Nancy Brucken

Al Barron

Nancy Brucken
Senior Data Consultant
Health Data Innovations

How long have you been using SAS®?

26 years.

What SAS products have you used in the past? What products and solutions are you currently using?

Most of my career has been spent in Base SAS, SAS/GRAPH®, SAS/ACCESS® and SAS/STAT®. I've made a handful of forays into SAS/IntrNet® (mostly proof-of-concept applications that, for various reasons, never got off the ground). I'm currently using SAS Drug Development 3.4 for a client, and recently participated in a test of SAS Clinical Data Integration Studio.

What is a problem you have solved using SAS?

One of the more unusual problems I've solved was the annual Joint Pole Survey that we did when I worked at the local phone company. We had to take a sample of telephone poles so that field technicians could determine whether a selected pole was owned and/or used by both the phone and electric companies. This allowed the companies to sort out who owed how much rent (and to whom) for pole usage. I remember writing a SAS program to pull a sample and compute the estimates when the results came in.

What is the most innovative way you have used SAS?

I built a table-driven mapping system to integrate data from more than 20 clinical studies into a single database for an FDA submission. The key was to completely normalize the data before executing the guts of the system, and we were able to meet some fairly tight deadlines on the project. The system itself was presented in a paper at PharmaSUG 2006: Mapping Clinical Data to a Standard Structure: A Table Driven Approach.

What is your most memorable SAS moment?

That would be having a drug approved by the FDA that I had worked on for six years, and being part of a team that built a customized SAS/AF® driven menu system as part of the FDA submission. The reviewers used that system to review the data from our clinical studies, modify patient outcomes when deemed necessary, and rerun all of our tables and analyses to determine the effect of their changes on the outcome of the study. They worked on it for two years, and in that whole time, I only received one phone call with a question regarding the system.

How has SAS changed in the time you have been using it?

I started running SAS 5.16 on a CMS system, and am now using SAS 9.2 on a PC, and SAS 9.1.3 in SDD. In between, there were stops in SAS 5.18 and various flavors of SAS 6 and SAS 8, on MVS/TSO, VMS, UNIX and Windows. In SAS 8, for the first time, I was able to run just a section of code and immediately look at the resulting data set (without having to insert a PROC PRINT). It was amazing. It changed my whole program development process, and is one of the reasons I find SDD such a challenge to deal with at present.

Have you ever attended a SAS users group meeting or SAS Global Forum? If yes, please list them.

Yes – I have attended SAS Global Forum and PharmaSUG many times (more than 10 times each, at least), plus the Michigan SAS Users Group, as well as in-house users group meetings at various companies.

Has your work with SAS been influenced by any other members of the SAS community?

Yes, definitely. I've been a long-time lurker and occasional poster on SAS-L, and the coding techniques I've learned there have made a huge difference in the quality and stability of code I've written. My programming skills took a huge jump once I discovered SAS-L. Howard Schreier's self-join to pull in data from subsequent records in a data set and the DOW-loop popularized by Ian Whitlock and Paul Dorfman are just two of the constructs that I use regularly in my code.

If you could point a new SAS user to one resource, what would it be?

That's a tough question, because there are many excellent resources out there. I'd have to start with Lex Jansen's website (www.lexjansen.com) because it has so many papers from so many conferences, and it's searchable.

SAS Circle of Excellence - 20 Years

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