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HomeNewsBIO Chief Executive Michelle McMurry-Heath Exits After Clashes With Board

BIO Chief Executive Michelle McMurry-Heath Exits After Clashes With Board


The chief executive of the biotechnology industry’s top lobbying group in Washington resigned on Monday, the organization said.

Michelle McMurry-Heath

left the Biotech Innovation Organization after she was on leave following disagreements with some board members, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Dr. McMurry-Heath resigned from her position, effective Tuesday, BIO said, and will serve in an advisory role to BIO. The organization said Rachel King, co-founder and former CEO of

GlycoMimetics Inc.

GLYC -3.31%

will serve as interim CEO as it searches for a replacement. 

Dr. McMurry-Heath didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Following her resignation, Dr. McMurry-Heath sent an email to colleagues that was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, thanking them for their work.

“Together we have tackled the goals of impacting policy, standing up for patients, raising the profile of BIO, weathering the pandemic, injecting the theme of social justice into the case for innovation and becoming the voice of science,” the email stated.

A molecular immunologist, Dr. McMurry-Heath had led the organization, known as BIO, since mid-2020. Before joining BIO, she held roles at

Johnson & Johnson

and at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

BIO’s board was scheduled to hold a special meeting on Monday, according to some people familiar with the matter.

In a public statement, BIO Board Chair

Paul Hastings,

who serves as chief executive of biotech firm

Nkarta Inc.,

thanked Dr. McMurry-Heath for leading the organization and said the board appreciated her continued work with BIO.

She and some board members clashed on multiple fronts, the Journal previously reported. Some members have wanted BIO to engage more on general social issues not directly connected to healthcare policy, while she felt the organization’s advocacy should stay focused on biotech, some people said.

Some board members expressed concerns about her performance and management style, people familiar with the matter said.

BIO has conducted a review of her job performance, some people familiar with the matter said. Some of those people questioned whether the review was fair.

BIO’s leadership change comes as the drug industry braces for major changes to how companies do business with the government.

The trade group opposed the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act, which triggered drug-pricing rules that are expected to be the most significant changes in nearly two decades to how the government pays for prescription drugs.

BIO is a prominent voice in the nation’s capital on behalf of drugmakers, including many biotechnology companies; it lobbies policy makers on government issues such as taxes and regulations. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, is the other top industry group and represents large companies.

Dr. McMurry-Heath was the first African-American to graduate from Duke University’s Medical Scientist Training Program, where she earned her medical degree and doctorate, according to a biography on the BIO website.

She was an adviser to former Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D., Conn.) and was responsible for health policy on his 2004 presidential campaign.

Write to Jared S. Hopkins at [email protected]

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