The Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) is proud to celebrate Pride Month, which, in many places, is returning to in-person celebrations for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the last Pride Month, there have been many important biotech developments that benefit the LGBTQI+ community.
‘It is okay to be you’
Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Rachel Levine – the nation’s first openly transgender four-star admiral – released a statement marking the importance of Pride Month.
“Pride is our time to celebrate how far we have come, look to where we are going, and reflect on the countless people who have helped us get to this point, both those known and those unknown who worked to advance the health and rights of LGBTQI+ communities,” she said.
“For every LGBTQI+ person living in this country, it is okay to be you, and it is the right thing to do to stand up for your dignity and your freedoms,” Admiral Levine added.
How biotech is empowering the LGBTQI+ community
BIO Chair Paul Hastings and Nkarta Therapeutics – which Hastings leads as President and CEO – were recently honored by San Francisco Business Times for leadership on LGBTQI+ issues and employment policies. Throughout his career, Hastings has been a longtime leader in the biotechnology sector in advancing social justice for members of the LGBTQI+ community in the industry and beyond.
“My door is always open for anybody. But even when you do that, people aren’t always going to run to your door. So the philosophical approach we take is, ‘Just keep the doors open.’” Hear from Nkarta CEO @phastings14 in a recent @SFBusinessTimes article: https://t.co/0yNTARp9WK
— nkarta therapeutics (@nkartatx) June 21, 2022
Johnson & Johnson recently launched its “Depression Looks Like Me” awareness campaign with an emphasis on spotlighting LGBTQI+ voices.
Members of the LGBTQI+ community are three times more likely to have mental health conditions than the general population, according to Johnson & Johnson. The campaign aims to to normalize discussions about mental health and to empower members of the LGBTQI+ community to seek mental health care if they feel they need it.
An HIV vaccine could be here soon
This month, Emory University announced that it is participating in a clinical trial to test an mRNA HIV vaccine manufactured by BIO member company Moderna.
Emory’s announcement follows last month’s news that Moderna will have a phase 1 vaccine trial for an HIV vaccine candidate, mRNA1644, in Africa – the first time such a clinical trial has taken place on the continent. This trial will take place in Rwanda and South Africa.
LGBTQI+ inclusion in biotech
According to BIO’s third-annual report on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the biotechnology industry, the number of companies collecting data on LGBTQI+ identity more than doubled from 2020 to 2021 (10% to 21%). However, while the biotech industry has long been home to many members of the LGBTQI+ community, more must be done to welcome and include members of this community as leaders and innovators in the sector.
While the U.S. continues to make importance progress in recognizing the dignity and freedoms of members of the LGBTQ+ community, more must be done. BIO is proud to do its own small part in honoring and recognizing the contributions and sacrifices of LGBTQI+ Americans, especially those advancing biotech innovation.