CBF Honors Scientific Contributions by LGBTQ+ Community During Pride Month

Monthly Newsletter

CBF Honors Scientific Contributions by LGBTQ+ Community During Pride Month

June  2023

As Pride Month comes to a close, the California Biotechnology Foundation would like to highlight the accomplishments of innovators from the LGBTQ+ community who have made tremendous contributions in the sciences, medicine, and biotechnology. Here are ten biotech leaders you should know:

Eliav Barr is the Head of Global Clinical Development and Chief Medical Officer at Merck Research Laboratories. He has spent nearly three decades of leading work on Merck’s HPV vaccine Gardasil, HIV medicines, hepatitis C vaccines and other therapeutics. He is also a long-time leader in making sure LGBTQ+ communities are included in clinical trials as well as LGBTQ+ rights in general.

Mira Chaurushiya, PhD is managing director at Los Angeles-based Westlake Village BioPartners where they focus their time on helping the next generation build new drug development companies, whether by investing in them helping life sciences entrepreneurs get started. Dr. Chaurushiya works to ensure LGBTQ+ inclusion in biotech and broader society by recruiting more people with diverse backgrounds who have a diversity of experience and a diversity of opinions in order to bring new ideas.

John Davis, MD, MPH, MS, is Interim Chief Medical Officer at South San Francisco-based, Sonoma Biotherapeutics. He is an experienced physician-scientist drug developer and biotechnology executive with deep expertise across multiple platforms, technologies, and therapeutic areas. He has a passion for developing novel therapeutics to improve the lives of patients and a track record of success in strategic leadership, global development, and regulatory strategy across multiple therapeutic areas for nearly 30 years.

Laurent Fischer, M.D. is chief executive officer of Redwood City-based Adverum, which develops cures through gene therapy to restore vision and prevent blindness. Dr. Fischer has more than 20 years of drug development and commercialization experience in the biopharmaceutical industry. He was named one of the “Top 25 Healthcare Technology Leaders of San Francisco for 2022” by The Healthcare Technology Report.

Paul Hastings is the President and CEO of Nkarta Therapeutics and Chair of the Board of Directors of BIO.  Hastings brings longtime leadership experience to the biotech industry table. He has led multiple biotechnology companies at both the early development and commercial stages. At Nkarta, he is leading in the development of cell therapies for cancer with the power of natural killer “Nk” cells.

Edith Perez, M.D. is a renowned Mayo Clinic oncology researcher and leader of an early 2000s Herceptin trial that helped change the landscape for early-stage treatment of HER2-positive breast cancer, and, more recently, Chief Medical Officer at Bolt Biotherapeutics in Redwood City, CA. She is also heavily involved in making studies of new cancer therapeutics more representative of a diverse patient population.

Amit Rakhit, M.D. is Chief Executive Officer at Flare Therapeutics. Dr. Rakhit is a physician and healthcare executive with more than 20 years of leadership, clinical and operational experience in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry. His core motivation is and has always been to enhance teams and companies defining new treatment approaches for patients in need. He has spent his career in the life science industry promoting biotech’s diversity, equity, belonging and inclusion and ensuring HR policies are not hampering employees’ ability to bring their full selves to work.

Celia Sandhya Daniels is Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Rebekon Consulting in Ventura. With over 25 years of success in managing, growing, and spearheading large and strategic programs for healthcare and life sciences including many Fortune 500 companies. Her expertise spans a wide range of program management areas, including change management, strategic planning, stakeholder management, and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives for both IT and business programs. As a diversity and inclusion champion she educates, empowers and advocates for (TGI) transgender and gender variant and Intersex individuals in the corporate world.

Laura Shawver is president, CEO and director of Silverback Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company advancing a pipeline of therapies that target fundamental disease pathways in cancer, fibrosis and virology.  As an ovarian cancer survivor, Laura also founded the non-profit organization, The Clearity Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on bringing molecular profiling to the forefront of ovarian cancer diagnosis and treatment to help women live longer, healthier lives.

Susan Whitehead is President and Chief Operating Officer of PACT Pharma in South San Francisco, whose mission is to engineer T cell therapies by directing each person’s immune response to eradicate their individual cancer. Whitehead is involved with advocacy efforts to rally biotech leaders to voice out on certain legal or political issues such as state laws restricting LGBTQIA+ rights.

Read Endpoints News LGBTQ+ Biopharma Leaders 2023 to learn more about the amazing scientific trailblazers from the LGBTQ+ community – most are based right here in California.  You can also check out 500 Queer Scientists a movement to help forge connections among LGBTQ+ STEM workers, who often feel isolated or alienated among their colleagues. OUTBio, the biotech industry’s largest LGBTQ+ professionals group is also a great source of LGBTQ+ information. With chapters in San Diego and the Bay Area, their mission is to empower the LGBTQ+ community and its allies in biotechnology and affiliated industries.

Stay informed on the latest news and trends on the economic and health benefits of this industry by visiting CABiotech.org

If you have any questions about hosting informational briefings for your colleagues serving in the legislature, contact California Biotechnology Foundation Executive Director Patty Cooper at (916)764-2434 or [email protected].