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BIO Alabama Names Director As It Targets Bioscience Sector Growth


BIO Alabama said experienced healthcare executive Sonia Robinson has joined the statewide bioscience trade association as its first full-time executive director, leading efforts within the sector to grow employment, increase research development and expand international trade.

“The entire life sciences ecosystem is active in Alabama from research to institutional tech transfer; from startups and corporate innovation to global manufacturing,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“With this milestone, BIO Alabama is positioned to foster continued growth and development within the bioscience industry.”

The biosciences industry contributes $7.3 billion in economic impact to Alabama annually, according to an analysis conducted for BIO Alabama in 2018.

Industry segments represented in Alabama include medical devices and materials, drug discovery and development, R&D, information technology, genetics, genomics and personalized medicine.

BIO Alabama’s mission is to cultivate a thriving bioscience ecosystem in Alabama through collaboration and investment, both in industry and research.

“Alabama is home to cutting-edge research and innovation; we want to be recognized as such and to help our bioscience industry grow,” said BIO Alabama Board Chair Peggy Sammon, CEO and co-founder of Huntsville’s GeneCapture.

“It’s time to devote full-time resources to this goal, and we’re confident that Sonia Robinson will bring the leadership and strategic thinking to this effort.”

Personal connection

Robinson’s career in healthcare marketing and public relations and her experience with startups are relevant to the issues BIO Alabama is addressing. Robinson has held positions in marketing, business development, customer service, human resources and back-office operations.

Sonia Robinson is the first full-time executive director of BIO Alabama. (contributed)

In 2017, Robinson was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her personal investigation into treatment options gave her deep respect for the efforts of researchers and especially the role of personalized medicine. She is now active as a survivor and advocate.

“As an Alabama native, I am so proud of our rich history in agriculture, automobiles, tech, rockets and aviation. Bioscience joined the state narrative years ago, but it is time to share that news of those successes and impact more broadly,” Robinson said.

“Communities and companies in Alabama are already experiencing how bioscience is an economic force for our future,” she added.

Birmingham-based BIO Alabama is the state partner of the international life sciences trade organization Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO).

“We have an active board ready to support our new executive director with strategic initiatives designed to cultivate relationships and expand networks for the many bioscience companies in our state,” said Alabama Power Co.’s Blair King, chair-elect of the BIO Alabama board.

“BIO Alabama enhances statewide economic development initiatives by supporting new, emerging and existing bioscience organizations through collaboration, advocacy and support,” he added.

This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.

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