BioNJ’s 29th annual dinner meeting celebrates innovators and patients

The 29th annual BioNJ dinner, held at the Hilton East Brunswick last week, was the organization’s first live dinner since February 2020. New Jersey’s life sciences community came out in full support of the inspirational evening and honored the unprecedented medical innovation coming from the Garden State.

BioNJ CEO and President Debbie Hart told the audience of life science professionals: “Because of all of you in this room, and others like you, we are able to return to a sense of normalcy. You are the reason why we are here tonight.

“To say the last two years have been tumultuous is an understatement. Despite the tumult, with 70 new FDA drug approvals coming from companies with a footprint in New Jersey over the last two years — accounting for 40% of all new approvals — our great state continued to lead the way in helping patients live longer, better lives. We were pleased to celebrate their innovation in this way.”

The dinner program featured the presentation of the 2022 Annual Dr. Sol J. Barer Award for Vision, Innovation and Leadership to New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli.

“When the COVID-19 pandemic hit New Jersey, Judy used her decades of experience in nursing, hospital administration and public health to implement never-before-used systems in our hospitals to ensure patients received the care they needed while protecting our doctors, nurses and hospital staff who were placing their own lives in jeopardy to save the lives of their fellow neighbors,” Barer, a BioNJ board member, former chairman and CEO of Celgene Corp. and chairman of the board for Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, stated.

Citing her stalwart leadership at an unprecedented time, Hart noted, “Judy Persichilli was the right person at the right time and is so deserving of this award.”

Discussing the importance of leadership, partnerships and innovation throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Persichilli graciously accepted the award.

Overseeing the state’s health care system, and with a core mission of helping people in New Jersey live long healthy lives, Persichilli said that mission-driven leadership, rooted in a foundation of strong values “is the engine that inspires all of us. … That is what I experienced repeatedly throughout the pandemic.”

The evening opened with the presentation of the Innovator Awards to 43 innovator companies for 70 FDA drug approvals in 2020 and 2021, including:

  • AbbVie for Durysta, Oriahnn, Qulipta and Vuity
  • ADC Therapeutics for Zynlonta
  • Agile Therapeutics for Twirla
  • Althera Pharmaceuticals for Roszet
  • Ascendis Pharma for Skytrofa
  • Athenex for Klisyri
  • Bayer for Kerendia and Lampit
  • Boehringer Ingelheim for Trijardy XR
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb for Abecma, Breyanzi, Onureg and Zeposia
  • Calliditas Therapeutics for Tarpeyo
  • Dr. Reddy’s for Elyxyb and Xeglyze
  • Edenbridge Pharmaceuticals for Dartisla ODT
  • Eli Lilly and Co. for Lyumjev, Retevmo, Tauvid and Trijardy XR
  • Endo International for Qwo
  • Genmab for Tivdak
  • Gilead Sciences for Trodelvy and Veklury
  • GSK for Blenrep and Jemperli
  • Helsinn for Truseltiq
  • Hikma Pharmaceuticals for Kloxxado
  • Janssen Pharmaceutical Cos. of Johnson & Johnson for Ponvory and Rybrevant
  • LEO Pharma for Adbry
  • Melinta Therapeutics for Kimyrsa
  • Merck & Co. for Vaxneuvance, Verquvo and Welireg
  • Novartis for Kesimpta, Leqvio, Scemblix and Tabrecta
  • Novo Nordisk for Sogroya and Wegovy
  • NS Pharma for Viltepso
  • Otsuka Pharmaceutical for Inqovi
  • Oyster Point Pharma for Tyrvaya
  • Pfizer for Comirnaty, Prevnar 20 and TicoVac
  • Pharmacosmos for Monoferric
  • Recordati Rare Diseases for Cystadrops and Isturisa
  • Regeneron Pharmaceuticals for Evkeeza and Inmazeb
  • RVL Pharmaceuticals for Upneeq
  • Sanofi for Fexinidazole, MenQuadfi, Nexviazyme and Sarclisa
  • SCYNEXIS for Brexafemme
  • Seqirus for Audenz
  • Sunovion Pharmaceuticals for Kynmobi
  • Sun Pharmaceutical Industries for Winlevi
  • Taiho Oncology for Inqovi
  • TG Therapeutics for Ukoniq
  • UroGen Pharma for Jelmyto
  • ViiV Healthcare for Apretude, Cabenuva and Rukobia
  • Y-mAbs Therapeutics for Danyelza

The Fourth Annual Heart of BioNJ Awards were presented to New Jersey COVID-19 Heroes — BioNJ members whose innovation, partnerships and dedication impacted the state and the world in its battle against the pandemic. Honorees included:

  • Dr. Andrew Brooks (posthumously): Led the discovery of the first COVID-19 saliva-based test
  • Dr. Brian Strom: BioNJ’s go-to expert and epidemiologist in educating the community and leading the fight against COVID-19 at Rutgers University and beyond
  • Minister Mary Phillips-Blackshear: Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial participant
  • Amy Mansue: Led health care workers throughout the Inspira Health Network as they worked tirelessly to take care of patients with COVID-19
  • Jean Walters: Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial participant
  • Eli Lilly: Bamlanivimab & Etesevimab
  • Fosun Pharma: COVID-19 RT-PCR detection kit
  • Gilead Sciences: Veklury
  • GSK: Sotrovimab
  • Johnson & Johnson/Janssen: JNJ-78436735 COVID-19 vaccine
  • Merck & Co.: Molnupiravir & manufacturing COVID-19 vaccines
  • Novartis: Manufacturing COVID-19 vaccines
  • Pfizer: Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine & Paxlovid
  • Princeton University: The mechanical ventilator Milano
  • Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey: First saliva-based COVID-19 test
  • Sanofi: Manufacturing COVID-19 vaccines