November / December 2022

Message from the Chair: An Exciting Year

Jörg Zimmermann
Message from the Chair an Exciting Year

Has it really been a year since I began my term as Chair of the ISPE International Board of Directors? It seems like yesterday, and now the 2022 ISPE Annual Meeting & Expo in Orlando, Florida, has come and gone, and Mike Rutherford is the 2022–2023 Chair.

It has been an honor for me to serve our Society and membership in this position, and we have progressed a number of important initiatives.

One ISPE and Strategic Plan Refresh

A lot of effort went into the One ISPE initiative, which defines the relationship between ISPE international and the Chapters and Affiliates. Eighty percent of Chapters and Affiliates have embraced the concepts that improve the interactions, promote growth of membership, and incentivize the involvement of students in ISPE, which is a topic that is very close to my heart. Reintroducing the liaison role of International Board members with individual Chapters and Affiliates has given us direct lines of communication to the mutual benefit of the International Board and the local groups. This interaction was used to further improve the ISPE Charter, and the proposed changes will be implemented into the 2023 version. We are confident that this will be accepted by all Chapters and Affiliates. Thank you very much to all involved: this was not an easy task!

ISPE is shaping the future of our industry to the benefit of patients.

The Board embarked on a refresh of the strategic plan with a hybrid workshop following the 2022 ISPE Facilities of the Future Conference in February. We defined the path forward for 2023–2025 after a final round of consultations with the Board advisors in July. Tim Howard, who was Chair of the International Board from 2017–2018, helped by moderating the sessions. Thank you, Tim! As you could see in the overview that we gave at the Annual Meeting, ISPE is taking a much more confident position, moving from “connecting pharmaceutical knowledge” to “shaping the future of the pharmaceutical industry.” ISPE is a true independent voice of the industry, accepted by the regulators worldwide, and as such, we are shaping the future of our industry to the benefit of patients.

Figure 1: ISPE Board Members


Figure 2: ISPE Board Members

An Exciting Year

What else did I do as Chair this year, in addition to running the Board and its meetings plus sitting on numerous committees? I started the year by attending the ISPE Ireland Affiliate’s Annual Event and gave the 2020 ISPE Member of the Year award to Eamon Judge from Eli Lilly. Shortly after that, I spoke for ISPE at an event in Italy.

2022 brought back in-person international conferences, starting with Facilities of the Future in February, followed by the 2022 ISPE Aseptic Conference in March, which I have been deeply involved with for almost 15 years.

Everybody has been saying it, but it is true: it was wonderful to be back in person and to interact face-to-face, not just listen to presentations online. The buzz continued with the 2022 ISPE Europe Annual Conference in Madrid, which saw excellent discussions with regulators from around the world. I participated virtually in the ISPE Japan Affiliate Annual Meeting in May, spoke at the “Developments and Innovations in the Pharmaceutical Industry During the Pandemic Period” seminar of the ISPE Turkish Affiliate in September in Istanbul, and attended Board meetings both at the ISPE Germany/Austria/Switzerland (D/A/CH) and the Netherlands Affiliates. Within the D/A/CH Affiliate, the local community of practice for sterile products and processes (which I belong to) organized a workshop on ATMPs in Leipzig. We had a very intense interaction, including participation from the Paul Ehrlich Institute—a German federal agency, medical regulatory body, and research institution for vaccines and biomedicines—and had the unique opportunity to make site visits to view two commercial cell-based products: autologous cartilage cell therapy at Co.don AG and CAR-T cell therapy at the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology IZI.

The highlight for me was the Board meeting that we held at Vetter in Germany. Most Board members were able to attend in person, and we had very productive Board and Executive Committee sessions. In addition, we took the Board on tours of Vetter’s facilities for sterile products and through all the production steps: compounding to fill-finish to automated visual inspection and secondary packaging. Board members were most impressed by the state-of-the art technology and the use of robots in the processes. Of course, there was also time for some sightseeing, including the Zeppelin-Museum in Friedrichshafen and a dinner on a historic boat on the Bodensee.

Looking Ahead

What I could experience firsthand in all these interactions is the great collaboration between ISPE members from around the globe, all bringing their unique viewpoints, perspectives, and cultural backgrounds. This almost limitless networking is what has motivated me in my time as Chair, and I thank you all for this. I also thank my fellow Board members and the fantastic ISPE staff that is making sure that our Society is functioning, striving, and growing.

What lies ahead for ISPE is another year of great conferences that will help shape the future of the pharmaceutical industry, including the Aseptic Conference in March, the Europe Annual Conference in Amsterdam, home of the European Medicines Agency, and the 2023 ISE Annual Meeting & Expo in Las Vegas. For me, it is not time to say goodbye, as I continue as past Chair during 2022–2023 and in various other functions within ISPE from chairing the program committee for the Aseptic Conference, as a reviewer for Pharmaceutical Engineering® magazine and member of the Pharmaceutical Engineering® Committee (PEC), and many more activities.

It has been a great honor for me to serve as Chair and certainly a highlight in my professional career. And on top of it, it has been fun, following my credo: the more you put in, the more you get out of it. I know that the Society is in good hands, and I wish us all the success that we as ISPE deserve. Stay safe and stay in touch.