Recognizing Novel Ideas that Shift the Status Quo in Science and Research
Andy Chan, M.D., Ph.D.
Patricia Himmels, Ph.D.
Claire Jeong, Ph.D.
Heshan Peiris, Ph.D.

Genentech's internal Award for Inclusive Research and Science (AIRS) recognizes those who advance diversity and inclusion in genetic research and beyond.

Diversity and inclusion in research and science remain a critical unmet need. Unfortunately, both basic and preclinical studies often fail to account for the full spectrum of genetic diversity, such as sex, gender, ancestry, age and more. This can lead to negative outcomes since predictions and results will not generalize for a diverse population of patients.

To tackle this unmet need and generate solutions, Genentech's Research and Early Development (gRED) department initiated the Award for Inclusive Research and Science which recognizes and funds bold ideas that challenge the current status quo. gRED employees were invited to submit proposals on how to make current research or a new research project more inclusive and diverse.

"Diversity, inclusion and unconscious bias are often thought about in hiring and interviewing but rarely in research," says Patricia Himmels, Ph.D., a Postdoctoral Research Fellow Molecular Oncology Division. "The opportunity is in promoting discovery and ideation and making it more visible within Genentech so solutions can be found."

The winning proposal by Claire Jeong, Ph.D., Principal Scientific Manager, Neuroscience Stem Cell Group, and Heshan Peiris, Ph.D., Principal Scientist, Department of Human Genetics, addresses Alzheimer's disease (AD), a key research area for gRED.

Together, Jeong and Peiris are researching how individual cells behave in patients with AD and map back to patients' overall genetic makeup. In time, this representative genetic sampling could help ensure not only greater patient safety in AD treatments, but also lay the groundwork for quicker drug approval processes.

"The whole point of human genetics research is to include all these different genetic and nongenetic backgrounds so that we can model diseases better," says Jeong.

According to Peiris, "If you want to be a modern drug discovery company, you have to look at your patient population. You have to understand the importance of diversity and you have to implement that in the way you do science. And I think Genentech is at the forefront of that."

With the Award for Inclusive Research and Science, we promote transparency in study design, and make findings more accurate by integrating genetic and non-genetic diversity in study design by default. We are committed to science that includes everyone for the benefit of all patients.
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