The Inspiration Behind a New Diversity Program for Biotech in Seattle


The inspiration behind the Invent at Seattle Children’s Postdoctoral Scholars Program began at a workshop.

Eric Nealy, who saw what the life sciences field could look like after attending a workshop with other Black scientists, helped launch the program last June with the aim of increasing diversity in biotech and create a more inclusive environment for Black and other under-represented individuals within the field.

Nealy partnered with his graduate advisor Jim Olson to cultivate the $45 million program training scientists from racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds, which launched last June.

Building the program on new principals, Nealy and Olson listened to graduate students from under-represented groups on their ideal experience and created a unique admissions process. The application doesn’t include deadlines or lengthy essays but focuses on the candidates’ curiosities and passions for their science.

“There is just an absolute absence of black and brown scientific leaders and it’s even more pronounced in biotech,” said Olson, also a co-founder of Seattle-area biotech companies Presage Biosciences, Blaze Bioscience and Link Immunotherapeutics. “This is kind of the capstone of my career, we want to be a role model for other organizations.”