SE Life Sciences launches new initiative designed to expand clinical trial diversity see more
National polls show that anywhere from 51 percent to 64 percent of Americans would be willing to be vaccinated against coronavirus.
But the number is far lower for minorities.
Some 49 percent of African Americans and 37 percent of Hispanics say they won’t take the vaccine, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
About 39 percent of Blacks cited safety concerns in the poll, while 35 percent cited distrust of the health care system.
That distrust goes back decades to the Tuskegee Experiment, a federal study that allowed syphilis in Black men to go untreated so scientists could observe its progression.
And it affects the way many African Americans view the health system today, with low participation clinical trials - just 5 percent to 7 percent nationally – among the consequences, according to SE Life Sciences, a trade group representing life science companies in the Southeast.
Southeast Life Sciences Launches SE Color, initiate action to encourage minorities to participate in Clinical TrialsSE Color initiates “We Are In” Campaign to encourage minority participation in Clinical Trials see more
On September 9, Southeast Life Sciences announced the formation of SE Color, an organization dedicated to support minority life science entrepreneurship, increase investment in minority-owned life science businesses, and improve minority access to information and clinical opportunities.
The founding advisory board members are Jayne Morgan MD, Clinical Director, Covid Task Force at Piedmont Healthcare, Kornelius Bankston, Managing Partner with techPLUG, and John Newby, Chief Executive Officer for Virginia BIO. As executive director of Southeast Life Sciences, Jason Rupp will staff the organization.
SE Color’s initial effort will focus on increasing the number of minorities in clinical trials. In an article published in Healthcare Tech Outlook, Dr. Morgan notes that, “African Americans make up 13.4 percent of the US population, yet only 5 – 7 percent of clinical trial participants nationally.”
Dr. Morgan further states, “Nearly every advance in medicine today was first evaluated in a clinical trial. Clinical trials offer our best and most forward thinking and can be the gateway to provide earlier access to life saving medicines and therapies years ahead of FDA approval. Equitable participation in clinical trials is therefore a critical call to action in ensuring that medicines, devices, and vaccines that are developed are relevant to all populations.”
Although there are many aspects to facilitate minority recruitment in clinical trials, SE Color will initially focus on education through the “We Are In” campaign. The initial priority will be to share information on clinical trials available throughout the southeast. SE Color will partner with state associations in the region to ensure we have updated information and extend the network.
Southeast Life Sciences recognizes the great need for effort in these areas and though we will only be one part of the solution, we will be part of it. In closing, Bankston adds “I believe the greatest social injustice in modern history is health inequalities which disproportionately impact people of color. We can create more effective therapeutics, applications and medicines for all populations- by addressing the systemic issues in clinical research.”
Bristol Myers Squibb, BMS Foundation Commit $300 Million to Accelerate and Expand Health Equity and Diversity and Inclusion EffortsFive–year commitment by BMS builds on long-standing investment in health equity see more
-Bristol Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY) and the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation announced today a combined investment of $300 million as part of a series of commitments. For Bristol Myers Squibb and the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation, the commitments are designed to address health disparities, increase clinical trial diversity and for Bristol Myers Squibb, to increase the company’s spend with diverse suppliers and continue to increase Black/African American and Hispanic/Latino representation at all levels of the company. These commitments build on each entity’s experience addressing health disparities and, for Bristol Myers Squibb, its investments in increasing the diversity of its workforce.
The combined $300 million investment to health equity focuses on raising disease awareness and education, increasing health care access, and improving health outcomes for medically underserved populations. The BMS Foundation’s commitment to clinical trial diversity focuses on building clinical trial infrastructure in diverse communities and high disease burden areas in the U.S. and increasing the diversity of investigators through a fellowship program over five years.
“Our company has a long history of addressing health disparities as part of our overall mission to serve patients with serious disease,” said Giovanni Caforio, M.D., chairman and chief executive officer, Bristol Myers Squibb. “Now more than ever, we recognize the urgent need to do more to address serious gaps in care among the underserved in communities around the world. This commitment reflects our belief that investments toward achieving health equity, and increasing diversity and inclusion are opportunities to advance our vision of transforming patients’ lives through science.”
This investment follows Bristol Myers Squibb’s previous announcement to expand its existing patient support program to help eligible unemployed patients in the U.S. who have lost their health insurance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In recent months, though, COVID-19 has exposed the severity of social and health disparities in the U.S. that increase the risk for infection and poorer health outcomes for Black/African American and Hispanic/Latino communities.
