Thinking Way Outside The Box

| April 7, 2019 | 0 Comments

Every day I am amazed by the announcements I receive from people dealing with issues impacting our world. A lot of time and resources have been allotted to changing the status quo and to bring about meaningful and quantifiable results. What I find most refreshing is that people in our world are actually willing to ask themselves, “Have we really given this cause, program, service, initiative, and product our full attention, and with the right attitude so that it is much more impactful and beneficial?”

Obviously, in order to be at that place, to have that focus, they often need to think “way outside the box,” outside the norms of society. And that means they have to be willing to feel uncomfortable. Change and thinking outside the “norm” is uncomfortable. Yet, the end results can be very rewarding.

Besides “going against the status quo,” the next important factor is that these individuals approach their effort with a “positive, can do” attitude. Which means, they anticipate the pros and cons, as well as the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of their ideas/concepts. They must be prepared and willing to accept resistance, rebuttals and be challenged to the core. Again, they must be willing to be uncomfortable in order to bring about change. Yet, with the “right/can do/positive attitude” success can follow.

One of the programs that recently caught my attention has been designed to streamline drug approvals to spur innovation and lower treatment costs. What a concept!

To prove their drugs are safe and effective, drug makers undergo lengthy FDA clinical trials. In the first phase, only a few patients receive the experimental treatment to make sure it’s safe for human consumption. In the second phase, several hundred sick patients receive the medicine to determine its effectiveness and any adverse effects. During the final phase, thousands are given the drug to detect any un-noted medical complications.

It can take more than a decade for researchers to obtain approval. Patients can’t wait that long.

That’s where adaptive clinical trials come in. These trials allow researchers to alter their testing mid-course based on data they’ve already collected. If they hit a dead end, scientists won’t waste their time or money.

The “Precision Promise” responsive adaptive trial sponsored by the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network is a great example. Participating pancreatic cancer patients will receive multiple drugs simultaneously.

Many of these participants will be given an investigational cancer therapeutic drug known as SM-88. The drug is designed to destroy cancer cells’ metabolism to inhibit any growth. This all happens without sacrificing quality of life.

Other therapies expected in this Precision Promise trial include investigational therapies for patients with specific genetic mutations and investigational agents designed to improve drug delivery to the tumor.

Patients will have access to higher-performing investigational therapies as the trial progresses.

The adaptive nature of this design could completely transform treatment of pancreatic cancer, which has a 95 percent fatality rate. Roughly 44,000 Americans will die of pancreatic cancer this year. That’s because there is no cure, at least, not yet.

Another meaningful program that is being initiated here in San Diego is the Beyond Prison Walls Playwrights Project and San Diego State University’s 7th Collage Collaboration.

The plays illuminate the prison pipeline and offer insights on responsibility, hope, transformation, and love. This season of “Collage” features scripts written in Playwrights Project’s “Out of the Yard” program by playwrights at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility, Centinela State Prison, The Lighthouse, and Male Community Reentry Program.

I think we all realize that recidivism (the tendency of a convicted criminal to reoffend) is extremely high. Fortunately, there are efforts around the country, as well as here in San Diego, to change “that norm.” It enlists prisoners to become writers, to share their stories and gain self-awareness, as well as self-esteem.

If you are interested in learning more about Prison Programs, you are invited to the Saturday, April 20 performances for a Showcase of Prison Programs at SDSU. Presentations from Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility’s Community Support Network will be held from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in SDSU’s Experimental Theatre. From 4 to 7 p.m., an informal resource fair will take place in the courtyard adjacent to the theatre.

Participating organizations include Jail Guitar Doors, Playwrights Project, Prison Yoga Program, Project Rebound, Project PAINT, and TLC POOCH Program. If you are interested in attending the play or learning more about the program, contact

As you can expect, it “thrills me” that there are innovative people living among us who are entrepreneurs and initiators who aren’t afraid to challenge themselves and the status quo.

Now, maybe we can do our part to encourage them and their efforts. By the way, are you also willing to think outside the box?

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