At UCB, our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is foundational to our sustainability approach. We welcome not just the best and brightest, but those who care about making a meaningful difference in the lives of patients. We believe in working together as ONE UCB to deliver impactful solutions.
Here in Massachusetts, our CEO, J-C Tellier, was pleased to sign MassBio’s DEI pledge last year. As an active member of MassBio and the life sciences ecosystem, we recognize we have an important role to play in addressing inequity through initiatives that are broad in scope and specific in action. Ahead of the MassBio DEI conference, we are pleased to provide updates on a few of these programs and commitments we are making in Massachusetts:
High School Internship Program & STEM Focus
As part of UCB’s commitment to DEI and STEM education, our community engagement platform is inspiring science. Last year, we launched a high school internship program in Massachusetts to do just this – inspire science and the future generation of life scientists. Over the past nine months, a student at Notre Dame Cristo Rey High School in Methuen has worked with our data research teams at our Bedford facilities. The student is learning computational methods for data analysis, which are helping to curate short-lived protein lists that play an essential role in disease pathogenesis. In simple terms, these data help our team learn protein dynamics – and can ultimately lead to the identification of novel therapies for chronic and severe diseases.
“There’s always something new and interesting to do. From coding in python to creating visual representations of data to writing code for a website, it’s an amazing experience,” said UCB’s intern on enjoying his internship. “I am so glad to have been chosen to work here and hope to continue to learn new things every day. I know it’s meaningful work, too, as we look to find data that may help treat struggling patients.”
Additionally, UCB has been an ardent champion of BioBuilder, a Massachusetts-based organization taking a comprehensive approach to the emerging field of synthetic biology. BioBuilder provides programs for young students and their teachers to integrate biology and engineering through practical, hands-on lessons and club activities. UCB is specifically supporting BioBuilder’s Apprenticeship Challenge, a pre-professional experience for high school students in Massachusetts to prepare for summer internships in life science companies. Our Head of Research Analytics recently joined one of these programs and lauded it as a great opportunity to hear from students about their projects and poster presentations and to provide scientific feedback and suggestions.
Employee Resource Groups (ERG)
At UCB, our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are an important tool for nurturing an inclusive culture. Based on a common identity or characteristic, these groups foster inclusion and advocate for individual communities through education, mentorship opportunities, and career development. They are open to all employees, whether they are members of the community in which the ERG focuses, have a connection to that community, or simply want to serve as an ally of the group.
Our ERGs are also having an impact in the community. Recently, a group of our Raíz ERG (supporting Hispanic and Latinx employees) members volunteered their time and expertise to help translate education materials into Spanish for TSC Alliance, a patient organization focused on tuberous sclerosis complex, a rare disease causing tumors in the brain and other organs that can lead to epilepsy, a neurological disorder that counts Hispanics among its largest subpopulations. More than 700,000 Hispanics have epilepsy, yet there are persistent discrepancies in their access to care, treatment, and outcomes. (UCB is working to address these inequities. Read more.)
MassBio’s DEI team recently joined UCB ERG leaders for a discussion. They shared learnings, and UCB and MassBio identified areas of mutual interest and collaboration, including uplifting ERGs to foster inclusion and enhancing our outside-in and community education perspective. MassBio additionally imparted practical examples for fostering trustful relationships and impact through community collaboration. Ross Marshall, MassBio Senior Director for DEI Advisory, lauded the partnership, adding, “MassBio is pleased to be collaborating with UCB on DEI programs and we applaud their focus and commitment to this important work.”
As we continue to grow in Massachusetts, we will remain vigilant to the pledge our CEO made to MassBio and the community last year. While the initiatives above provide a solid base, we recognize we need to continue to build and invest in programs that help narrow the gap in inequities in Massachusetts. We look forward to the MassBio DEI conference – and hope to learn and explore with others additional ways we can continue to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in our industry now and in the future.