NC’s Kimberly Smith of ViiV Among 2020's ‘Fiercest Women in Life Sciences’

Kimberly Smith, MD, MPH
Kimberly Smith, MD, MPH. -- ViiV photo

As its name suggests, Fierce Pharma has unabashedly reported 2020’s Fiercest Women in Life Sciences and the hurdles they overcame.

The year 2020 has not been short of obstacles, especially for women. Women account for higher rates of leaving the workplace during the pandemic, according to a “Women in the Workplace” report by McKinsey and Lean In. Changes in work and home life impact a problem already evident in corporate America: gender disparity.

Fortunately, it is not all doom and gloom for women in the life sciences. The advent of 2020 also showed that female representation at the senior vice president level had increased by 5% in five years.

Biopharma companies can close the gap by investing in women under the “broken rung.” Women are still less likely to be promoted to management, holding only 38% of these positions.

Despite the narrow pipeline, women are making their own space in the biopharmaceutical world. Reshma Kewalramani became the first woman to run a large biotech company. She landed the role of CEO for Vertex Pharmaceuticals in April of this year.

Of the 20 women highlighted by Fierce Pharma, one hails from North Carolina -- Kimberly Smith, M.D., senior vice president and head of research and development of ViiV Healthcare in Research Triangle Park.

Smith always aspired to be in healthcare. She began her career as the HIV/AIDS crisis grew in America, and quickly dedicated her research to immune reconstitution and clinical trials for HIV medication. Smith also dedicated her efforts toward racial disparities in healthcare, recognizing that over half of those infected with HIV were black women, a group that represents only 13% of the total population.

She was hired by ViiV to lead the clinical development program, where she expanded research and development. That early development and discovery research now means that HIV patients require fewer medications, and those they take have longer-acting qualities. Smith’s contributions to people with HIV and to ViiV are significant.

Smith’s experience, knowledge, training and passion are what make her voice important. ViiV also boasts a gender-balanced executive team — unusual in the life sciences.

Fierce Pharma celebrates 20 women who have beaten the odds, hopped the broken rung and ascended the corporate ladder.

Here’s Fierce’s alphabetical list of significant women who are changing the game in 2020:

Charlotte Allerton, Pfizer

Camille Bedrosian, Ultragenyx

Terry-Ann Burrell, Beam Therapeutics

Adrienne Farid, Century Therapeutics

Kimberly Lounds Foster, Bristol Myers Squibb

Yvonne Greenstreet, Alnylam

Ellie Guardino, Genentech

Pearl Huang, Cygnal Therapeutics

Lisa Jiao, Amarin

Julie Kim, Takeda

Eleanor Lisbon, Imara

Carol Lynch, Novartis

Cindy Perettie, Foundation Medicine

Fernanda Rabello, Merck KGaA

Kimberly Smith, ViiV Healthcare

Elaine Sorg, AbbVie

Liane Teplitsky, Zimmer Biomet

Helen Torley, Halozyme

Jo Viney, Pandion Therapeutics

Nancy Whiting, Seagen


Lindsey Baron, NCBiotech Writer
Wed, 11/18/2020 - 22:21