Challenges Transform into Opportunities: Dr Charlotte Jones-Burton’s Impactful Healthcare Journey

Dr. Charlotte Jones-Burton
Dr. Charlotte Jones-Burton

Dr. Charlotte Jones-Burton is a passionate advocate committed to crafting healthier communities globally, driven by a three-pronged approach rooted in community, service and health. With a medical degree and a Master of Science in Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Dr. Jones- Burton embarked on a transformative journey. With over two decades of experience, she has carved her niche as a visionary pharmaceutical executive, a versatile drug development leader and a respected community advocate.

Challenges transform into opportunities under Dr. Jones-Burton’s strategic guidance. In her role as a drug development leader in a biotech company, she orchestrates cross-functional teams with finesse, shaping the future of medicine through innovative clinical trials. With a rare blend of medical expertise and entrepreneurial spirit, she not only excels as a nephrologist and internal medicine physician but also thrives as an accomplished entrepreneur in the realms of direct sales and franchises.

Her ability to empower diverse teams, fostering an environment where creativity and expertise converge, has earned her accolades, including the prestigious New Business Developer award. With each endeavor, she sets new standards, driving her teams to deliver exceptional results and making a profound impact on the healthcare landscape. In the heart of innovation, Dr. Jones-Burton is not merely a name; she is a force, reshaping the future of healthcare with her passion, leadership and commitment to health equity.

Let’s explore Dr. Jones-Burton’s transformative impact on the healthcare industry which is stepping forward with the pursuit of a healthier, more innovative future!

Rx for Resilience

Dr. Jones-Burton is seamlessly blending her expertise as a nephrologist with her passion for research and community advocacy. As a biopharmaceutical executive, her journey spans over a decade in the pharmaceutical industry, where she has pioneered clinical trial development for a myriad of medicines, addressing critical areas such as cardiovascular and renal diseases.

I combine my leadership in research and people development with my clinical acumen to positively impact the lives of patients and communities suffering from severe, chronic diseases,” she says, her words echoing with purpose. I combine my leadership in research and people development with my clinical acumen to positively impact the lives of patients and communities suffering from chronic diseases.”

Over the last 15 years, Dr. Jones-Burton has dedicated herself to leading clinical trials and teams committed to developing medicines for those battling heart and kidney diseases. In her most recent role as Senior Vice President of Product Development and Strategy at Chinook Therapeutics, a position she held until its recent acquisition by Novartis, she exemplified transformative leadership.

Yet, her journey to the top echelons of the corporate world was not without its hurdles. Dr. Jones-Burton is an ambitious African-American woman who has faced the daunting challenge of navigating a landscape marred by structural racism and biases.

Lack of access to information, leaders, key projects, and the necessary development opportunities posed significant barriers,” she reveals, her voice resilient. “Inadequate feedback and communication hindered my growth, making the climb even steeper. Moreover, the lack of understanding regarding my lived experiences and their impact on my work added to the challenges.”

But in the face of adversity, Dr. Jones-Burton emerged as a leader, undeterred and unstoppable. Her story resonates with countless individuals striving for success against all odds. She embodies resilience, determination and the belief that true leadership can dismantle barriers and create pathways for others.

As readers delve into her story, they find not just a tale of personal triumph, but a guiding light illuminating the path toward inclusive leadership. Dr. Jones-Burton’s words serve as a reminder that challenges, no matter how formidable, can be overcome through tenacity, sponsorship, and a steadfast commitment to change.

In the words of this remarkable leader, “I combine my leadership in research and people development with my clinical acumen to positively impact the lives of patients and communities suffering from chronic diseases.” With these words, she paves the way for a future where diversity, understanding and empathy fuel the engine of progress, shaping a world where everyone can thrive, regardless of their background or circumstances.

Passing the Torch, Holding the Flame

In the world of pharmaceuticals, Dr. Jones-Burton is a force to be reckoned with. Her journey, spanning over 15 years, began with a sense of isolation and marginalization, a journey she vows no one else should have to endure. “I started WOCIP® to ensure that others did not have to experience what I experienced,” she states passionately.

Founded in 2015, Women of Color in Pharma (WOCIP®) emerged as an embodiment of hope and empowerment, a professional society dedicated to women of color in the life sciences industry. It’s not just an organization—it’s a business solution, aimed at leveling the playing field and advancing equity. Dr. Jones- Burton’s words echo, “WOCIP® is a business solution to advancing equity, so they can attain decision-making roles.”

WOCIP® has grown into a global force, boasting a network of over 20,000 members and followers from life sciences companies worldwide. Its mission is clear—to empower women of color, enhance their awareness, power and influence, and, in doing so, advance health equity. “We believe that the collective power of women of color is essential to achieving a world where everyone has equitable access to improved health outcomes,” Dr. Jones-Burton emphasizes.

With a strategic approach, WOCIP® tackles the issues of representation and leadership head-on. By bringing together key stakeholders across the health ecosystem, from C-Suite leaders to community influencers, the organization aims to accelerate the path to health equity. “WOCIP® believes it can advance health equity in an accelerated and sustainable manner,” she explains.

But WOCIP®’s mission goes beyond the boardroom. It focuses on the personal and professional development of its members, with a particular emphasis on Black women and Latinas, who lag behind white women in senior levels of leadership within the life sciences industry. “Strengthen cultural and leadership competencies, build higher levels of leadership effectiveness and reinforce the importance of self-care and well-being,” Dr. Jones-Burton outlines the priorities.

In the nurturing environment that WOCIP® provides, members find opportunities for growth, industry insights and solutions. It’s a platform that not only benefits individuals but also offers companies a chance to be part of the equity solution. Dr. Jones-Burton invites businesses to join WOCIP® in increasing their impact, developing their leaders and fostering deeper connections with communities of color.

