Women In Bio Makes the Most of BIO 2017

As in past years, Women In Bio was a strong presence at the 2017 BIO International Convention in San Diego, and made the most of the week-long event. WIB’s name and mission continue to grow awareness and support in the life science industry, making our efforts worth it and encouraging us to continue our goal of promoting women in the life sciences to achieve their highest career potential.

The Convention started with our third annual Roundtable Discussion, where over 40 leaders in the life sciences sector came together to discuss women in the industry and what it takes for one to be a change agent in her company or organization – a topic of ever-increasing relevance in light of studies showing that companies with diversified boards perform better. The group discussed tactics for growing awareness of the need to get Board-qualified women in front of companies seeking to fill board seats.

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Roundtable Discussion event.

The Roundtable Discussion was followed by our annual WIB Plenary Event, the “Pitch Perfect Challenge,” on Monday, June 19, 2017. Once again the Plenary Event provided an inviting and fun environment for networking by bringing together people from all corners of the life sciences industry.

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The Manchester Grand Hyatt on June 19, 2017. 

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Plenary Event attendees enjoyed networking before and after the evening’s main program.

The evening opened with keynote speaker Carol Gallagher, Pharm.D., Partner of New Enterprise Associates, who discussed the life science investment landscape by providing an overview of fund-raising challenges and trends.

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Carol Gallagher delivers the keynote address.

The event then moved into our Pitch Challenge where six women leaders in the life sciences delivered pitches and received valuable feedback from top female investors on presentation and delivery. The panel of investors included Nina Kjellson of Canaan Partners, Margarita Chavez of AbbVie Ventures, Kristina Burow of ARCH Partners, Heather Behanna of Sofinnova Ventures, Marianne De Backer of Johnson & Johnson, and Carol Gallagher of NEA. The Pitch Challenge was moderated by Simone Fishburn, BioCentury Innovations.

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Simone Fishburn introduces the Pitch Challenge event.

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Investor panelists (left to right): Carol Gallagher, Marianne De Backer, Heather Behanna, Kristina Burow, Margarita Chavez, and Nina Kjellson listen to a pitch.

These women pitched in front of the investors:


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Bolyn Hubby delivering her pitch.

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Lillina Chiang receives feedback.

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Presenters gave their pitches in front of a packed house.

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Komathi Stem is announced as the Pitch Perfect Challenge winner. 

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Pitch Perfect Challenge presenters (left to right) Charlotte D'Hulst, Ph.D., Rosamond Deegan, Komathi Stem, Bolyn Hubby, and Lillian Chiang.

WIB had a booth on the Exhibit floor throughout the week, where over 20 WIB volunteers from our 13 chapter locations greeted and interacted with attendees.

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WIB booth at BIO 2017.

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WIB’s booth was a busy place throughout the week.

On Wednesday of BIO Week WIB hosted a Speed-Networking event where Executive Director, Jamie Griffin Strachota, orchestrated nearly 200 women and men to interact for two minutes before moving onto the next person in line. Each year this networking event grows and is a great way for people on the exhibit floor to converse with other BIO attendees and learn more about WIB.

Also on Wednesday, WIB President, Dawn Hocevar, participated in a BIO panel discussion titled, “Invest in Diversity to Drive Innovation” that explored the reasons why diversity is critical to innovation. Studies show that the number of women and underrepresented minorities in leadership roles and on boards of biotech and venture capital firms is far too low. However, conversely, the same studies demonstrate that companies with more diversity at the highest levels see a greater return on investment. To ignite innovation and increase the potential success of a company, the life sciences ecosystem must include all promising talent regardless of gender, race, or background to truly transform the demographics of industry leaders. The panelists discussed inclusive goals, existing efforts, resources, and programs available.

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WIB President Dawn Hocevar (third from left) sat on a panel that explored why diversity is critical to innovation.

On Thursday, the final day of BIO 2017, WIB hosted a panel at the BioProcess International (BPI) Theatre entitled, “My Path to the Boardroom,” where a panel of Boardroom Ready program graduates discussed their career and personal paths that led them to sitting on a corporate board. WIB President and Panel Moderator, Dawn Hocevar, led the panel of distinguished women that included Theresa Matkovits, Senior Vice President, Head of Drug Development at ContraVir Pharmaceuticals; Jennifer Carver, Chief Operating Officer at La Jolla Pharmaceutical Company; and Susan Dexter, Managing Partner at the Latham BioPharm Group. Thank you to Brian Caine and Anne Montgomery of BPI for hosting us.

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Theresa Matkovits (second from left) answers an audience question.

A big thank you to BIO for supporting Women In Bio this year, and providing us the platform to work towards our mission of promoting women in the life sciences at the BIO Convention. A special thanks to Erin Lee at BIO for all of her help. WIB is a volunteer-run organization, and our initiatives are achieved thanks to our nearly 200 volunteers who work hard towards fulfilling our mission. We continue to make so much progress because of the work and dedication of our volunteers and supporters. We are grateful for your support of our passion and drive to fulfill our mission with the ultimate goal of the advancement of women in the life sciences. We continue to move forward!

Women In Bio at BIO 2017 Sponsors 

Marie Curie Level Sponsors

Cytovance Biologics         BDO-logo
 Pfizer 21915  

Elizabeth Blackwell Level Sponsors

Ernst And Young MAXCYTE New Logo 2016
Horizonpharma Stephanie Seidman Ph D Logo Dentons Final .pptx


Rachel Carson Level Sponsors

Thermo Fisher


Additional Sponsors

Merril Lynch     Fish & Richardson