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The quarterly newsletter of AMWA-DVC 

In This Issue
First-timers: 2012 Annual Conference
2013 Annual Conference Call for Proposals
NLM Webinar
A Lifelong Bibliophile
Is Your Next Client Coming from China?

Quick Links

Winter 2013
By Jen Maybin 

As always, the AMWA Annual Conference was a networking bonanza and an intriguing educational treat. This year's conference, held in Sacramento, CA on October 3-6, 2012, may have been far from home, but it was chaired by one of our own, Brian Bass. Kudos to Brian and his team of volunteers who continued a tradition of excellence in education and introduced new flavor, including a number of networking events. As in the past, the Board of Directors met the afternoon before the conference to discuss issues of relevance. Some of the highlights of the board meeting and the Annual Conference are summarized here for our DVC members.

New Association Management System

AMWA headquarters is implementing a new association management system, which will include revamping the Web site. The expected launch date is July 2013. Proposals are being gathered for a learning management system and webinar technology to enhance/expand educational offerings. Other plans include reviewing and updating the Executive Committee Handbook, and continuing discussions and action steps for collaborating with other organizations, including DIA, ISMPP, STC, and AAMC.

Certification Program

The Board voted to move forward with the AMWA certification program. Thomas Gegeny, MS, ELS (committee chair), and Karen Potvin Klein, MA, ELS, (chair-elect) led a session at the conference to discuss the certification program. Slides of this presentation are available on the AMWA Web site under the 2012 Annual Conference Open Session Handouts tab; look for Session OS-38. The next step of implementation is examination development. The committee will report on its progress at subsequent board meetings, and we will share updates with our members as they become available.

Free Freelance Directory Subscriptions

Employers/advertisers may now subscribe to the Freelance Directory at no charge.

Educational Programs

The Education Committee is seeking to develop new types of educational programs. These are defined as programs that are not workshops. The committee has adopted enhanced benefits for workshop leaders. At the Annual Conference, the committee held a breakfast Thursday morning for workshop leaders. A proposal is being developed to revise the advanced certificate program with consideration given to maintaining the current advanced certificate program until a new advanced program is approved.

Online Community Development

Affectionately known as the OCD committee, this is the new name for what was previously called the Web and Interactive Technology team. The new committee is gearing up to improve the social media presence of AMWA and its members.

Jen Maybin is a freelance medical writer and current AMWA-DVC president. 




By Amy Rovi

If you haven't attended the AMWA Annual Conference yet, 2013 may be your year! Several members of AMWA-DVC were first-time attendees at the AMWA's 72nd Annual Conference this past October in Sacramento, CA. I reached out and asked some of them to share key ideas, suggestions, and highlights from the meeting.

We are all Working Together 

Mark R. Bowlby, PhD, principal medical writer for Allergan writes,"I attended my first AMWA Conference this past October, after having been a member of AMWA for only 6 months. I have been working in pharmacology labs for the past 15 years, however, so I'm familiar with attending science-focused national meetings, but the AMWA Conference had a distinctly different feel. At the conference, there was a distinct (and often overt) attitude that we are all working together in the same field, and toward the same goals. Everyone I met talked openly about what they do, the challenges they face, and shared best practices and advice easily. There was a friendly, team-based attitude, with little of the cryptic communication methods that I've seen so much of in the competitive science world."

Focusing on Value-Added Skills

Another first-time attendee, Sheila C. Erespe, MS, publication specialist in Scientific Affairs, Publication Services for Merck & Co., Inc. writes, "Some of the key things I learned were to follow instructions and be competitive, add skills constantly and simplify. You do everything you can to gain the advantage. When the journal provides instruction to authors or NIH has a style guide, follow these instructions. Also, add skills constantly. Look to increase your 'value added' skills to your professional tool-set. Recommended at the panel 'value added' skills to work on: data analysis and statistics, help with graphics (tables/figures/illustrations), and editing/creating tables/graphs (marketable skill). It's important to simplify, too. Learn how to work with data, by making it easier to read. Learn how to simplify without losing the point of the piece."

