March 8th is International Women’s day, a global day of celebration of the social, political cultural and economic achievements of women. It is also a day for promoting the goal of greater gender parity across all sections of society. At Cromos Pharma, we are using this day to celebrate just a few of the many trailblazing women in healthcare.
The technological basis for both Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna’s vaccines is mRNA. The core work behind the mRNA approach was carried out by Katalin Karikó, Hungarian- born scientist who after working in the US ended up working with BioNTech in Germany. In addition to fighting COVID-19, there is growing evidence that the mRNA vaccine platform could be used to fight other viruses, and other mRNA products may have additional uses, such as helping to treat skin disorders. The development of the Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine was led by a woman, Professor Sarah Gilbert who in 2014 also led the first trial of an Ebola vaccine. The development of the Novavax vaccine candidate, which is at an advanced stage although as yet not approved, is being led by Nita Patel with an all-female team.
In 2020, Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovering one of gene technology’s sharpest tools: the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors. This technology has revolutionized the molecular life sciences, it is contributing to innovative cancer therapies and it is hoped it may be used to help find cures for devastating inherited diseases like Huntington’s disease. Just two years earlier in 2018, Frances Arnold was awarded the prize, along with Sir Gregory Winter and George Smith for their production of new enzymes and antibodies by directed evolution.
Women are also blazing a trail in pharma and biotech industries. Recent years have witnessed the emergence of several female leaders in leading companies. Emma Walmsley became CEO of GlaxoSmithKline in April of 2017, making her the first woman to run a major pharmaceutical company. Angela Hwang is the Group President of the Pfizer Biopharmaceuticals Group, which comprises 80% of Pfizer’s revenues, and is a member of the company’s Executive Leadership Team. In 2020, Reshma Kewalramani became the first female chief executive of a major biotech company when she was made CEO at Vertex Pharmaceuticals.
Here at Cromos Pharma, we are very proud that 66% of our team is female and that 62% of our clinical operation staff are women. In addition, 65% of our female team members occupy leadership positions including our COO, Stephanie Finnegan. We recognize and celebrate the tremendous contribution of women not only to our own company but to the wider clinical research sector. We are committed to creating a working environment that promotes equality of opportunity and career development through training and education programs.
We wish all our female team members a very Happy #IWD2021 and salute all women at the forefront of healthcare and research!