Biotechnology Institute Award’s 2018 Woman of the Year Award to J&J’s Seema Kumar


The Biotechnology Institute gave its newly launched 2018 Woman of the Year Award to Seema Kumar, vice president of Innovation, Global Health and Science Policy Communication for Johnson & Johnson. The award is part of the Institute’s new Bi♀GENEius Innovators women-in-science mentoring initiative.

Kumar works closely with Johnson & Johnson’s chief scientific officer and worldwide chairman of Pharmaceuticals, as well as communication leaders in both the company’s corporate and research-and-development areas. She is also the communication leader for the Worldwide R&D Council and several Innovation Centers.

Before taking this position, Kumar was vice president, Global R&D Communications at The Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of J&J, where she oversaw internal and external communications across the pharmaceutical R&D enterprise. Prior to working at Janssen, Kumar was the chief communications officer at the Whitehead Institute/Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Genome Research, where she was deeply involved in creating awareness globally about the Human Genome Project.

Kumar holds a master’s degree in science journalism from the University of Maryland, a fellowship at the National Cancer Institute, a Bachelor of Science and Communication from the University of Maryland, a graduate diploma in journalism and mass communication, and a Bachelor of Science in physics from Stella Maris College, in Madras, India. She has published more than 200 news and feature articles, and has won several awards, including an Award of Excellence in writing from the American Medical Writers Association and three Gold Medals for Media Relations, Science Education, and Web Development.

The Biotechnology Institute chose Kumar for its first Woman of the Year award partly for her work to increase representation of women and young people in the sciences.

“Seema believes a great idea can come from anywhere, and she has an intense dedication to fostering the very best talent in innovative research no matter who they are or where they’re from,” said Larry Mahan, president of the Biotechnology Institute, in a statement. “She is an especially strong champion of young scientists via the Institute’s BioGENEius Challenge and Gene Pool Pitch Competition held every year at the BIO International Convention to showcase the research excellence and entrepreneurial spirit of top U.S. and international high school students in healthcare, food sustainability and industrial/environmental applications of biotechnology.”

The Biotechnology Institute is an independent, national nonprofit focused on education about biotechnology. Its Bi♀GENEius Innovators program draws from the Institute’s 50 percent participation by young women in the BioGENEius program. The program brings together Biotechnology Institute alumni and experienced women professionals for two days of formal and informal networking and exchange.

Jim Greenwood, president of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), said in a statement, “Amidst the myriad responsibilities she undertakes for J&J, Seema still finds time to create or support new programs that promote inclusivity in the sciences—especially of youth and women of all cultural ethnicities. This year in addition to participation in and championing the BioGENEius Challenge, BioGENEius Gene Pool Competition and Bi♀GENEius Innovators program, she announced the launch of an ambitious Johnson & Johnson Champions of Science storytelling program to spotlight innovators from all over the world.”


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