• Jessie Xiaoya Ma

BCLA's 6th Annual Biotech Summit: LA's Evolving Biotech Industry in an Unprecedented Time


On October 24th 2020, BCLA held our biggest event of the year. The 6th Annual Biotech Summit was centered around the theme “LA's evolving biotech industry in an unprecedented time.” Our summit was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic but it turned out to be a great success. With over 100 attendees and overwhelmingly positive feedback, we were able to deliver insightful and thought-provoking conversations and provide a platform for networking in the life science community.


The summit kicked off with a warm welcome from BCLA’s president, Adhirath Sikhand, and opening remarks by Jasson Crockett, the Director of Community Business & Economic Innovation from the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development. We then had a fantastic live speech from our high-profile keynote speaker, Rick Berke, who is the Co-Founder and Executive Editor of STAT news. Rick’s speech focused on “Inside the STAT news: A Year of Reporting on the Pandemic,” where he touched on how the world is evolving as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, how the pandemic is impacting news reporting, and how the biotech industry is impacted and responding to the pandemic, from producing testing kits to researching vaccines. The engaging speech encouraged our audience to ask a lot of questions and resulted in many meaningful discussions.

Our first panel discussion was “Inequity in Healthcare: The Impact of COVID-19 on LA’s Communities of Color.” We were thrilled to have a strong, dynamic and diverse panel: Dr. Katya Corado, Investigator at The Lundquist Institute; Dr. Reginald Tucker-Seeley, Assistant Professor and Chair in Gerontology at USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology; Carmen Ibarra, CEO at The Achievable Foundation and Board Chair of the Community Clinical Association of Los Angeles County; and Dr. Edward Jones-Lopez, Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at USC Keck School of Medicine, as well as our amazing moderator Yordanos Gebretatios, former Executive Director of LA Bioscience Hub. The thought-provoking discussion covered gender, race, color, homelessness, and veteran community-related healthcare inequality issues.

Our fireside chat and second panel discussion “Accelerating LA’s Biotech Ecosystem” was with outstanding leaders: Susan Windham-Bannister, the President and CEO at Biomedical Growth Strategies; Llewellyn Cox, CEO of LabLaunch and General Partner at MarsBio; Bassil Dahiyat, President and CEO of Xencor; Jo Bhakdi, Founder and CEO of Quantgene; along with our remarkable moderator Dave Whelan, CEO of BioscienceLA. COVID-19 has served as a biotech accelerator and Los Angeles-based companies have risen to the challenge during a time of crisis. This panel brought together innovators to share how they have continued innovating during this crisis and how the LA biotech ecosystem has supported their success. The panel also discussed the current deficiencies in the LA biotech ecosystem and how we can ensure continuous growth of LA’s biotech industry.

Our most exciting and interactive part of the summit were two live breakout sessions: Start-up Studio and Career Choices. We invited over 35 extraordinary mentors and covered 21 unique topics. The Start-up studio topics included the essential perspectives of creating a company: Funding, Ideation & Commercialization, Market Strategies & Business Development, Team Building, Accelerator Programs and Legal Issues. The Career Choices topics included a wide spectrum of areas from VC, to Start-up Founders, to R&D, Science Communication, Regulatory Affairs, to Project Management and Tech Transfer and Licensing. These highly specified topics gave our audience the opportunity to interact with experts in each area and gain insights on their career options. We encourage you to refer to our booklet for our carefully curated mentor lists and connect with them for further questions.

This summit aligned with BCLA’s goal to continue providing an accessible platform for all stakeholders in biotech, during the COVID-19 pandemic when many individuals and entities are experiencing financial hardship. With a well curated program including a high-profile keynote speaker, two panel discussions, breakout sessions and networking components, we engaged our diverse membership base to foster career advancement and promote collaborations between researchers and industry leaders.


We would like to thank the entire BCLA team, who worked relentlessly to put this phenomenal summit together. We would like to thank all of our extraordinary speakers and mentors for their time and contribution, and we would especially like to thank you, the wonderful audience for participating. If you would like to know more information about our summit, please find the recordings below:

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