BIO lays off staff to adapt to another year of virtual events

BIO CEO Michelle McMurry-Heath, M.D., Ph.D. (BIO)

The Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) has made “some staff reductions” as it faces up to the prospect of another year without the face-to-face events that were central to its pre-pandemic operation.

A typical pre-pandemic year for BIO featured a steady stream of in-person events. This time two years ago, the trade group had 13 face-to-face events lined up for 2019 around the world, including its flagship BIO International Convention. Today, following a year ravaged by the pandemic, BIO has a smaller, largely digital schedule.

The change led BIO to make “some staff reductions … to align the organization for the new strategic direction.” Michelle McMurry-Heath, M.D., Ph.D.,  who took over as CEO of BIO last year, disclosed the staff cuts alongside details of a new-look leadership team that will take charge next month.

The leadership team is mostly made up of long-standing BIO employees, albeit in some new roles. For example, Cartier Esham, Ph.D., who spent the past five years as executive vice president for emerging companies, will work as chief scientific officer. More recent hires include Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Elliott Francis, Chief Financial Officer Stephen Jasko and McMurry-Heath herself, all of whom took up their roles last year. 
 
Working with the team, McMurry-Heath will oversee a schedule of events shaped by the restrictions imposed to control COVID-19. BIO’s current list of upcoming events features two in-person meetings, but it “expects to offer virtual-only events throughout most of 2021.”

The annual J.P. Morgan healthcare conference this month provided BIO with a chance to refine its approach to virtual interactions. BIO said it facilitated more than 10,000 meetings over the course of the week, adding to the 37,000 meetings it enabled last year.