Diversity Alliance for Science connects diverse suppliers to health care industry

Some 15 years ago, two visionaries — Leah Brown, then founder, president and CEO, A10 Clinical Solutions Inc., and Jackie La Joie, then a director of supplier diversity at Merck & Co. Inc. — recognized the need for a life science-focused organization where corporations and small/diverse suppliers could intersect. Together, they founded Diversity Alliance for Science or DA4S. 

Today, DA4S — a nonprofit 501(c)(3)— is the nation’s premier platform for connecting small/diverse suppliers and corporations within the life science and health care industries. 

Since holding its first conference 15 years ago in New Jersey, DA4S has experienced significant growth, partnering with over 800 companies, scaling its membership base to about 475 members and hosting over 80 events. It has been the primary connection point, resulting in more than 200 business-to-business or B2B and 300 corporate-to-supplier success stories among its members.

Dee Knopp, executive director of DA4S, said the organization remains committed to being the leading nonprofit life sciences organization promoting the economic growth of small/diverse businesses and improving the quality of patient care by fostering relationships among life sciences agencies.

“What is great about DA4S is there are innovative suppliers in such a wide variety of products and services, especially in areas unique to the life science and health care industries such as site and trial management, patient support, digital health, engineering, manufacturing and lab consumables, medical writing and many more,” she said. “There is no other organization that provides such value, innovation and networking opportunities for small/diverse suppliers and corporations within these industries. 

“The founding corporations and board members designed DA4S to maximize value to its members through unique and engaging programming and networking opportunities,” Knopp continued. “We remind our members that it takes many touchpoints; it’s not a one-and-done meeting. In addition to multiple touch points, it’s timing. Patience, persistence and passion will lead to success.”

She said small, diverse businesses in the life sciences industry are often more tempted to pursue the for-profit sector for business opportunities. Since its inception, DA4S understood this temptation and wanted to be “the” organization that enables broader considerations, awareness-building and networking for its’ members to explore opportunities with pharma, biotech, health care and academic agencies all under one roof. 

Through collaborative partnerships, the members have a broader pool of business opportunities available to them. The theory is to view this strategy from the nonprofit organizations’ angle of government and academia, ending up with a broader pool of qualified businesses available for consideration to meet their business needs. 

According to DA4S, the future of biopharmaceuticals has never been more important, and scientific discovery will continue to be a common denominator among pharma, medical device and biotech companies as well as their partners, distributors, group purchasing organizations or GPOs and insurers. 

“The COVID pandemic has shown how important treatment and access to all is to care for patients and save lives. Our suppliers contributed to many needs throughout the pandemic and are still providing services,” said Kathy April Rush, DA4S’ immediate past president. “While the pandemic exposed many things, the reality of underserved communities came to light. Diversity in clinical trials is still a real issue and inclusion is still a priority. Thus, there will always be a need for suppliers in the life sciences, and DA4S helps prepare them. Our future includes identification of early-stage entrepreneurs for innovation and mentoring, collaborating with more of our [nongovernmental organization or] NGO partners, and an eye on the global life science supply chain.”   

DA4S has many events and programs planned for 2022 to celebrate its 15-year anniversary. To learn more about the organization, its annual programs and events, visit diversityallianceforscience.com. 

To learn more about Diversity Alliance for Science, visit DiversityAllianceforScience.com.


Leah Brown A10 Clinical Solutions Inc. Jackie La Joie Merck & Co. Inc. Diversity Alliance for Science DA4S New Jersey B2B corporate-to-supplier nonprofit life sciences organization Dee Knopp biopharmaceuticals scientific discovery Diversity in clinical trials Kathy April Rush innovation and mentoring NGO partners

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