by Jasmine Phiri
March 30, 2021
President and CEO
Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO)
Michelle McMurry-Heath assumed the leadership of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) as President and CEO on June 1, 2020. A medical doctor and molecular immunologist by training, Dr. McMurry-Heath becomes just the third chief executive to steward the world’s largest biotechnology advocacy group since BIO’s founding in 1993.
BIO represents 1,000 life sciences companies and organizations from 30 countries. The organization’s mission is to support companies that discover and deploy scientific breakthroughs that improve human health, environmental stewardship, and sustainable agriculture.
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. Driven by her own past family experiences navigating clinical trials and funding uncertainties within the rare disease community, McMurry-Heath calls “the distribution of scientific progress the social justice issue of our age.”
She comes to BIO from Johnson & Johnson where she served as Global Head of Evidence Generation for Medical Device Companies and then Vice President of Global External Innovation and Global Leader for Regulatory Sciences. She was also instrumental in bringing J&J’s incubator, JLabs, to Washington, DC. She led a global team of 900 with responsibilities in 150 countries around the globe.
Prior to her time at J&J, Dr. McMurry-Heath was also a key science policy leader in government. The Obama-Biden transition team tapped her to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the National Science Foundation’s policies, programs and personnel. President Obama then named her associate science director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health under Commissioner Peggy Hamburg. In that role, she championed clinical trial evolution, the use of real-world evidence in product evaluation, and an embrace of the patient’s voice in health research so new medical products deliver outcomes that matter to them.
McMurry-Heath was the founding director of the Aspen Institute’s Health, Biomedical Science, and Society Policy Program, where she promoted personalized medicine and bolstered international preparation for pandemic disease threats. She received her early training in science policy from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and later served as Senator Joe Lieberman’s top legislative aide for science and health. In that role, she drafted legislation to protect the country from biological attacks.
McMurry-Heath received her MD/PhD from Duke’s Medical Scientist Training Program, becoming the first African-American to graduate from the prestigious program. She spent 12 years working at the research bench before taking policy and leadership roles in government and industry.
McMurry-Heath lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband Sebastian Heath, a veterinarian, and their daughter, Isabella. To relax, she enjoys yoga, snorkeling and her daughter’s sporting events.