As Dr. Jones-Burton’s journey continues to inspire, so does WOCIP®’s commitment to empowering women of color in the life sciences industry.

Dose of Determination

In her journey, Dr. Jones-Burton faced significant challenges—overcoming stereotypes and navigating microaggressions. “Interestingly, I have dealt with microaggressions at different levels over the past 15 years,” she shares. Even as a senior leader, there were instances of being excluded from meetings or not provided with all the details related to the work she was responsible for. Dr Jones Burton also had to adapt her skills for responding in meetings when she was spoken over or not asked to represent her work.

I once received indirect feedback that I looked angry,” she reveals. This initially triggered negative emotions due to the stereotypical ‘angry black woman’ label, but she chose resilience. Determined to transform negativity into productivity, she focused on refining her communication cues (non-verbal and verbal) and sought support from peers and advocates. Her approach reflects her resilience: “I navigate this by acknowledging it and focusing on the mission/goals of the work.”

This feedback was indirect and required resilience to move beyond and turn it into something that was productive,” she asserts. This experience underscores the importance of addressing challenges head-on. Dr.

Jones-Burton’s ability to turn adversity into growth is a testament to her leadership philosophy. By refusing to be defined by stereotypes, she exemplifies a crucial lesson: leaders rise above negativity, focusing on their goals and mission. Her story is an inspiration, a reminder that resilience, determination and a clear focus on objectives can help navigate even the toughest challenges in the pursuit of leadership excellence.

In a World of Compounds, She Found Her Formula

Dr. Jones-Burton emphasizes the significance of flexibility and agility, “Ensuring that the organization remains flexible and agile is important,” she asserts, her words carrying a sense of urgency. For any organization, staying true to its mission is paramount. Dr. Jones-Burton advocates tapping into the wealth of experiences held by leaders within the organization. By collecting insights from key stakeholders, strategic planning becomes not just a process but a journey enriched with diverse perspectives.

Analyzing industry trends and relating them to our mission and core values is crucial,” she adds. This insightful analysis ensures evolution without straying from the organization’s mission. It’s about adaptation, a delicate balance between embracing change and preserving the fundamental values that guide the organization’s path.

Beyond the Prescription Pad

Dr. Jones-Burton’s commitment to leadership and equity in the biopharmaceutical industry is an example to many. Her multifaceted expertise, as a medical doctor, health disparities fellow and clinical scientist, fuels her ability to inspire diverse groups to excel. “I have honed my skills to inspire diverse groups of people to engage in their work beyond the norm,” she shares, her words resonating with passion.

In her impactful career, she has not only led teams in developing groundbreaking medicines like Zetia/Vytorin®, Eliquis®, Nulojix®, and Jynarque® but has also championed the cause of women of color through WOCIP®. Under her guidance, numerous women have ascended to higher echelons of leadership within the biopharmaceutical industry. Through WOCIP®, she has influenced crucial policies, such as the FDA’s guidance on Diversity plans, ensuring access to clinical trials for all.

Dr. Jones-Burton’s dedication has garnered recognition, including the MM&M Platinum Award for Outstanding Contribution to Healthcare and WOCIP®’s Global Icon Award. Her influence extends widely—she was recognized among Pharma Voice’s top 100 inspiring      people in 2021 and featured as one of “The Most Influential People in Biopharma” by Fierce Pharma in 2023.

Fueled by Technovation

Utilizing multiple tools is critical,” Dr. Jones-Burton emphasizes, her voice resonating with purpose. In the realm of leadership, reaching out to busy professionals is vital. WOCIP® employs social media, particularly LinkedIn and a learning management system. “We include high-impact content for our members,” she adds.

Additionally, the organization harnesses the power of generative AI, creating engaging assets that empower and inspire professionals from all walks of life.

The Pillars of Empowerment

I envision myself growing WOCIP® as a global organization,” Dr. Jones-Burton shares, her vision resonating with determination. Her leadership aims high shaping the life science industry through influential partnerships that advance health equity.

As a senior industry leader, her goal is clear—ensuring innovations are accessible to all patients making a significant impact on healthcare accessibility and inclusivity.

Pillars of Progress

Having leadership that values diversity is crucial,” Dr. Jones-Burton emphasizes. Fostering innovation hinges on inclusivity as a leader. Encouraging voices from diverse backgrounds ensures a wealth of perspectives. “Listening, responding and healthy discussion are necessary for growth and success,” she affirms. It’s a simple yet profound principle, shaping a culture where every voice matters, fostering innovation and driving collective success.

Bequeathing Wisdom

Dr. Jones-Burton shares invaluable advice to women of color entering in the life sciences industry: “Get connected quickly!” she urges, her words carrying a sense of urgency and purpose. To thrive, she emphasizes the significance of the 4 C’s—The Collective, Confidence, Courage, and Champions.

Find a network of people who will support and assist you,” she advises, highlighting the power of collective effort.

Going solo isn’t the path to success; there’s strength in unity. Cultivating inner strength is equally crucial. “Courage, confidence and visibility that honors who you are as a person are critical to your impact,” she asserts, emphasizing the importance of self-assurance and authenticity.

Moreover, Dr. Jones-Burton underscores the value of mentors and advocates. “Working with a coach and identifying champions can help you thrive,” she states. These mentors serve as guiding lights, providing essential support and encouragement.

Her words resonate with readers from all walks of life, offering a roadmap to leadership excellence. In the face of challenges, she is reminding everyone that with collective support, inner strength and the right champions by their side, they can thrive and make a lasting impact on the world.