As a cornerstone of the foundation strategic plan and mission, the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) strives to lead collaborative, transformational research in psoriatic disease and increase the lifespan and health of individuals living with psoriatic disease. On September 10, 2021, NPF will be hosting the 2021 NPF Research Symposium: The Future of Psoriatic Disease - Improving Health Outcomes, to strengthen and support medical and research endeavors towards prevention, precision medicine, comorbidities, equity for underrepresented populations, and a cure, by providing a venue for education, dissemination of scientific results, and collaboration that is specific to psoriatic disease.
This NPF Research Symposium, which is held every 2 years, provides a unique opportunity for experts across disciplines to come together to discuss and advance research and medical standard of care in the field for psoriatic disease. The Keynote Address will be given by Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath, president and CEO of Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO).
When asked why a patient advocacy organization focused on psoriatic disease would invite Dr. McMurry-Heath to be the keynote speaker at the upcoming research symposium, the answer was easy for NPF Chief Scientific and Medical Officer Stacie Bell, Ph.D. “Our organizations have a shared vision of evidence-based medicine, access to care, and supporting policies for improved health outcomes for our communities,” says Dr. Bell. “BIO has a storied history of advocacy and has played a huge role in shaping scientific advances from multiple perspectives.”
That statement that is supported by evidence of the work they do and the leadership of Dr. McMurry-Heath. “NPF and BIO are both organizations trying to push the envelope to improve lives,” says Dr. Bell. “I am thrilled to have Dr. McMurry-Heath join the symposium to inspire our researchers to continue to elevate our efforts for our community.”
What is BIO?
BIO is the largest advocacy organization in the world representing member companies, state biotechnology groups, academic and research institutions, and related organizations. BIO is organized into 4 different sections, which include: emerging biotech companies, health biotechnology, agriculture and environment, and food and agriculture biotechnology. Most recently, BIO launched a COVID vaccines facts website, is actively supporting the Sustainable Skies Act, and launched the BIOEquality Agenda, which is a national effort to counteract systemic inequality, injustice, and unfair treatment of underserved communities.
BIO is best described by these two sentences from their website: “BIO is committed to speaking up for the millions of families around the globe who depend upon our success. [BIO] will drive a revolution that aims to cure patients, protect our climate, and nourishes humanity.”
Who is Dr. McMurry-Heath?
Dr. McMurry-Heath has a diverse background ranging from being the top legislative aide to Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, to working at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as well as time at Johnson & Johnson in various leadership roles. This eclectic background makes her the perfect person to lead BIO in making science accessible for everyone, regardless of background. It also needs to be noted that she is the first Black person to graduate from the Duke University School of Medicine Medical Scientist Training Program with her M.D., Ph.D. and the first woman to be president and CEO at BIO.
“The common thread in McMurry-Heath’s work across academia, government, and industry has been her focus on broadening access to scientific progress so more patients from diverse backgrounds can benefit from cutting-edge innovation,” says the BIO profile of Dr. McMurry-Heath. “Driven by her own past family experiences navigating clinical trials and funding uncertainties within the rare disease community, Dr. McMurry-Heath calls ‘the distribution of scientific progress the social justice issue of our age.’”
NPF is excited to have her jumpstart the symposium, which includes sessions on basic science, comorbidities and overall wellness, DEI in research, NPF research programs, and clinical research. The day concludes with select oral poster presentations and a poster/networking session. The 2021 Research Symposium will set the stage for the next phase of psoriatic disease research. The information and education shared will be invaluable in addressing the challenges and approaches to research and care.