Messages from the ISPOR Presidents

Lou Garrison, PhD

Lou Garrison, PhD

2016-2017, ISPOR President
Professor, Pharmaceutical Outcomes Research & Policy Program
School of Pharmacy University of Washington
Seattle, WA, USA

Dear Colleagues,

I am honored and privileged to have the opportunity to serve as President of ISPOR this coming year, following in the footsteps of the two decades of dedicated and effective presidents we have been fortunate to have. More than ever, I realize how very lucky I am to have chosen this fascinating and challenging scientific field and to join this ISPOR bandwagon early on.

Over the past 20 years, the growth in our numbers and the geographic and disciplinary diversity of ISPOR has been phenomenal, owing to the vision and energy of our founding executive director Dr. Marilyn Dix Smith. Marilyn left ISPOR with strong new leadership, a superb staff, and a solid financial foundation. We cannot thank her enough for all that she accomplished on our behalf.

Our immediate past presidents Adrian Towse and Bill Crown have led us during this transition period, which resulted in the selection of our very capable and dynamic new CEO & Executive Director Nancy Berg. Together they led a strategic review building on our Vision 2020 that has updated our mission and vision, which I fully support.


Our new mission is:  To promote health economics and outcomes research excellence to improve decision making for health globally.

In this statement, the phrase “health economics and outcomes research” emphasizes that we have moved beyond pharmacoeconomics to explicitly consider devices, diagnostics, procedures and other health sector interventions.  Research and scientific excellence remains our key goal, and we want improve to decision-making for health globally—in all countries and regions of the world. And not just decisions at the technology adoption level but at all levels of decision-making for health---from the physician-patient encounter to broad decisions about health system vs. other non-health priorities, such as education.  

And we want to share learning and good practice as well as build capacity around the world where it is needed. This global aspect is critically important: we have over 20,000 members in some 120 countries.   When you absorb that fact, you realize that we—as an organization— are well-positioned with tremendous potential to have a positive impact on health globally—and not just by sheer numbers but by the quality of our science.  The medical product and decision processes that we study are based on information—about how a molecule affects the body or about how well an HTA process works—and the knowledge created is a global public good, potentially benefitting the over 7 billion people on the planet.

Built on a foundation of core organizational values including a commitment to scientific excellence and ethical behavior, we have defined four key pillars to support our mission:  scientific and research excellence, member engagement, education and training, and communication and collaboration. Continued progress in each of these areas is needed to realize our vision to be “the leading scientific and organization for health economics and outcomes research and their use in decision making to improve health.”  We are a member-driven organization, and leveraging our large numbers and the considerable goodwill of all of the membership will be critical to our continued success in the long run.

I remember a plenary session at one of early meetings when someone stood up and suggested that we should license pharmacoeconomists (and of course grandfather-in all of those in those in attendance).  I am very happy that we resisted that temptation.  To our credit—and I’m sure it’s a big factor in our success—we opened our tent to all who are interested in our mission.   We now have a large, diverse, and vibrant membership, both geographically and on disciplinary basis.   And we are nimble and able to address emerging trends from patient-centeredness to value frameworks to universal health coverage.

As you know, producing outstanding meetings is critical to our success, and we have a solid legacy here, but protecting our reputation for high-quality and relevance requires vigilance.  During this next year, I will join the meeting in Singapore and lead the organization of the meetings in Vienna and Boston, which is a very important responsibility.  I hope you will be able to attend those meetings.

I would also like to focus my efforts on the three areas that I mentioned in my original vision statement:

  • Supporting our global network to expand capacity in outcomes research
  • Continuing to improve the science of outcomes research through our Task Forces and journals
  • Collaboration with allied organizations


Over 30 years go, in my early days at Project HOPE, I went to Jamaica and Poland to teach health economics. Since then, I have taught or lectured in many countries. Last year, I helped kick off the Kenya Chapter and met with the Uganda Chapter. I look forward to meeting many more Chapter members and leaders this year.


We want to improve the science of HEOR through our Task Forces and journals, continuing to produce high quality Good Practice Task Force Reports and ensuring that our publications Value in Health, Value in Health Regional Issues and Value & Outcomes Spotlight remain top quality and continue to improve.

I was very pleased to be involved in the recruitment on our new CSO—Dick Willke who has hit the ground running and—I am convinced—will make a great contribution to our efforts to produce strong scientific content.

As former chair of the ISPOR Health Policy Council, and co-chair of two Task Forces, I have witnessed the selfless commitment of our members to the development and dissemination of good research practices in the name of science and improving population health.


In terms of communication and collaboration we are working with many allied organizations. To highlight a few, we have reached out to DIA and ASHEcon and other organization such as HTAi and AMCP, and in are discussions with other with public and private decision-makers through our HTA and Payer Councils

My good luck in all of this is due in large part to the fact that our many ISPOR members are professionals who basically want to do good:  as our mission says—“to promote health economics and outcomes research excellence to improve decision making for health globally.”

We are a member-driven organization from the meeting planning and execution to the many Task Forces and SIGs, and we are diligently working to further engage the full talents and dedication of all of our members.

In closing, I would like to offer my congratulations to the new and returning Board members.


Finally, I would like to thank Dan Malone, our immediate Past President. Dan is a great outcomes scientist and colleague, and a wonderful person. Working closely with our CEO & Executive Director Nancy Berg, he has done a superb job this past year as President. It has been a great pleasure to work with these two leaders and the full Board of Directors. Dan has made a major contribution to ISPOR during this period of transition. He will continue this next year on the Board and I know that I can count on him for active support and collaboration. Please join me in applauding his many accomplishments, including his great work with the student chapters, and in thanking him for his effective leadership.

Messages from the ISPOR Presidents