50 Years of Life Sciences Learning

By January 7, 2021LTEN Focus On Training

50 Years of Life Sciences Learning

Directions – Dawn Brehm

What has remained the same is our mission.

Let’s play a quick round of trivia: What do Sandoz, Pfizer, Wyeth, Geigy and Organon have in common, aside from the fact all the companies have gone through massive transformation to the point that the namesake may no longer exist? To answer that question, let’s go back 50 years.

In March 1971, training leaders from these companies met and discussed building an association with a defined mission to improve pharmaceutical training. The idea grew quickly, and in September 1971, 25 training leaders met and formed the National Society of Pharmaceutical Sales Trainers (NSPST), which would eventually become known as LTEN.

Just to set the stage for that meeting, let’s remember 1971. Disney World opened with an adult ticket price of $3.50, and a little delivery service was born, named Federal Express. Fans were listening to James Taylor, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, The Who and a new group named The Eagles. A young actor named Morgan Freeman was in the cast of a new children’s show called The Electric Company, and the Bunkers were making people laugh on All in the Family.

Technology advances also are a hallmark of 1971, as we first heard the terms Silicon Valley, microprocessor, CAT scan, Kevlar, laser printer and Fujita scale. Space travel was a hot item with the launch of Apollo 14, Mariner 9 and the first Soviet space station. Innovation was in the air, and probably being talked about at this new Seattle coffee shop named Starbuck’s.

Time has flown, but it’s interesting how so many of those icons that joined us in 1971 had staying power … just like NSPST. And it’s telling how the challenges and solutions of yesterday are similar to what we face and what we create today.

It’s true: The more things evolve, the more they stay the same. NSPST evolved over 50 years to become LTEN, acknowledging the ever-changing healthcare landscape along the way. Today, our members include professionals on all sides of a larger, more vibrant life sciences industry. The technology our members utilize to deliver world-class training has changed from overhead projectors to white boards on computer screens to expert knowledge held in the palm of your hand and accessed on demand.

But not everything changes. What has remained the same is the mission of our organization to provide you, our members, with the skills development and resources to be the best you can be and to ensure our learners have the best experience possible. Our quest to excel at education so that patients and healthcare providers are the ultimate winners has never changed. And never will.

As we put the challenges of 2020 behind us, and optimistically look forward, we’re fortunate to be able to start the recovery with a celebration of 50 years of excellence for LTEN. This year, we’ll remember our roots and the hard work that built our network from a few people in a small room to an international network more than 2,000 members strong.

But we won’t rest on those laurels; we never have. Together — leadership, membership and staff — we started with a small spark from five forward-thinking individuals who realized that we are stronger together. To these bold innovators we are forever grateful: You’ve watched the blaze burn higher and higher for 50 years  now, and it’s still going strong.

Let’s celebrate our 50th together this year. And then we’ll start on 50 more.


Dawn Brehm is executive director of LTEN. Email Dawn at dbrehm@L-TEN.org.


About LTEN

The Life Sciences Trainers & Educators Network (www.L-TEN.org) is the only global 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization specializing in meeting the needs of life sciences learning professionals. LTEN shares the knowledge of industry leaders, provides insight into new technologies, offers innovative solutions and communities of practice that grow careers and organizational capabilities. Founded in 1971, LTEN has grown to more than 3,200 individual members who work in pharmaceutical, biotech, medical device and diagnostic companies, and industry partners who support the life sciences training departments.

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