BioNJ’s 25th Anniversary Annual Dinner Meeting & Innovation Celebration
Citing rapid advances in the life sciences sphere, ranging from those in systems biology and predictive medicine, to stem cell technology and genetic engineering, Dr. Andrew Pecora of Hackensack Meridian Health last night asked an audience of approximately 700 persons at BioNJ’s 25th Anniversary Annual Dinner Meeting & Innovation Celebration: “How do we take New Jersey to the next level? How to we make these great advances affordable, available and equitable, for all of our citizens? How does New Jersey lead? The answer is [for] the leaders in this room to work together, as we have all started to do. It will come from the healthcare leaders; it will come from our life science leaders; it will come from our insurance leaders.”
Dr. Pecora, a globally recognized expert is areas ranging from cellular medicine and immunology research, to blood and marrow stem cell transplantation – and who is also a biotechnology entrepreneur – was bestowed last night with BioNJ’s Dr. Sol J. Barer Award for Vision, Innovation and Leadership.
New Jersey indeed remains a life sciences node, with approximately 350,000 direct and indirect jobs, more than 3,200 life sciences establishments – and more than 1,000 drugs in development, according to BioNJ President and CEO Debbie Hart.
Hart, who was publicly honored last night for 25 years at BioNJ (she helped form the organization), stated, “Tonight is all about time – measuring it, celebrating it, holding onto it and creating more of it. As our chairman James [Sapirstein] says, ‘We are the only industry that does that. We are the only industry that gives time back.’” Hart later recounted medical advances that allowed her own mother to live a longer life, before passing away.
BioNJ’s gala additionally honored an array of 26 life sciences companies with “Innovator Awards” for 32 different drugs that they recently developed. The honored companies included, but were not limited to, household names such as Novartis and Bayer, to Novo Nordisk and Pfizer, for example.
Robin Roberts, co-anchor of ABC News’ Good Morning America gave the keynote speech, although her comments were not open to the media. Her printed biography, however, states, in part, that “Ms. Roberts was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2007. Five years later she was diagnosed with MDS or myelodyplastic syndrome, a disease of the blood and bone marrow once known as pre-leukemia.”