By Luke Herold

The Southern California Women in Bio chapter, which includes Del Mar residents in leadership positions, has been using its programs to help more women advance in bioscience-related fields.

Women in Bio was founded in 2002 to help female entrepreneurs and executives in the greater Washington, D.C., area. It has since expanded to 13 chapters with approximately 3,000 members around the country.

The group’s programs in the Southern California chapter include a Founder’s Forum, featuring first-time female CEOs of biotech startups; micro-communities that hold monthly meetings, divided based on categories such as antibody, digital health, genomics and other treatment areas, diseases and fields of research; an executive round table with executive-level managers; and a full year Young Women In Bio-Influencer teen program, which meets monthly and connects teens with the industry and professionals in the community for mentorship.

“I really fell in love with the organization and the opportunities to learn and network and accelerate my own path,” said Jennie Starr, the Southern California chapter chair, who lives in Del Mar and joined the group more than three years ago.

Starr, the director of marketing for San Diego-based BioForm Solutions, said there are more than 400 members in the chapter, which includes San Diego, Orange County and Los Angeles.

“Part of my mission this year is really cross-pollinating, allowing professionals to be able to cross-mentor and to be able to also network across their professional areas of interest,” she said, adding that the group works to advance the “strengthening of human capital for the industry in our region as a whole.”

Starr said the organization is also offering an application grant-based program to support diversity and inclusion work of one of its members, or someone from its Southern California community at large. For more information, visit

“This is an exciting addition from our national organization to be a part of working towards equity,” she said.

One of the chapter’s recent events included a discussion on boardroom readiness, featuring two women who serve as board members for local organizations, held virtually in August.

Linda Strause, a biology professor at UC San Diego and owner of a consulting firm that works with clients in the life sciences industry, is one of the founding members of the Southern California chapter.

“I started as a woman who’s been in the life sciences for 30 years, so I’m well-aware of the challenges for a woman in this industry,” said Strause, who lives in Del Mar.


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