Highlighting the Scope of Medical Writing 

Darryl Z. L'Heureux, PhD, a medical writer for CSL Behring, was impressed by the range of medical writing presented at the AMWA Conference. "From regulatory to publication to promotional to educational to technical writing, AMWA highlighted the considerable scope of medical writing and more importantly, the Annual Conference offered courses and workshops for medical writers to hone their skills across these functions.  I was also impressed with the meeting's 'vibe' where the formal meetings and workshops had a true feeling of collaboration. The breakfast meetings gave an opportunity for more skilled professionals to mentor newer writers and the evening events brought us together again to report and assess our gains for the day."

The Value of Attending the Annual Conference

These highlights demonstrate the value of attending the conference, especially for those who may be contemplating attendance for the first time this year. Hope to see you in Columbus this November!

Amy Rovi is the editor of AMWA-DVC's quarterly newsletter, the Delawriter. Her company, Medivor, LLC, develops regulatory documents and medical marketing materials for Web and print.


Share your expertise at the 2013 AMWA Annual Conference, to be held November 6-9, 2013, in Columbus, OH. Presenting a session at the Annual Conference offers several benefits. For example, you can establish yourself as an expert in your field, refine your presentation techniques, and help grow your subspecialty; in addition, many employers will pay for conference attendance only if the employee presents.

Get all of the details by checking out the 2013 Call for Proposals. Expand your horizons and plan to present in Columbus! The deadline for submitting proposals is February 28, 2013.



Join us from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. on February 20, 2013 for our first webinar of 2013. Kate Flewelling, MLIS, outreach coordinator at the National Network of Libraries of Medicine-Middle Atlantic Region, will update you on the library's latest information innovations. The cost for this 60-minute webinar is $10, and preregistration is required.  

Register through the AMWA-DVC Web site




By Brian Bass

Susan Aiello, DVM, ELS, noted for her innumerable contributions to AMWA at the national level and a favorite daughter of the Delaware Valley Chapter, accepted the esteemed Swanberg Distinguished Service Award in Sacramento at the 72nd Annual Conference this past October. Distinguished service to AMWA has been a centerpiece of Susan's membership, and she is an inspiration to any AMWA member who wants to get involved.

Susan joined AMWA in 1986 and was a valued member of DVC until she relocated to the Ohio Valley Chapter. In 2005, she received the Golden Apple Award for excellence in teaching in the AMWA education program, and she has been a frequent workshop presenter at the AMWA-DVC Princeton Conference where she will be teaching again this May. Susan has also served in numerous positions on the AMWA Executive Committee.

In her Swanberg Award address, Susan spoke of one of her greatest passions: books. And after experiencing her presentation, you may never look at the books on your shelf the same way again. She showed us the proper way to prepare a book for reading so you don't break the spine, and brilliantly entwined her love of books and reading with thoughtful and often hilarious glimpses into how both have shaped her personal and professional life.

You can experience Susan's wonderful presentation for yourself on YouTube, where it's presented in 2 parts: 

Part 1: http://youtu.be/q6E7rF2dGjE

Part 2: http://youtu.be/hyi1S7vWUJE 


Brian Bass is author of The Accidental Medical Writer and president of Bass Global, Inc.


By Kent Steinriede

Strong Chinese and foreign investment has created a boom in pharmaceutical and medical device research that shows few signs of slowing. "They're incredibly talented people who want to make things better," says Michael Platt, MS, president of MedVal Information Services, which has offices in Shanghai and Skillman, NJ.

However, these busy Chinese researchers need medical communicators who can help them publish their research in English-language journals. At the December educational dinner, "Made in China, Written in the USA: Opportunities for Medical Communication," at the ECRI Institute in Plymouth Meeting, PA, Platt and Seth Goldenberg, PhD, co-founder of the Asia Pacific Bio Intelligence consulting firm, shared their expertise and experience working in the Chinese healthcare market and biomedical writing and publishing.

