Last night, BioNJ hosted its 30th Annual Dinner Meeting and Innovation Celebration at the Hilton East Brunswick. The event brought together industry leaders across the life sciences ecosystem and honored the medical innovation emanating from New Jersey.
“The Garden State remains a leading innovation powerhouse, with nearly 50% of all new FDA approvals in 2022 coming from companies with a footprint in New Jersey,” said BioNJ President and CEO Debbie Hart.
The evening marked a passing of the baton from current BioNJ chair, Insmed Chair & CEO Will Lewis, to Amadou Diarra, senior vice president, global policy, advocacy and government affairs, Bristol Myers Squibb.
Lewis highlighted the tireless work that BioNJ did during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, including showing the world that “drug development can be accelerated safely and effectively.”
“The greatest organizations are created in moments of adversity, and I would submit to everyone that [the pandemic] was BioNJ’s finest hour,” said Lewis. “BioNJ is our champion. It has its finger on the pulse, and uses its voice to educate.”
Speaking directly to the many pharmaceutical and life science companies in attendance, Diarra said, “We are all working towards the same goal of bringing much needed treatments to patients around the world. I really want the focus to be on those patients and one key word: humanity. From emerging startups to long-established global organizations, each and every one of you helps to bolster New Jersey’s vibrant life science community and serve the many patients counting on us around the world.”
Also honored during the evening was David Perlin, Ph.D., chief scientific officer and executive vice president of the Hackensack Meridian Center for Discovery and Innovation (CDI), who was awarded BioNJ’s 2023 Dr. Sol J. Barer Award for Vision, Innovation and Leadership.
Described as New Jersey’s own innovation superhero by Hart, Perlin and his team at CDI worked ahead of COVID-19’s arrival in February 2020 and developed a test that allowed the team to triage patients during the critical first wave of the pandemic. Perlin then oversaw successful science in testing convalescent plasma treatments, and surveillance of the new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus over the last two years.
Most recently, Perlin leads a team, including colleagues from Rockefeller University, Columbia University, Memorial Sloan Kettering, Rutgers, Merck and Aligos, to discover and create new antiviral drugs to battle SARS-CoV-2 and other coronavirus threats of the future.
“The CDI will continue to innovate and push the boundaries of actionable science for all to benefit,” Perlin said. “It is a legacy of New Jersey, from Edison, to Bell Labs, to Celgene, to Becton Dickinson, and to many other companies and industry leaders who have changed the way we live. Let’s innovate and be bold and come together to do it.”
Finally, a number of companies that received FDA approvals in 2022 were recognized with the BioNJ Innovator Award. These companies were:
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