Encouraging Biotechnology Workforce Diversity

Leading biotechnology companies are partnering with the International Center for Professional Development (ICPD) to support a training and mentoring program at the 2012 BIO International Convention that encourages workforce diversity in the biotechnology industry.

The Scientist Mentoring and Diversity Program (SMDP) encourages graduate and post-doctoral science students from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups to consider careers in biotechnology. Thirty students will be awarded scholarships for the year-long program. A vital component of the program is student attendance at the BIO International Convention, which will be held in Boston, June 18-21, 2012.

“Minorities are underrepresented in the biotechnology industry as in many other science, technology, engineering and math professions, and the biotechnology industry is doing something about it,” says Scott May, executive director at the International Center for Professional Development. “This effort is important for many reasons, but in particular, a diverse workforce is more productive as it brings a larger pool of ideas, skills, and experiences that collectively increase the knowledge base required for scientific innovation.”

Minority populations in the United States experience higher rates of mortality due to diseases such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and HIV/AIDS. These disparities may be partially attributed to a low number of minorities in the biomedical workforce. Increasing the diversity of perspectives in science research will lead to better opportunities for scientific advancements and eventually reduced health disparities among ethnic and racial groups.

In addition to three days of career training, the Scientist Mentoring & Diversity Program will provide participants with personalized mentoring and direct access to industry contacts. Participants receive scholarships to attend the SMDP training and the 2012 BIO International Convention. They also receive one year of mentoring and access to an exclusive online mentoring portal that provides ongoing support and connectivity.

The Lead sponsors of the 2011-2012 Scientist Mentoring and Diversity Program are BIO and Amgen. Additional SMDP sponsors include Johnson & Johnson, Baxter, Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Deloitte, and Howard University. Sponsors of the program receive extensive ongoing professional development for their mentor employees and easy access and recruitment of pre-qualified and top-quality ethnically-diverse researchers.

“This initiative has enjoyed the support of the industry for more than a decade,” says May. “We are currently seeking the support of other companies who want to join us in this important effort.”

ICPD also supports the annual Diversity Summit held at the BIO Convention. The summit brings science and healthcare thought leaders together to address health issues affecting underserved populations.

This year ICPD will launch a Scientist and Mentoring and Diversity Program training session focused on careers in the medical device industry. It will be held in conjunction with AdvaMed: The Med-Tech Conference in Boston, MA.

For more information, visit the International Center for Professional Programs at www.icpdprograms.org.