"Like everything in China, it all has to do with the government," says Goldenberg. Currently the Chinese government is pushing to modernize the healthcare industry and provide universal healthcare for more than 1.4 billion people by 2020. Meanwhile, the government spent $131 billion on healthcare infrastructure between 2009 and 2011. More than 15,000 hospitals and clinics have been built or planned in recent years, says Goldenberg, a former FDA regulatory chemist who worked in China and is also a senior principal scientist at NAMSA, a global medical device research organization.

Markets for Medical Writers in China 

Western pharmaceutical firms are also busy growing in China, with Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Bayer, Sanofi and Roche each capturing a market share of 5% to 8%. Pharmaceutical companies have in-house medical writers for regulatory submissions, but they usually outsource their publications writing. This is a good market for English-language medical writers because Chinese researchers often receive incentives and rewards to publish their findings in international journals, says Platt. The proportion of academic biomedical publications with Chinese authors has grown from about 2.5% in 2002 to nearly 8% in 2012.

However, not all Chinese research studies and manuscripts are ready to be published in Western peer-reviewed journals. Many studies lack novelty and the appropriate methodology that peer-reviewed journals expect. Also, Chinese manuscripts often contain speculation and, because Chinese researchers are generally not familiar with the CONSORT guidelines for reporting randomized trials, are not well-organized. This is where the medical writer and publications specialist comes in, says Platt. A writer and editor who can help clean up the grammar and language in manuscript and organize it properly can be a great value to Chinese clients, he says.

A medical writer can also help the Chinese client manage expectations for the manuscript. Researchers the world over would love to see their work published in the New England Journal of Medicine, but not all studies and manuscripts are suited for the most prestigious journals. Platt says this presents challenges because Chinese researchers are often under pressure to publish in high-impact English-language journals, and the researchers can become quickly dissatisfied with the writer or consultant when the manuscript is rejected. So it's important to set the expectations up front and to be familiar with open-access journals that may be more likely to accept a manuscript and publish in a timely manner, Platt says.

Another challenge is that North American-based medical writers can easily price themselves out of the market because Chinese budgets are generally about half of those of North American or European clients, Platt says.

Doing Business in China

Contacts, at least a letter of introduction, are key. "If you're going to go there and do business, you'd better know somebody." Politically connected medical societies are the best way to gain access to researchers, experts and opinion leaders. If you have an area of specialty, Platt recommends contacting the secretary of the Chinese society for that specialty and asking for an introduction.

From there, plan on investing in plenty of face time before your contacts become clients. China has a much slower way of doing business, Platt says.

Kent Steinriede, MS, is a regulatory writer for Icon Clinical Research and Pennsylvania program chair for AMWA-DVC.



Edie Schwager joined AMWA in 1964 and served two consecutive terms as president of the Delaware Valley chapter (1973 to 1975). She shared her wisdom with AMWA members through her "Dear Edie" columns in the AMWA Journal and was honored by AMWA for numerous accomplishments spanning several decades.

By Kelleen N. Flaherty

Dear Edie,

No... "dear, dear, dear, dear, dear Edie."

I first met her in 1999, when I asked her to be a guest speaker in my introductory biomedical writing course in the Biomedical Writing programs at the University of the Sciences. I couldn't believe she said "yes."

She said "Let's go to dinner, instead." So we did, my whole class, to a restaurant near where she lived in west Philadelphia. She sat like a queen before her subjects, at the head of the table, and answered questions for two hours. Shot from the hip. No research.

Then she took us on a tour of her fantastical home, two stories of bookcases, books packed up to the ceiling, and the full OED on a wooden pedestal in the middle of the room, like a shrine. She was sweet and warm and welcoming, but to me it felt like an audience with royalty.

I wrote her a couple of questions for her column over the following ten years, but otherwise hadn't any contact, besides taking her seminar at an AMWA meeting. Then came the request from AMWA for locals to visit Edie in the nursing home where she resided, post-stroke, to help her continue with her column. It was about an hour away from where I lived, and I jumped at the chance.

