Highlighting Black Leaders in the Biopharma Industry

For Black History Month, HPNE would like to discuss the accomplishments of some of the Black professionals who are making a lasting impact in our industry.

In addition to our team wearing red for National Wear Red Day earlier this month, High Purity New England (HPNE) would like to show our support for Black History Month by highlighting some of the Black professionals who are currently making a difference in our industry.

What is Black History Month?

Black History Month is a time to recognize, honor, and celebrate the contribution of African Americans to American society throughout history. The month dedication began in 1976, and is incredibly important as many textbooks or other sources of historical information tend to overlook or even ignore the integral contributions, ideas, and inventions of African Americans.

While reflecting on the success of these individuals, we want to highlight three current industry professionals as well as another notable figure that we feel have had a major impact on the biopharma and biotech industries.

Stanley Lewis M.D., M.P.H. - Founder and CEO of A28 Therapeutics

Dr. Stanley Lewis founded A28 Therapeutics in 2021, and has over 25 years of industry experience. Currently, he is the company's Chief Executive Officer. Prior to his founding of A28 Therapeutics, Dr. Lewis previously held multiple clinical development roles, including Chief Medical Officer of Ansun Biopharma, Diabetes Relief and TaiMed Biologics. He also previously worked in the academic field as the Assistant Professor of Medicine at the McGovern Medical School in the Department of Internal Medicine. 

He is a graduate of the University of Texas McGovern Medical School. There, he completed his residency, internship, and fellowship for internal medicine. Additionally, he has his Masters in Public Health. Dr.Lewis holds multiple patents, has multiple patents pending, and has published multiple peer-reviewed articles. He has also held a principal or co-investigator role for various clinical trials. Additionally, he was listed to the San Diego Business Journal’s SD 500 in 2022, and is a member of the National Medical Association, American Medical Association, and American Academy of HIV Medicine. The Brentwood Community Foundation has also presented Dr.Lewis with the Trail Blazer in Medicine award.

Cynthia Patton - General Counsel and Secretary, Tessera Therapeutics

Cynthia Patton is a leader in the legal and procedural aspects of biotechnology and biopharmaceuticals. Currently, she is working as the General Counsel and Secretary at Tessera Therapeutics. She has utilized the experience she gained in previous roles working at law firms that specialize in health, corporate, and securities law. Prior to her current role, Patton was the General Counsel and Secretary at Verily Life Sciences, and Senior Vice President and Chief Compliance Officer at Amgen. There, she also served on the Amgen Foundation as a board chair. 

She received her undergraduate education at Vassar College, and earned her Juris Doctor degree at George Washington University. Patton has been the recipient of many awards, including the ECI Carol R. Marshall Award for Innovative Corporate Ethics in 2019, being named to the Most Influential Black Lawyers list in 2018 and 2022, and being named one of the Top Blacks in Healthcare in 2019 by BlackDoctor.org and George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. She is on the board of directors at the New York University School of Law, and is a member of the Board of Trustees for the NALP Foundation

Abraham N. Ceesay - Chief Executive Officer, Rapport Therapeutics

Currently holding the position of Chief Executive Officer at Rapport Therapeutics, Abraham N. Ceesay has almost two decades of industry experience. Prior to this position, he was the President of Cerevel Therapeutics, and CEO of Tiburio Therapeutics. At Tiburio, he was integral for the success of the company's program for a rare neuroendocrine tumor. In his academic career, Ceesay earned his undergraduate degree from Ithaca College, and his MBA from Suffolk University. He is on the board of trustees at the Museum of Science in Boston, serves on the Board of Directors for Camp Harbor View and Life Sciences Cares.

Henrietta Lacks

One well-known example of how history can often overlook major contributions of African Americans is the story of Henrietta Lacks. Born in 1920, Henrietta Lacks was diagnosed with cervical cancer in her 30’s. Her cancer cells were collected, and unknown to her, would be the origin of the HeLa cell. HeLa cells are crucial to drug discovery and development for multiple major illnesses without needing to test on humans. Previous cells collected for testing would quickly die off, whereas Lacks’s cancer cells remained alive, and nearly doubled every 24 hours.

Lacks and her family were not informed of this life saving development, even after her cells were used to create treatments that were sold for a profit. It wasn’t until 2023 when the family of Henrietta Lacks was compensated for this life saving contribution. This story was originally brought to light in a largely public way with the release of the 2010 novel “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”, published almost 60 years after her cells were collected.

Supporting the Community Year Round

High Purity New England is dedicated to supporting causes and events that are important to our employees and our community. In addition to supporting Black History Month, HPNE has also previously supported multiple month dedications, including Women’s History Month, Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, and more. To learn more, visit our community involvement blog category page.

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About HPNE

As the industry needs grow, High Purity New England, Inc. continues to supply the biopharmaceutical industry with a range of innovative products, from drug discovery and development to fill-finish, including their flagship product, custom single-use assemblies, as well as pumps, sensors, bioreactor systems, storage and handling solutions and other single-use solutions. Along with their own manufactured products for the global market, they are also a distributor for more than 18 brands in North America.

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