Senate confirms Dr. Rachel Levine

March 25, 2021
Today, we look at a historic and important Senate confirmation and how your candy habit can help solve climate change. Plus, wisdom from a biotech industry leader on why relationships matter. (941 words, 4 minutes, 42 seconds) P.S. BioNJ is hosting a virtual…
BIO

Today, we look at a historic and important Senate confirmation and how your candy habit can help solve climate change. Plus, wisdom from a biotech industry leader on why relationships matter. (941 words, 4 minutes, 42 seconds)

P.S. BioNJ is hosting a virtual conference on diversity, equity, and inclusion—and today, BIO’s Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer Elliott Francis will lead a conversation with BIO leaders Dr. Jeremy Levin of Ovid Therapeutics and Paul Hastings of Nkarta Therapeutics. Click here for details and registration.

 

Senate confirms Dr. Rachel Levine

 
 

Yesterday, the Senate confirmed Dr. Rachel Levine as Assistant Secretary for Health and Human Services, making her the first openly transgender official to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Here’s what you need to know. 

Dr. Levine has experience leading through crisis. A pediatrician, she served as Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Public Health (2017-2021) during both the COVID-19 pandemic and the opioid crisis. Previously, she was unanimously confirmed by the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania State Senate to the post of Physician General of Pennsylvania in 2015. 

Yesterday, she was confirmed 52-48, with Republican Sens. Susan Collins (ME) and Lisa Murkowski (AK) joining Democrats in voting in favor.

“The confirmation of Rachel Levine represents another important milestone for the American LGBTQ community,” said Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). “As transgender Americans suffer higher rates of abuse, homelessness, and depression than almost every other group, it's important to have national figures like Dr. Levine who by virtue of being in the public spotlight will help break down barriers of ignorance and fear.” 

Representation matters—especially in health care. One pillar of the BIOEquality Agenda is to expand opportunities in health care and biotechnology for women and other underrepresented populations—including the LGBTQ+ community—so the biotech industry can be representative of the patients we serve.

BIO congratulates Dr. Levine and looks forward to working with her to advance health for all patients.

 

More Health Care News: 

NBC4 Washington: Novavax trials highlight dozens of Maryland companies fighting COVID
“About 40 companies in Maryland are playing some role in the coronavirus response, either by producing a vaccine, medication, therapeutics, diagnostic tests, or supplying research, according to Martin Rosendale, the chief executive of Maryland Tech Council, a trade association that supports technology and life science companies.”

 
 
 
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A sweet and sustainable partnership

 
 

A “sweet” new partnership is about more than candy—it's the perfect example of how biotechnology solutions can address both climate change and environmental racism. 

BIO member Danimer Scientific just announced a partnership with Mars Wrigley to produce Skittles in compostable packaging.

Danimer is the first company to market a biopolymer material that looks and feels like ordinary plastic but is completely biodegradableexactly the kind of biotech solution we need to make an impact on climate change.

This is just one of many biotech-driven solutions to climate change—which range from sustainable aviation fuels that emit less carbon, to gene editing and synthetic biology making crops more resilient in the face of drought and pests, as two examples.

Climate change negatively affects people, too—and disproportionately communities of color, through a system of discriminatory health, environmental, and housing policies

And bioplastic can help this, too. There is “growing research that indicates communities of color use more plastic and are less likely to have a plastic ban, which means more plastic ends up on the streets and in their water sources,” as BIO’s Cornelia Poku explained.

So, we have solutions—now we need to advance them. Here's how policy can help.

Watch: Today, the House Science Subcommittee on Energy hearing “Building Technologies Research for a Sustainable Future” will discuss sustainable solutions for climate change with witnesses from scientific research labs as well as the NAACP.

Listen: Danimer’s Chief Marketing Officer Scott Tuten joined the I AM BIO Podcast last year to talk about the company’s biodegradable bioplastic. Listen on Apple or wherever you get your podcasts.

 

More Agriculture and Environment News: 

The Guardian: Disease outbreaks more likely in deforestation areas, study finds
“Land use change is a significant factor in the emergence of zoonotic viruses such as COVID-19 and vector-borne ailments such as malaria, says the paper, published on Wednesday in Frontiers in Veterinary Science.” 

The New York Times: Biden’s recovery plan bets big on clean energy
“The president’s plan, worth up to $4 trillion, represents a fundamental shift in the way Democrats talk about tackling climate change: It’s no longer a side issue.” 

 
 
 
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WHM-Rachel-King.jpg

“Remember that relationships and people are what matter most,” said Rachel King, CEO and Co-Founder of GlycoMimetics, when asked what advice she’d like to give her younger self.

These relationships include family, friends, and colleagues—but for our industry, they also include the people whose lives our work touches. 

Rachel has dedicated her career to driving innovative breakthroughs for patients. In 2003, she founded GlycoMimetics to develop new medicines to treat various blood diseases. Among other roles, she was a senior vice president at Novartis Corporation, and previously spent 10 years with Genetic Therapy Inc., which she ran after it was sold to Novartis.

Named one of the Top 10 Women in Biotech by FierceBiotech and Executive of the Year by the Maryland Technology Council, King is devoted to helping small, emerging biotechs bring new cures to patients and serves on several boards (including BIO's). 

King earned her B.A. from Dartmouth and M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.  

 
BIO Beltway Report
BIO Beltway Report
 
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President Biden’s Thursday: Holding his first formal press conference at 1:15 PM ET, then meeting virtually with the European Council. 

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will testify on the state of Black farmers in the United States, and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg will discuss the administration’s infrastructure priorities. Three more hearings to watch today: 

9:30 AM ET – Senate Finance Committee: How U.S. International Tax Policy Impacts American Workers, Jobs, and Investment

10:00 AM ET - Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee: Examining Our COVID-19 Response: Improving Health Equity and Outcomes by Addressing Health Disparities

1:00 PM ET - House Ways & Means Oversight Subcommittee: Examining Private Equity’s Expanded Role in the U.S. Health Care System

 
 
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