New focus on justice through equity in diverse clinical trials, STEM education and expanding entrepreneurship to undeserved communities will drive nation’s largest life science advocacy organization
The Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) today announced BIOEquality Agenda which aims to attack the systemic inequality, injustice and unfair treatment of women and communities of color through the positive force of biotechnology. Recognizing that gains from transformative science are not always shared equally, BIO is challenging the industry, and its partners, to find solutions for inequitable healthcare delivery, disparate economic development and nutritional and environmental disparities in the US and around the globe.
BIOEquality Agenda revolves around three pillars of change that will support stronger and healthier communities:
- Promote Health Equity
- Enhance clinical trial diversity by partnering with Contract Research Organizations and Minority Serving Institutions
- Promote access to vaccines and therapeutics for uninsured and underserved populations, especially related to COVID
- Foster enhanced nutritional, environmental, and mental wellness opportunities in economically disadvantaged communities
- Invest in the Current and Next Generation of Scientists
- Inventory and promote visibility of industry-sponsored minority training programs
- Establish STEM training best practices for underrepresented populations
- Create a network of minority scientists and engineers
- Facilitate a partnering network, including hiring of industry-trained minority scientists and engineers
- Expand Opportunity for Women and Other Underrepresented Populations
- Enhance use of minority- and women owned small businesses in biotech supply chains, to promote economic development of marginalized communities and especially those, hard hit by COVID-19
- Promote diversity of the NIH SBIR Grants
Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath who assumed the role of President and CEO of BIO June 1, 2020 explained:
“I took the helm of this organization during a turbulent time. A pandemic was racing unchecked around the globe and the murder of George Floyd was bringing world-wide attention to the injustices suffered by minority communities. I knew our organization could not stay on the sidelines while a groundswell of uncertainty grew about a novel virus and the call for an end to injustice towards underserved communities was growing every day. Our industry had to seize this moment to help make a difference.
“The COVID pandemic has reminded us once again, in stark detail, that the impact of disease on communities of color is unequal. For reasons that are still not entirely understood, Black Americans have suffered a much higher rate of infection and die from COVID at three times the rate of their white counterparts. COVID is the latest in a long line of diseases that show stark disparities in health outcomes. As leaders in the life science industry, we must meet these challenges and injustices head on.
”Promote. Invest. Expand. Over the next several years we will aggressively pursue the BIOEquality Agenda by any means necessary. And that means through education, collaboration, and advocacy. This agenda will challenge our companies, the government, and yes, even ourselves, to make ‘diversity’ more than just a word or a program but a part of who we are and what we stand for.”
Last year, BIO’s Right Mix Matters campaign was launched to provide tools to accelerate gender, racial, ethnic and LGBTQ representation on biotech company boards, in C-Suites and in functional leadership positions. More information can be found here.
BIO remains committed to amplifying the industry’s efforts to develop solutions for patients. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, BIO created a web page dedicated to resources for the biopharmaceutical industry. The Business Resource Center features the most up-to-date information on how to maintain business continuity during the pandemic. Another interactive resource includes the BIO COVID-19 Therapeutic Development Tracker which tracks and updates drug development efforts in the fight against COVID-19.