Sema4’s Inaugural BIPOC Initiative Genomics Symposium 2022 – a BIG(S) Success!

As part of Sema4’s commitment to strengthen inclusion, diversity, equity, and access in scientific careers, Sema4 recently hosted its inaugural BIPOC Initiative Genomics Symposium at our Stamford headquarters. Organized by Sema4’s Diversity & Inclusion Council and our People team, the multiday event hosted select Ph.D. and post-doctorate students across the country interested in careers in clinical genomics for lecture presentations from Sema4 executive leaders and a chance to present their research studies in an original research symposium event.

The issue of underrepresented minorities in the sciences remains to be addressed. While individuals who identify as Black, Hispanic, and/or Indigenous Americans constitute one-third of the United States population, a Brookings Institute study found they represent less than one in 20 of faculty in sciences across universities. Therefore, BIGS 2022 was created to increase diversity in scientific careers and to promote the recruitment of underrepresented scientists at Sema4.

 

We received applications from postgraduate and postdoctoral candidates across the U.S. They included exceptional candidates from some of the country’s most notable academic and research institutions who were accepted with full stipends, students identified as coming from underrepresented backgrounds in the sciences, and first-generation students. Attendees’ research studies covered topics such as organic chemistry (including nanoparticle synthesis and drug delivery innovation), biology (developmental, molecular, and microbiology), and computational biology, genomics, and biophysics.

On Day 1, we welcomed students with introductions by the Sema4 Diversity & Inclusion Council, followed by a tour of our state-of-the-art Stamford research and laboratory facility. Attendees were then invited to a reception dinner to meet and mingle with Sema4 team members and senior leadership.

The next day began over breakfast with an exciting conversation with Sema4 Founder and President, Dr. Eric Schadt, on the value of precision medicine and the skills he believes future leaders should cultivate early in their careers. Attendees listened in to learn from Sema4’s executive leadership as they presented various topics in Big Data, clinical genomics, and precision medicine during the day. The highlight of the event featured a two-hour lunch and research symposium where accepted students presented their postdoctoral work to more than 100 Sema4 team members across the company.

After several lectures by Sema4 leadership, students were invited to a professional development event hosted by our People team titled, “What You Can Be with a Ph.D.” Attendees received one-on-one mock interviews with panelists and Sema4’s People team to give students an opportunity to practice career interviews, and to provide custom, personalized feedback on their individual areas of strengths and room for growth.

Attendees and Sema4 team members concluded the day full of learning and networking with another dinner at a local restaurant, where the night ended as the event started: enthusiastic, lively, and hungry to learn.

We’re looking forward to hosting the event again next year and continuing to create an enriching environment where diversity & inclusion are an integral part of our mission as we drive to revolutionize healthcare for patients and families around the world. We are committed to cultivating a culture of empowerment and inclusion and encouraging different viewpoints amongst all diverse groups in STEM careers and beyond.