What’s in a Name? Why APPI is Now APCR
What’s in a name? Quite a bit, as it turns out.
Shakespeare’s Juliet famously asked the question, “What’s in a name?” and wistfully noted that “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Reading on, however, we learn that the Bard knew far more about human nature than his smitten title character, whose fallacy he exposed with trademark irony. Names actually matter a lot. For good or for bad, names shape perceptions—both in the arts and the real world—and, in the case of Romeo and Juliet, the wrong name led to a tragic ending.
In perhaps less dramatic, but no less passionate, fashion, Dr. Jonathan Seltzer, our immediate past president, has led a tireless effort to rebrand our organization over the past year. Understanding how a new name could reinforce the success of this transformation, Jon has worked with me and various colleagues on many issues and made a compelling case to the Board of Trustees to approve a “label change.” Last month, this change became official. APPI (the Academy of Pharmaceutical Physicians
and Investigators) became APCR (the Academy of Physicians in Clinical Research).
Much thought went into this name change—and for good reason. Many of us, myself included, liked the name APPI, particularly for the rhythmic ease as it rolled off the tongue. (I admit to daydreaming about possible catchy slogans for a membership drive—e.g., “Don’t worry, be APPI” or “APPIness is . . . Joining.”)
Despite the pithiness of the acronym, our old name didn’t work on an important level. “APPI” pigeonholed the organization. Many outsiders saw the name APPI and assumed the organization only represented the narrow interests of the pharmaceutical industry, a perception in contrast with the aspirations of our membership, which views the organization much more expansively. In fact, our members are employed in a great variety of settings. We are community-based investigators, academicians, consultants, and regulators, as well as physicians who ply their trade for pharmaceutical companies. Collectively, we work in increasingly diverse spheres—often far afield from traditional small molecule pharmaceutical development—such as vaccines, biologic agents, medical devices, and behavioral or medical economic research.
Given this diversity, I consider it vitally important to make “who we are” crystal clear to our target audience— all physicians who are either directly or indirectly involved in any element of clinical research.
A few additional points about our new marque deserve comment: First, the APCR board agreed to continue to refer to our organization as an Academy, which is a decision I strongly advocated. Using the term “Academy,” rather than “Society,” “Association,” or “Group,” reflects our commitment to promoting, first and foremost, a knowledge-based agenda. Second, by highlighting the word “Physicians,” we hope to leverage the commonality inherent in the physician community. Despite differences in what we do day to day, physicians share common sensibilities by virtue of our extended training, respect for academia, and exposure to heuristics that view human beings both holistically and as a series of parts and interrelated systems. Finally, by including the term “Clinical Research,” we stand arm in arm with our brethren members of the Association of Clinical Research Professionals—united both in phraseology and mission.
Our new title sets the stage for organizational growth and greater relevance. Starting this month, APCR will launch a membership drive aimed at a broad group of physicians. We will focus our message on the “ACE” value proposition—Advocacy, Competence and Exchange—that we introduced last year. Through this value proposition, and by growing our membership among the people who now play various roles in the clinical research enterprise, the voice of APCR should become ever more resonant. All of us can contribute. It doesn’t matter if we tarry “under the lights” or “behind the scenes,” or whether we labor in academic behavioral research labs, frenetic VA clinics, private practice, industry, or government. Together, I firmly believe we can make a difference and develop a forum where our members can solve problems for themselves, for our industry, and for the greater good.
To further this agenda, I plan to use this space over the next year to highlight seminal issues affecting clinical research that should motivate and unite our membership. Stay tuned!
Finally, I’d like to give voice to our new name by suggesting that we pronounce it as “Apcar.” I admit that advocating this pronunciation may be a bit self-serving, since I still have difficulty from time to time in clearly articulating the separate letters “A” “P” “C” and “R.” Perhaps more importantly, however, the acronym should be viewed as gesture of the deepest respect to the memory of Dr. Virginia Apgar, the brilliant obstetric anesthesiology researcher who would have doubtlessly joined our Academy, had she still been among the quick. I hope you share my love for this oblique connection to a great clinical researcher of the past. Plus, the pronunciation lends itself to a captivating epigram: “We all win when APCR scores.”
Michael J. Koren, MD, FACC, CPI®, APCR President