Bristol Myers Squibb and the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation recognize the need to take concrete steps to better serve and collaborate with an increasingly diverse U.S. population and underserved communities around the world.
The commitments include:
- Increasing clinical trial diversity: Bristol Myers Squibb will extend the reach of clinical trials into underserved patient communities in urban and rural U.S. geographies. The Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation will train and develop 250 new racially and ethnically diverse clinical investigators who will have mentorship and training opportunities, and ultimately to enroll underserved patients into clinical trials.
“Clinical trial diversity needs acceleration. We see tremendous opportunity for longer-term, sustainable impact by supporting ethnically diverse physician scientists to engage in clinical research while also establishing clinical research sites in diverse communities,” said Samit Hirawat, M.D., chief medical officer, Bristol Myers Squibb. “Over the next five years, we will extend the reach of our trials into underserved patient communities and the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation will train and develop 250 new racially and ethnically diverse clinical investigators that can enroll a diverse patient population in trials conducted across the industry.”
- Strengthening health equity work across the business: Bristol Myers Squibb will accelerate its efforts to reach at-risk patients with disease awareness and education programs and information about its patient support programs, including programs for people who cannot afford their medicines. Bristol Myers Squibb will also continue to advocate for policies that promote health equity.
- Increasing the company’s spend with diverse suppliers: Bristol Myers Squibb will spend $1 billion globally by 2025 with Black/African American and other diverse-owned businesses to help create jobs and generate positive economic impact in diverse communities.
- Increasing the diversity of the company’s workforce: Bristol Myers Squibb will expand the diversity of its workforce and leadership to ensure it reflects the evolving demographics of the patients the company serves. The company achieved gender parity across its workforce in 2015. By 2022, Bristol Myers Squibb aims to achieve gender parity at the executive level globally; double executive representation of Black/African American employees in the U.S.; and double executive representation of Hispanic/Latino employees in the U.S.
“As a patient focused company, it is vital that our workforce reflect the people, cultures and communities we serve,” added Ann Powell, chief human resources officer, Bristol Myers Squibb. “We recognize that meeting the needs of patients means we must continue to grow a powerfully diverse, and broadly inclusive, workforce.”
- Expanding our employee giving program: Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation will provide a 2-to-1 match for U.S. employee donations to organizations that fight health disparities and discrimination.
The commitments by the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation build on the more than 100 active grantee projects funded by the Foundation globally to improve access to care and support, and health outcomes that have reached nearly 1.5 million people worldwide. For more information on these commitments and the work Bristol Myers Squibb is doing to transform patients’ lives through science, visit BMS.com.
About Bristol Myers Squibb
Bristol Myers Squibb is a global biopharmaceutical company whose mission is to discover, develop and deliver innovative medicines that help patients prevail over serious diseases. For more information about Bristol Myers Squibb, visit us at BMS.com or follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.
About the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation
The Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation promotes health equity and seeks to improve the health outcomes of populations disproportionately affected by serious diseases by strengthening healthcare worker capacity, integrating medical care and community-based supportive services, and mobilizing communities in the fight against disease. The Foundation engages partners to develop, test, sustain and spread innovative clinic-community partnerships to help patients access care and support for cancer in the U.S., China, Africa, and Brazil and for cardiovascular diseases, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis in the United States. For more information about the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation, visit us at BMS.com/Foundation.
SCBIO salutes investor-partner Upstate Alliance on 20 great years see more
Mark Farris was working for an economic-development organization near Charlotte when he saw an ad aimed at luring companies to the Upstate. He was blown away — precisely what the Upstate SC Alliance intended with its “I Was Blown Away” marketing campaign in the late 2000s.
“At the time, with the regional efforts that were underway then, that seemed the most effective way to market, and I felt they really hit the target,” Farris, now president and CEO of the Greenville Area Development Corp., says of those slick commercials.
“They” are the members of Upstate SC Alliance, the 10-county public-private partnership that marks its 20th anniversary this year. These days, John Lummus, its third president and CEO, oversees a $3 million annual budget with counties paying 50 cents per resident — and seeing a handy return on those dues.
In April, for instance, Spartanburg County announced Keurig Dr Pepper’s $350 million investment in a coffee roasting and packaging operation in Moore, expected to create 500 new jobs.
