Two innovators breaking new ground in the bioeconomy

September 18, 2020
Shanah Tovah to our readers celebrating Rosh Hashanah. Today, meet the winners of our BIO IMPACT Digital awards, and take a deeper dive into why diversity matters in clinical trials, in 840 words, just over 4 minutes.

Shanah Tovah to our readers celebrating Rosh Hashanah. Today, meet the winners of our BIO IMPACT Digital awards, and take a deeper dive into why diversity matters in clinical trials, in 840 words, just over 4 minutes.

Two innovators breaking new ground in the bioeconomy

Ahead of BIO IMPACT Digital, we announced the winners of the Rosalind Franklin and George Washington Carver Awards, recognizing individuals who’ve made significant contributions towards building and strengthening the biobased economy. 

2020 Rosalind Franklin Award for Leadership in Industrial Biotechnology and Agriculture (Sponsored by the Rosalind Franklin Society): Dr. Emily Leproust, CEO and Co-Founder of Twist Bioscience, which manufactures DNA and DNA-based products to improve human health and sustainability.

Under Emily’s leadership, the company built a silicon-based DNA synthesis platform that offers greater precision and scalability—and now, they’re using it to develop COVID-19 solutions.

“At Twist, we stand on the shoulders of giants like DNA pioneer Rosalind Franklin, advancing DNA-based products to write the future of chemical, medical, food, and even data storage,” she said. “We continue to push the boundaries of what is possible, disrupting markets to improve health and sustainability through precisely written DNA.”

2020 George Washington Carver Award for Innovation in Industrial Biotechnology and Agriculture (Sponsored by the Iowa Biotechnology Association): Dr. Pramod Chaudhari, Executive Chairman and Founder of Praj Industries Limited, one of India’s most accomplished project and process engineering companies, which is developing renewable liquid and gas transportation biofuels and bioplastics. 

A first-generation tech entrepreneur dedicated to decarbonization and growing the bioeconomy, Pramod is credited with setting up the UK’s first bio-ethanol plant and supplying the technology for 100% of Colombia’s ethanol program.

Pramod has a “passion for planet, people, and prosperity,” he said. “I dedicate this award to the focused endeavors by team Praj and everyone across the world who directly and indirectly participated in the journey to nurture a sustainable future.”

Want to meet the winners? Join us next Monday and Tuesday for BIO IMPACT Digital, where they will be honored during a fireside chat.

46 Days to Go...visit to get registered and get informed.
BET and the National Urban League have joined with other civil rights advocacy organizations to declare September 18th National Black Voter Day, promoting Black voter registration, education, mobilization, and turnout. For more information, visit

To verify your voter registration or polling location, learn how to request a mail-in ballot, and get more information on the issues and candidates, visit

We need to build bridges to eliminate disparities

We learned this week that children from racial and ethnic minorities are much more likely to die from COVID-19 than white children—yet another troubling sign of the racial disparities in health care. We have some ideas on what to do about it.

COVID-19 disparities by the numbers: Hispanic, Black, American Indian, Alaska Native, and Asian or Pacific Islander children have accounted for 75% of deaths under the age of 21according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

And it’s not just COVID-19 we need to worry about. While cancer death rates have been falling overall, Black Americans still face the highest risk, and have had the highest cancer death rate for 40 years, reports Axios.

As just one example, African American men and women face a greater risk of dying from prostate cancer (111%) and breast cancer (39%), respectively, compared to white men and women, according to a new report from the American Association for Cancer Research.

So, what can we do? For starters, we need to “build bridges in the African American community,” wrote BIO’s Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath in Nature Biotech. “To make sure the treatments for COVID-19 and other illnesses are safe and effective on members of minority and vulnerable populations, it is important to have their participation in clinical trials. So we need to build confidence, have an open and honest dialogue about the past, and work with local community leaders who can be that trusted voice.”

To work towards this goal, we launched the BIOEquality Agenda, a national effort to focus on health equity, investment in current and future researchers, and expanded opportunities for women and other underrepresented populations.

Dr. Michelle’s Diagnosis: At this galvanizing moment of national awakening, BIO is challenging our industry and its members to walk the talk of racial equity in hiring and promotions, clinical trial enrollment, and the bioeconomy. We believe the biotech industry can not only save lives, but also advance equal opportunity and social justice by creating more entry points for minority scientists and more advancement into leadership positions. We also have an obligation to make sure our transformative scientific breakthroughs are accessible and affordable to underrepresented communities. BIO President and CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath


More Health Care News: 

: Vaccine leaders make trial plans public in transparency push
“Makers of the leading coronavirus vaccine candidates [including Moderna and Pfizer] disclosed detailed information about their pivotal late-stage clinical trials and how they plan to gauge their shots’ safety and effectiveness.”

Newsy: Who gets the COVID-19 vaccine first?
The decision on who will get the vaccine first is actually right now under very critical discussion within the CDC and its advisory committee on immunization practices,” said Phyllis Arthur, BIO’s VP of Infectious Disease and Diagnostics Policy. 

The Wall Street Journal (Opinion): Trump and future cancer cures
“Immunomedics is a cautionary tale about drug price controls,” says the editorial board. (ICYMI, learn more about Trump’s drug pricing executive order.)   

Sponsored by
Xcelerate Keynote Series at Biotech Week Boston - Presented by Xconomy.
BIO Beltway Report

President Trump’s Friday: Heading to Bemidji, MN, for a campaign event.

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: The House Oversight Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis just announced that HHS Secretary Alex Azar will testify on October 2.

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