPP member also intensified my strong interest in continuously expanding my professional network on an international level.
In a nutshell, having become an active IFAPP member was caused by both the opportunity of an available treasurer position as well as my strong interest in continuously expanding my professional network on an international basis.
- What are the activities you like most in IFAPP?
After my treasurer’s time from 1994-2000, I was IFAPP President from 2000-2002, editorial board representative of ‘IFAPP World’ from 2006-2016 and I am now a member of the Working Groups ‘Ethics’ and ‘Communications’. I am proud of having been the first and only female IFAPP president up to September 2018. Making progress from the driver’s seat supported by a multinational Executive Committee is the proof of leadership skills which is even more needed in a volunteer than in a paid position as there is limited ‘authority’ inherent to volunteer leadership. Nowadays as a member of two IFAPP Working Groups, I am glad when I can be of assistance with my knowledge of the IFAPP history and my pharmaceutical medicine network inside and outside of IFAPP.
- What would you recommend to new members of IFAPP?
IFAPP members were traditionally pharmaceutical medicine associations from all continents. Each member association was represented by one delegate and a deputy. The current constitution now also allows for individual membership. These colleagues can come from countries where pharmaceutical medicine societies do not (yet) exist but can also be from countries with established pharmaceutical medicine societies. Committed members from various countries worldwide are of great help to the IFAPP mission which is “to promote Pharmaceutical Medicine by enhancing the knowledge, expertise and skills of pharmaceutical physicians and other professionals involved in all scientific disciplines with regard to the discovery, development, research and use of medicines worldwide, thus leading to the availability and appropriate use of medicines for the benefit of patients and the society”.
Pharmaceutical medicine is an interdisciplinary endeavor. Physicians specializing in pharmaceutical medicine will always have a particular responsibility within the entire orchestra.
Disseminate your valuable experience and benefit from the discussions with other team members of different backgrounds and cultures in international multidisciplinary teams over the entire life cycle of medicines for the sake of public health and the institutions you are working for. Bring the inspirations you gain at the IFAPP level back to your national society and/or country and consider what could and should be pursued in future endeavors at the domestic level.