Jim Greenwood, a former Congressman who has led the Biotechnology Innovation Organization since 2005, is stepping down, to be replaced on June 1 by McMurry-Heath, MD, PhD as president and CEO. She will be only the third head of the business and trade group (originally the Biotechnology Industry Organization) since its founding in 1983.
“As these clarifying times have shown, society will rise or fall on the ingenuity of our scientists, the vibrancy of our innovative ecosystem, and the personal courage of the men and women working day and night to bring cures to patients, food to tables and relief to our environment,” McMurry-Heath said, highlighting the diverse interests of the group in not just medicine and healthcare, but also food and industrial biotechnology. “I want scientists, clinicians and innovators to hold their heads high knowing they are addressing the most important issues we face today. BIO represents these everyday heroes and sheroes, and I couldn’t be prouder for this opportunity to support their work and shout their message from the rooftop.”
McMurry-Heath has quite a string of firsts, besides being the first woman and African-American to lead BIO. She was the first African-American to graduate from the Duke Medical Scientist Training Program, and she served as the founding director of the Aspen Institute’s Health Biomedical Science and Society Policy Program. Prior to J&J, she worked at FDA, and earlier was a US Senate staffer.
Coincidentally (or not), BIO published its first “Measuring Diversity in the Biotech Industry” report in January, finding that 16% of companies surveyed had women CEOs, and 11% had non-white CEOs; and that only 17% of companies had diversity and inclusion programs in place in their HR departments. “BIO believes that diversity in all aspects of business operations will optimize the continued growth and success of the biotechnology industry” is one of the organization’s stated goals going forward.