Editor-in-Chief Message
My First Forty Years at DIA
Alberto Grignolo
Editor-in-Chief, DIA Global Forum

became a DIA member in 1984 when I was an entry-level Regulatory Associate in a large pharmaceutical company. I knew very little, but I knew that I needed to learn a great deal more.

In 2024, I am the Editor-in-Chief of DIA Global Forum and a Fellow of DIA.

In between, I grew up as a professional and I learned many things, in good measure thanks to DIA.

But now, there is so much more to be learned to build our future. And DIA, in this 60th anniversary year and beyond, is a really cool place to find it, to learn together, and to build our future together.

Since we ask that all Global Forum articles follow a simple logical flow to pique our readers’ interest—What, So What, Now What—I will follow our own precept here.

WHAT: DIA was born, has grown, and has reinvented itself multiple times over the past six decades. It has become a well-recognized global “home”: an educator, a neutral influencer, a convenor of thought leaders, practitioners, and numerous other stakeholders who bring innovative ideas to benefit patients everywhere.

At its origin, DIA addressed the need for more, better, and more reliable information about medicines in an age when that information was hard to find. The “internet generation” would not understand this any more than they would appreciate how we somehow managed to get through the day without the web and smartphones. Back then, a New Drug Application comprised hundreds of thick volumes of paper and was shipped physically to regulators (in trucks); soon, New Drug Applications will be stored entirely in the “cloud” and will be viewed and assessed simultaneously by dozens of global regulators—no physical filings and no trucks. The entire ecosystem has evolved dramatically but organically, and DIA in parallel with it, expanding its focus gradually from drug information to global public health, and remaining a focal point for information, education, continuity, and stability, even during the pandemic and despite regional conflicts.

SO WHAT: At the societal level, this matters because the world (and DIA) now focuses increasingly on patients and their health. Importantly, DIA has become a “connective tissue” across international borders regardless of concurrent geopolitical issues or tensions to consistently operate in the best interest of patients. Whether in person or virtually, rising above expected and unexpected challenges, DIA has continued to create opportunities for global dialogue, learning, and networking, and for both organizational and individual growth.

This matters for individual DIA members because people who work together support each other and make things happen. Half of the people I know I met at DIA and in numerous countries on every continent.

When I lived and worked in Japan for two years more than a decade ago, DIA Japan was an additional “home” for me and helped me learn and forge lasting relationships with new friends and colleagues there and throughout East Asia. By working with committees, on many programs and on the DIA Board in the past four decades, I learned a great deal about people and about topics and trends that matter. I found that I received a lot more from DIA than I put in and that being the smartest person in the room was not necessary (or, for me, possible) to make a meaningful contribution in collaboration with diverse others. A little humility and vulnerability go a long way toward getting things done. DIA taught me that 90% of life is about showing up, being reliable, and doing the work. DIA has been my “parallel universe” alongside my professional and personal lives and has enriched me to this day.

NOW WHAT: Our future is under construction, and we are its builders. My call to all of you is to get involved, make a difference, make new friends, and change your corner of the world. Join a DIA Community or be a volunteer, a speaker, a session chair, a Committee Member, a Board Member, or even the Board Chair. What you will receive in return will be priceless.

DIA has succeeded because DIA has always been neutral, increasingly diverse, inclusive, and welcoming to all stakeholders: to the regulators, the regulated, and everyone in between. DIA’s neutrality will remain a constant. There is only one exception to this neutrality: DIA consistently advocates for the patient. To this (non-negotiable) end, DIA must also welcome payers, health technology assessors (HTAs), and similar stakeholders whose decisions are the final gateway to patients’ access to the medicines they need. DIA must also continue to prepare the next generation of leaders and changemakers, both “giving back” and “paying it forward” through training, DIA Communities, the Career Circles mentored by DIA Fellows, and its publications and webinars.

We don’t know what the world will be like in 2064 or how many of us reading this will see it. But we can work together now to make it what we and our descendants will want it to be.

Alberto Grignolo headshot
Alberto Grignolo
Editor-in-Chief, DIA Global Forum