Michelle McMurry-Heath is the President and CEO of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO). A medical doctor and molecular immunologist by training, Dr. McMurry-Heath leads BIO as it advocates for its 1,000 members that discover and deploy innovative scientific breakthroughs to improve human health, environmental stewardship, and food security.
McMurry-Heath is a firm believer that science is limitless if we limit science less. At BIO, she has sought to unleash the power of science to solve society’s biggest challenges by uniting and empowering biotech innovators and removing barriers to their work. She has made the organization a “voice of and for science” and redefined BIO’s mission and vision around driving and advancing bio-revolution to cure patients, protect our climate, and nourish humanity.
A common thread across “Dr. Michelle’s” career in academia, government, and industry has been her focus on broadening access to scientific progress so more patients from diverse backgrounds can benefit from cutting-edge innovation. Driven by her experiences at the research bench and with patients attempting to navigate clinical trials and funding uncertainties, McMurry-Heath calls “the distribution of scientific progress the social justice issue of our age.” Upon coming to BIO, she launched the BIOEquality Agenda to harness the potential of biotechnology for underserved communities and champions issues such as greater clinical trial diversity.
McMurry-Heath previously worked at Johnson & Johnson in regulatory and clinical leadership positions. She was also instrumental in bringing J&J’s incubator, JLabs, to Washington, DC. Prior to her time at J&J, Dr. McMurry-Heath was a key science policy leader in government. She served as associate center director for science at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. In that role, she championed clinical trial evolution, the use of real-world evidence in product evaluation, and an embrace of the patient’s voice in health research. She continues to advocate for many of these positions at BIO.
McMurry-Heath was the founding director of the Aspen Institute’s Health, Biomedical Science, and Society Policy Program, where she promoted personalized medicine and bolstered international preparation for pandemic disease threats. She received her early training in science policy from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and later served as Senator Joe Lieberman’s top legislative aide for science and health. In that role, she drafted legislation to protect the country from biological attacks.
McMurry-Heath received her MD/Ph.D. from Duke’s Medical Scientist Training Program, becoming the first African American to graduate from the prestigious program. She spent 12 years working at the research bench before taking policy and leadership roles in government and industry.
McMurry-Heath lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband Sebastian Heath, a veterinarian, and their daughter, Isabella. To relax, she enjoys yoga, snorkeling, and attending her daughter’s sporting events.