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Biotechnology Innovation Organization Chief to step down after US 2020 elections

Published on 11/10/19 at 11:26am
Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_C._Greenwood#/media/File:Jim_Greenwood.jpg

The Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), the largest trade body representing the world’s biotechnology industry, has revealed that its President and CEO Jim Greenwood is to step down from the role following the 2020 US presidential election.

Greenwood has served in the position since 2004, succeeding founding President Carl Feldbaum who retired that year. His tenure saw the BIO triple in size to 176 employees, while its operating budget grew to $85 million. The organisation also hosts the world’s largest annual biotech convention, drawing 18,000 visitors from 70 countries around the world.

Prior to holding this position, Greenwood has also served as a Member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for the 143rd district from 1981 to 1986, and later for the Pennsylvania Senate for the 10th district from 1987 to 1992. From that year, he represented the state’s 8th district in the US House of Representatives, a seat he held until taking the helm at BIO in 2005. He also acted as a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in Congress, where he helped to lift the ban on embryonic stem-cell research and introduce the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit for senior citizens.

Under the Obama administration, he also led the passage of the 21st Century Cures Act on Capitol Hill, expanding the FDA’s utility of biomarkers, innovative clinical trials and real-world evidence in its regulatory decision-making.

“Jim’s pragmatic, ethical, patient-first leadership of BIO for more than 14 years has allowed the United States to create a pro-innovation public policy environment that’s the envy of the world, and I say that as someone who has led biopharmaceutical companies in three countries,” remarked BIO Chairman Jeremy Levin, CEO of Ovid Therapeutics. “All of us at BIO will continue to depend on his thoughtful stewardship for the next 15 months as we fight short-sighted attempts to drain capital from our sector and curtail the intellectual property rights of innovators.

“We are grateful that Jim has agreed to stay on in a transitional role in 2021 to help his successor educate the public and lawmakers about the enormously complex and expensive challenge of bringing new medicines to market – the last and only hope for millions of suffering patients across the world.”

Greenwood himself commented: “I’ve been twice blessed – to represent the American people in Congress and then to represent the extraordinary scientists and entrepreneurs of the biotechnology industry. No organisation has played a more powerful role than BIO in making sure government leaders embrace thoughtful policy so the science of biotechnology can march forward. I know because I was one of those lawmakers inspired by my BIO education. Through this organisation, I came to see the miracles the biotech industry makes possible.”

“Our industry has won many important policy battles over the last 14 years, and we’ve now ushered in the dawn of a new era of cures, Today, the human genome has been mapped and hundreds of new breakthroughs are in the pipeline as a result. The first gene therapies are starting to be approved by the FDA. CRISPR and gene editing hold transformative potential to not just treat, but actually cure, deadly diseases. Advanced biofuels, environmentally sustainable biotechnology processes and genetically enhanced crops are helping reduce pollution and transform our food system to feed a rapidly growing global population. Biotechnology is how we will meet the human race’s greatest challenges of this century and beyond.

“This is a critical moment for our industry as our companies take a beating in the court of public opinion,” he continued. “I will continue my full-throated advocacy to ensure our elected officials do not kill innovation in a populist furore and prevent our scientists from delivering a new generation of genomic cures. The way forward for drug makers is to reaffirm and live by our social contract with patients, making sure we are their most zealous defenders in every policy and pricing discussion. BIO will continue to make the case that innovators and lawmakers each have a moral responsibility to ensure patients never go without the medicine they need while expanding access to therapies in ways that don’t kill innovation for patients still waiting for cures to come.”

Matt Fellows

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