Cognition workshop and a new Prince

Another week and more new experiences with Save the Children.  I traveled to London Saturday night for a week long meeting in London with Save the Children.  So right out the chute…2 hour delay at Dulles.  Something about a light that would or wouldn’t turn on/off.  Who ever knows what they are talking about.  Anyway “they” fixed it and off we go over the pond.  Arrived at Heathrow, cleared customs quickly, off on the tube and to the hotel.  It is HOT here in London and pretty limited AC.  Met with the Save staff and had a great Turkish meal and made plans for the week.

Day 1 – Monday – Off to Save the Children International.  Beautiful office in central London.  The first set of meetings was to meet the International team and for the US team to do a bit of introductions and strategize for 2013 – 2014.  There are Save US staff from Washington, DC, Mumbai, Toronto, Paris, La Paz, and Mali.  Very interesting cross section of staff and experience levels.  At lunch we traveled across town to Save the Children UK.  I was able to connect with Morag McLaren and David Mobbs, my fellow GSK’ers who are with the Save UK office.  So great to meet them and briefly talk about our experiences.  It is good to know that we all are experiencing the same ups and downs and am not alone.  Thanks again to them for taking time out to chat and having a soda with me.  Then one of my managers gave her talk to the Save UK office about the importance of MHM (Menstrual Hygiene Management).  I have heard this talk before but it is still very moving and disturbing every time I hear it.  There is so much to do!  After a quick English pub lunch (I had an Eggplant sandwich and proper English Chips…yummy), back to Save International for a continuation meeting for the 2013 – 2014 plan.  We did a brainstorming exercise and added 30+ items that we can work on.  Now there is no way the team can do it all and some items where a bit of the same…but I was both sadden and inspired by the list.  Again an inspiring group of dedicated staff who want to do it all but there are only so many hours in the day but more importantly only so much financing available.  After the meeting we walked through London and went by Buckingham Palace…loads of people there waiting for news of the new Prince and alas tonight we got news – a new Prince!  I know I am a cheesy American but good news is always nice…

Day 2 – Tuesday – Off to the Institute of Education in London.  PhD’s from many elite institutions are here to talk about cognition research.  All I can say is WOW.  There are cognitive scientists from the US, Canada, Africa, UK and the EU.  There was also a representative from WHO.  Many interesting presentation about the history of cognition and then case studies.  I found the case studies very helpful.  A few global thoughts –

  1. Every different academic firm do things the same but very differently.  Sounded like pharmaceutical clinical trials.  There were many good discussions about how to streamline the procedures.  Which is the whole point of the conference.
  2. We had an interesting talk about the cost of all of these tests.  GSK uses many statically validated test and we are use to pay for them.  They are pretty pricey.  The thing is these University’s and NGO’s don’t have as much money as private sector firms who use these tests too and even more importantly some of these epidemiology trials have tens of thousands of subjects.  We heard about a trial in Indonesia where they enrolled over 41,000 families.  This trial was over 10 years with many assessments.  Some of these test at $2 a pop.  Big money that the University and NGO doesn’t have.

I’d like to talk about #2.  My initial thought was “well it is intellectual property and what can you do”.  However the WHO representative had a interesting point – she used the pharmaceutical example of drugs going generic after x # of years.  These assessments don’t really go off copyright.  I mean, they do eventually, but it is after decades.  And by then there will be new tests.  I had another thought – why don’t these publishing firms do like pharmaceutical firms due with a tiered pricing structure.  Everyone knows that the price an American pays is different then a Canadian is different then a Kenyan and so on.  So why not use that model.  Different scales for different groups.  It isn’t as complicated as it sounds as there are only a small handful of publishing firms that control this data.  Something for the NGOs/Universities to think and act on.

The day is wrapping up and we are off to the pub to network some more.  Had a great time at the pub and some very interesting conversations.  I had a conversation with a researcher from Kenya who talked to me about a health research project she did with the Aboriginal people and how she “blew up” the silo model and used intertwining circles.  This is exactly the smack on the back of my head I needed.  How if my NGO will feel the same way…I will let you all know.

I will upload another post in a few days when the conference is complete.

Doug