“From the perspective of what we do, what we’re supposed to be doing for the Upstate, that would be a great example,” Lummus says, adding: “We don’t take credit for projects. We’re just on the front end of the funnel.”
In 2014, Lummus took over from Hal Johnson, who became alliance president in 2005 and is now chief development officer at the NAI Earle Furman real estate company. Before Johnson, Sam Konduros served as the group’s first chief executive.
Around 2000, Konduros says, corporate execs and government policymakers embraced the idea of a marketing organization with a broader economic-development scope.
“With a rapidly evolving global economy, we needed at least to harness the energy of the entire Upstate and not have our counties just kind of going it alone or even necessarily competing with each other,” he says.
Konduros is now president and CEO of the SCBIO life-sciences industry association, headquartered on Woodruff Road in Greenville. He started the nonprofit Upstate SC Alliance with a staff of two. Lummus today oversees an 11-member crew in a plush office suite just off Verdae Boulevard.
When Lummus became chief executive, 375 international companies called the Upstate home. Today, that figure stands at 510, according to the organization whose tagline is “Business Moves Here.”
A high-water mark came in 2008, when the organization’s then-treasurer and now state Commerce Department Secretary Bobby Hitt told members the “Blown Away” campaign worked. That same year saw $2 billion in investments, including BMW’s $750 million expansion.
Looking forward, Lummus sees a two-fold approach to marketing the region: going after smaller so-called “middle-market projects” because companies with annual revenues between $10 million and $100 million are presenting better and more recruitment opportunities; and attracting talent.
The group’s new ‘Move Up’ initiative, for instance, showcases such local amenities as bicycle trails, food trucks and sunshine — aimed at workers to fill 200,000 unique jobs that 10,000 employers posted in the Upstate last year.
Erin Ford served as the alliance’s business recruitment officer from 2012 to 2015. Today, she works with Konduros as SCBIO’s vice president. She calls Lummus and his staff the “storytellers of the Upstate.”
Without them, she says, “company executives would have no idea the wonderful things that are here in the Upstate region.”
SEMDA, SEBIO Merge into Southeast Life Sciences see more
Representatives from the Southeastern Medical Device Association (SEMDA) and Southeast BIO (SEBIO) have announced that the two organizations have officially merged to form Southeast Life Sciences. The merger provides a single platform for medtech and bioscience innovation, partnering and investor relations in the region.
“The convergence of medical technologies, including devices, with bioscience technologies including drugs, data, digital and combination products necessitates the convergence of these entities,” former SEMDA Executive Director and now Southeast Life Science Executive Director Jason Rupp says. “In order to respond to the combined needs of stakeholders in both ecosystems, the time has arrived for SEBIO and SEMDA to come together under one roof.”
Combining individuals, corporations, universities and other entities in one regional industry organization mitigates “death by one thousand conferences,” ensuring more efficient use of time and resources, Rupp says.
New technologies like nanoparticles and microneedles for drug delivery coming out of the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, a joint program of Emory University and Georgia Tech, are tangible examples of the potential for innovation when multiple scientific disciplines connect.
“With the advent of devices like Cardiomems that blend device with data and devices that deliver pharmaceutical therapies, close connectivity between medical device and bioscience innovators is advantageous to regional stakeholders, especially investors,” Rupp says.
“Because clients span the entirety of medtech innovation including devices, pharmaceutical therapies and combination devices, many companies like ours needed to support both organizations,” says former SEMDA Chair Tiffany Wilson, CEO of the Global Center for Medical Innovation (GCMI). “Financially, this meant telling them, ‘We have this amount of funding support for you. You have to figure out how to divvy it up.’ While both SEBIO and SEMDA flagship conferences had value, bringing them under the same roof brings connectivity, educational and financial efficiency gains for all concerned that should lift medtech and life science innovation and investment across the board.”
The inaugural ADVANSE Life Science Conference, Southeast Life Science’s flagship event will be May 28-29, 2020 in Charleston, SC. Organizers expect to convene more than 500 attendees, including a significant number of investors, highlighting innovations from 50 early stage medtech and bioscience companies over the two-day conference.
David Day, Executive Director of Southeast BIO, added, “Southeast BIO and SEMDA have been operating as sister organizations for medtech and life science stakeholders in the southeast. The resulting merger will provide a critical mass of innovation that will be more than the sum of its parts.”