Racism is a “chronic disease” plaguing society, says BIO’s Dr. McMurry-Heath

June 4, 2020
We have an important announcement from BIO President and CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath about a new, must-attend BIO Digital session on race and the biotech industry. Here are about 500 words, 2 and a half minutes.

We have an important announcement from BIO President and CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath about a new, must-attend BIO Digital session on race and the biotech industry. Here are about 500 words, 2 and a half minutes.

Racism is a “chronic disease” plaguing society, says BIO’s Dr. McMurry-Heath

In the wake of tragic deaths and civil unrest, BIO’s President and CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath announced she will lead a panel discussion next week at BIO Digital with industry leaders on the state of race and equity within the biotechnology industry.

On Thursday, June 11, Leading Through Crisis: Speaking Up and Out on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Issues Impacting Our World will feature three dynamic speakers:

  • Tony Coles, CEO and Chair of the Board of Directors at Cerevel
  • Ted Love, President and CEO of Global Blood Therapeutics
  • Jeremy M. Levin, Chair of the BIO Board and CEO of Ovid Therapeutics 

We’ll dig into a lot of important topics—recent events and what they mean for society and our industry, advancing diversity in clinical trials, and the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on underrepresented populations.

Watch her talk about it:

Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath announces a new discussion on race and biotech.

Dr. McMurry-Heath also shared her thoughts on events that have taken place in recent days:

“To say our country is at a crossroads would be an understatement. For the past few months, the world has been confronted by an unprecedented challenge in COVID-19, the likes of which we have not experienced in quite some time. Our BIO member companies have rallied to heed the call, working around the clock in the hopes of not only developing near-term solutions, but also long-term cures. And while this represents a more recent challenge, a more chronic disease has continued to plague the United States and many nations around the world for quite some time – racism.

“It’s a word most of us are uncomfortable uttering in polite company, but one that we no less must get comfortable addressing. The senseless killings of George Floyd in Minnesota, Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, and Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia have all forced the nation to confront an ugly truth, and that is, despite the tremendous progress we’ve made, we still have a long way to go. 

“The peaceful protests taking place today are an important reminder that, only when the voices of Black Americans are heard and their experiences fully understood, will we begin the important process of healing that our nation so desperately needs in this moment. For our part, BIO stands with these peaceful protestors and hope that these concerns are not only amplified in the streets, but in the boardrooms and the halls of political power across our country that serve as important agents for change. 

“When I decided to pursue medicine nearly 30 years ago, I did so out of a burning desire to have a positive impact on my community. Health disparities for people of color, then and now, were prevalent and it was my hope that I would use my skills to help improve the patient experience and improve patient outcomes. And while we have made some important progress, we have a long way to go – the data is clear, as communities of color confronting COVID-19 are by far the hardest hit both medically and economically. 

“I will never pretend to have all the answers, but I am committed to be a leader dedicated to finding solutions. I will seek to address the insidiousness of racism globally and work with our member companies to identify ways in which we can tackle the issues of diversity that far too often are lacking in our ranks and, most importantly, improve patient care for all patients in the process.”

Click here to register for BIO Digital and join us for this important conversation.

Visit www.bio.org/right-mix-matters to learn more about what you can do to make our industry more inclusive.


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“Lonza, which hopes to make smaller batches of active ingredients for the U.S. biotechnology company’s experimental vaccine by July, now aims to finish a commercial production line in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, a month or so earlier than its original December 2020 target." 

New I AM BIO Podcast!

In the latest episode of the I AM BIO podcast, we examine the people of Iceland — a country of 360,00 people — who eagerly volunteered for genetic research on how the coronavirus affects a homogeneous population. Amgen’s Dr. David Reese discusses how his company’s work could deliver answers and antibodies to help mitigate the pandemic threat. Listen at www.bio.org/podcast or Apple, Google, or Spotify.

BIO Beltway Report

President Trump’s Thursday: He’s expected to sign an executive order on expedited permitting.

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: The House and Senate are in session. CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield will testify during a House Appropriations hearing. The House Committee on Oversight and Reform will hold a panel on racial health disparities during the coronavirus crisis.

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