MassBio® Announces Headliners for 2021 State of Possible Conference

Apr 12, 2021

Tal Zaks of Moderna and Dr. Charlotte Jones-Burton of Women of Color in Pharma to deliver keynote addresses

April 12, 2021 (CAMBRIDGE, MA) – Today, the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council (MassBio®) announced the two keynote speakers for its annual meeting, the State of Possible Conference, taking place virtually on May 19, 2021: Tal Zaks, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Medical Officer, Moderna, and Dr. Charlotte Jones-Burton, Founder and President, Women of Color in Pharma. Drawing more than 800 industry leaders from Massachusetts and beyond, MassBio’s State of Possible Conference celebrates how the life sciences industry makes the impossible possible for patients around the world.

“In the past year, the life sciences industry did what it does best – solving massive problems that impact patients,” said Kendalle Burlin O’Connell, President & COO, MassBio. “As we look to the future, we must build on these efforts and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to contribute to new research, tools, and technologies that tackle unmet medical needs. It is an honor and a privilege to welcome two individuals who so perfectly encapsulate what makes Massachusetts the State of Possible.”

As Chief Medical Officer at Cambridge-based Moderna, Tal Zaks joined Moderna when it was a preclinical startup and has been instrumental to the company’s growth and success. Zaks led Moderna’s clinical development of some of the first vaccines in history to use mRNA technology – technology that is not only helping the world combat the COVID-19 pandemic, but that also offers great potential to solve other unmet medical needs. In his keynote address, Zaks will provide an in-depth look at Moderna’s rise – from a small startup to a household name helping to lead the global fight against COVID-19.

“2020 was a transformative year for the life sciences. By harnessing the power of new innovations, we’ve been able to help combat one of the most significant health crises of our age,” said Zaks. “I’m proud to join the 2021 State of Possible Conference to share Moderna’s story as an example of how our ecosystem can foster the effective translation of scientific discoveries and innovations into impactful medicines for the benefit of society.”  

Dr. Charlotte Jones-Burton, Founder and President of Women of Color in Pharma (WOCIP) and Vice President of Global Clinical Development, Nephrology at Otsuka Pharmaceutical Companies, has dedicated her life to creating healthier communities and advancing health equity. With more than 20 years of experience as a clinical development leader, physician, and entrepreneur, Dr. Jones-Burton has led WOCIP with a dual focus on transforming the biopharmaceutical and life sciences landscape with women of color to create accelerated, sustainable change in pursuit of racial and gender equality at all levels, and on the advancement of equity in the drug development process, the marketplace, and with suppliers and underserved patient communities globally. Since its founding, WOCIP’s network has grown to more than 5000 professionals representing more than 65 global pharmaceutical companies and clinical research organizations. In her closing keynote, Dr. Jones-Burton will discuss the role of trusted messengers in advancing equity in the biopharmaceutical industry.

“We are navigating a tumultuous time, and we have to ask the difficult question: ‘Are we doing our part as individuals and organizations to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to reach their full health potential?’” said Dr. Jones-Burton. “At the 2021 State of Possible conference, I look forward to igniting actions that will lead to real and lasting change on behalf of the people and communities we serve.”

As MassBio’s annual meeting, the State of Possible Conference taps today’s brightest minds for engaging conversations on the latest developments in our industry, key insights from the past year, and building a better future for patients around the world. To learn more and register, please visit the MassBio website.

Interested media can register for free by contacting Caroline Pepek.

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