Local Bioscience Leader Honored for Black History Month

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas stands with Dr. Susan Windham-Bannister, a life sciences innovation executive named as BioSpace’s Top Ten African American Leaders in Bioscience. Photo by Diandra Jay / Board of Supervisors.

One of LA County’s best kept secrets is that it is home to a growing bioscience industry that directly employs 90,000 people (indirectly another 100,000) and generates $42.5 billion in economic activity. In the booming bioscience industry, African Americans make up a disproportionately low percentage of leadership positions in the life sciences industry, as demonstrated by several recent studies, including a 2017 study by MassBio. A 2017 study by Nature Biotechnology found that African Americans made up 13% of the population but held only 3% of executive positions at biotech firms.

In honor of Black History Month, BioSpace has highlighted 10 top African American leaders in bioscience who have prominent roles in the bioscience industry.

Susan Windham-Bannister was one of the top African American bioscience leaders making a difference who was honored by BioSpace.  From 2008 to 2016, Windham-Bannister served as founding president and chief executive officer of the $1 billion Massachusetts Life Sciences Initiative. Her role was to develop, implement and lead the strategy for the investment initiative. Biomedical Growth Strategies is a boutique strategy advisory firm serving the life sciences industry. She received a BA from Wellesley College, a PhD in Health Policy and Management from the Florence Heller School at Brandeis University, and a Doctor of Science from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. She was a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School and as a Fellow in the Center for Science and Policy (CSAP) at Cambridge University, England.

Windham-Bannister has been instrumental in the regional bioscience efforts spearheaded by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.  She was featured as a panelist in the 2018 Bioscience Summit where she discussed LA’s Bioscience Ecosystem and retaining bioscience companies in the region. She currently serves as Chief Strategy Officer at BioLA.