I walked into her room. She looked at me, blinked, and said "Kelly!" It had been easily ten years since I had seen her. "I still have your CV in my files."

I hugged her; we talked for over two hours, got caught up, and went to work on her column. Monthly visits turned to near-weekly visits. I'd walk in and she'd say "business or pleasure?" I'd look at her to see how fatigued she was, and if she was, I'd keep the AMWA questions in my bag, sit down, hold her hand, and complain to her about my mother, who was making me crazy. "She needs to grow up," said Edie, once, and made me laugh.

I was mandated to bring her a chocolate milkshake every time I visited, made only with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup - not chocolate ice cream. Twelve ounces. I stopped at a Baskin and Robbins every time I went to see her, and had them make a chocolate shake - to her specs - and defiantly had it put in a fourteen-ounce cup, for which I was fortunately not upbraided. Every time I walked into the B&R, they'd just start manufacturing the milkshake.

I'd sit, hold her hand, laugh, and listen to her regale me with stories about her once having set Isaac Asimov straight, how she never missed a deadline, and how she had to fire the occasional client. She'd wax eloquent about her pet peeves: use of the word "verbal" when the correct word was "spoken," "vestigial tails" such as using an unnecessary "-ical" at the end of a word (eg, "pharmacological" vs "pharmacologic"), and "effectiveness" vs "efficacy."

The young nurses' aides adored her; Edie referred to them as "just a doll, a doll," and they smile, call her "Miss Edie," and remind me continually that she was an important medical editor. Edie had a very mischievous streak in her. An aide was once talking about the important medical stuff Miss Edie did, and Edie said with complete, gentle authority "You know, before the Ten Commandments were edited, the Seventh Commandment didn't have the word "not" in it." The aide - whom Edie knew was very religious - went wide-eyed. Edie strung her along for a bit, and then told her she was kidding. I was not up on my Commandments and I asked her what she had said, and Edie said "well, the Seventh Commandment read 'thou shalt commit adultery.'" And I was all like "jeez, Edie," and she chuckled sweetly and said "all in good fun."

Working on Edie's column with her was and remains the highlight of my medical writing career, and the most flattering opportunity I have ever had. Edie was sweet, funny, bright, and thankful for everything she had, right up to the end. I will miss her badly.

Kelleen N. Flaherty, MS, is Assistant Professor of Biomedical Writing at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, PA.



Sure, we are the Delaware Valley Chapter, which happens to be the largest chapter of AMWA. But, what does DVC really mean? What does our abbreviation represent? Let's create some new C's! How about Delaware Valley Challenge, Corner, or Content?!


Do you have fresh ideas or stories that will inspire or challenge our constituents in the Delaware Valley? Let us know!  


Can you share some helpful tips, tools and sites that will help others? Let's create a corner or section of our newsletter dedicated to ongoing tips, tools, and sites. Please send them our way!


Yes, you get the idea. We are seeking content for the Delawriter.

Help us help others in 2013!  Please email Amy at: delawriter@amwa-dvc.org 


Be sure you receive the Delawriter and our chapter announcements!

Just add: membercommunications@amwa-dvc.org to your safe sender email list to avoid having our messages blocked by your internet service or email program.



Published quarterly by the American Medical Writers Association-Delaware Valley Chapter 


Executive Editor: Jennifer Maybin

Editor: Amy Rovi  

Designers: Amy Rovi and Lori De Milto

Editorial Consultants: Elisha Darville, Robert Hand, Dawn Salamon, Alan Struthers, PhD, Jason Vian

E-mail List Manager: Ana Maria Rodriguez-Rojas


Changes of address/information:


e-mail: ronnie@amwa.org 

Mail: American Medical Writers Association

30 West Gude Drive, Suite 525

Rockville, MD 20850-1161

Phone: (301) 294-5303 



Copyright ©American Medical Writers Association-Delaware Valley Chapter 2013. You may not copy or reuse the content of this newsletter without our written permission.