Again this year I was privileged to participate in the Women’s Clinical Leadership Dinner, hosted by the Partnerships in Clinical Trials Conference. With so many women in life sciences leadership roles here in Boston, it was fitting to gather right in our own backyard. (And for those of you who missed the dinner, look for it again next spring at Partnerships in Boston.)
Through the theme of “Overcoming obstacles and converting failures into success” the speakers shared stories of the intersection between their personal and professional triumphs – and to a one, these women demonstrated incredible passion for the work we all do to improve patient health.
The inspirational and moving evening, began with a conversation between noted Washington Post journalist (insert name here and Martine Rothblatt) – whose remarkable story is reminiscent of Erin Brokovich’s dogged commitment to solving a life-threatening health mystery.
Born Martin Rothblatt, the married father of four was the founder of many businesses including Sirius Satellite Radio, now Sirius XM Radio. Shortly after undergoing gender reassignment surgery in 1994, one of her children was diagnosed with the rare and fatal lung disease pulmonary arterial hypertension -- a condition without a cure and with no real treatments. Martine dedicated herself to understanding the biology of this disease and creating a road-map to developing viable medicines equally fueled by an expansive mind and a parent’s love. She founded United Therapeutics in 1996 and took the company to its position today as a leader focused on the development and commercialization of products to address the unmet medical needs of patients with chronic and life-threatening conditions. United Therapeutics had $1.3 billion in revenue in 2014. Today, Martine’s daughter is in her 30s, United Therapeutics has helped thousands of patients with its medicines, and Martine is the highest-paid female executive in the US.
Next, Stiris Research President & CEO Shantal Feltham offered a candid and emotional talk about her breast cancer diagnosis and treatments. Stiris and BBK co-sponsored this dinner and last year Shantal was in the thick of her treatment and couldn’t attend. She spoke powerfully about how her fight to beat breast cancer has shaped her and the team at Stiris – including Amanda Carrera who stepped in to conduct a rocking interview with Jodie Morrison, CEO of Tokai Pharmaceuticals . Cancer has affected each of us, and Shantal’s story was perspective-setting for anyone in the room still sweating the small stuff. It was fantastic to have you back, Shantal.
After an above-average dinner, I was honored to join Michelle Browner of the Johnson & Johnson Innovation Center and Sue Collier from GlaxoSmithKline for the closing panel discussion on achieving professional success while pursuing and reveling in personal and family milestones. Once again I was reminded that women who are comfortable making commitments are incredibly capable of balancing the joys of life at work and at home.
I hope you’ll join us next year.