This morning, I had the honor to host a panel discussion at the BioInternational Conference with four women who are leaders in the life sciences sector. We talked about the industry as a whole, their inspirations and mentors, their backgrounds and education and most importantly, what we can do as a state to continue to nurture and expand the opportunities for scientists and entrepreneurs in the life science sector.
And throughout the entire conversation, one thing remained very clear. Maryland women continue to pave the way forward.
More than a hundred years ago, a Marylander named Martha Carey Thomas laid the foundation for women in science for generations to come when she raised and donated $500,000 for a then-struggling Johns Hopkins Medical School. She would only give them the money on the condition that women be admitted and thanks in large part to her vision, Johns Hopkins became the first graduate-level medical school to admit women on an equal basis as men.
Today, women continue to lead the way in every part of our state. Whether it’s Dr. Carol Grieder, a Hopkins professor and winner of a 2009 Nobel Prize for Medicine, Colonel Judith Robinson, the commander of Ft. Detrick Army Garrison in Frederick or Senator Barbara Mikulski, the longest-serving woman in U.S. Senate history, Maryland has an abundance of smart, successful women who work to move us forward.
It’s no surprise that Maryland has the highest percentage of women-owned businesses in the nation and that we’re in the top 10 states in the nation for the percent of women-owned businesses in the professional, scientific and technical services sector.
Today’s conference showed once again that Maryland is rapidly emerging as the national leader in biotech and the life sciences. In fact, in the last 8 years, even in tough times, our life sciences industry accounted for a full one-third of all of our state’s job gains and it contributed $16.7 Billion in GDP last year alone. We also now have the nation’s 5th largest concentration of private life sciences facilities with 1,700 facilities calling Maryland home.
We lead the nation today, and with leaders (and mentors for our future generations) like Debra Bowes, President and CEO of TDP Bio, Maura Kahn, Vice President of Business Development and Marketing for Noxilizer, Dr. Bahija Jallal, Executive Vice President of R & D for MedImmune and Dr. Claire Fraser, Professor of Medicine and Microbiology at the Institute for Genome Science, we will continue to pave the way forward.