Posted by Peggy Kaufman

Last month more than 16,500 leaders of the biotechnology industry, hailing from 49 states and 65 countries, headed to Boston to attend the 2012 Bio International Convention. The JF&CS Fragile Beginnings program was highlighted at this global conference as a model of patient advocacy and partnerships with industry, thanks to our fruitful collaboration with MedImmune LLC. I was honored to be part of a panel discussion entitled "Fragile Beginnings: Biotech, Parents and Providers Partnering Together for Preemies," moderated by Robert Coughlin, CEO of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council. The topic of Fragile Beginnings certainly fit with the theme of BIO 2012: "Connect. Partner. Innovate." Our event was held on a stage in the bustling North Hall of the Boston Convention Center. If you have never attended an international convention of this magnitude – I sure hadn't – it truly seems like a world unto itself, and we really had a feeling that, even for a short time, prematurity had taken center stage!

I was particularly delighted that all my fellow panelists (Kathryn Marous, Gayle Schumacher, and Max Donley, Executive VP of Human Resources and Corporate Affairs for MedImmune) were themselves preemie parents. One of the most meaningful aspects of our Fragile Beginnings Preemie Parent Alliance is that it is truly parent-led, and that the parents who have guided its creation have come together to build a framework of support and information that they wish they had when they welcomed their preemies into the world. This really came across during our event at BIO 2012 and was very moving to behold.

Watch excerpts from the panel discussion on our You Tube channel.

Peggy H. Kaufman, MEd, LICSW is the founding director of the JF&CS Center for Early Relationship Support. With a background in perinatal emotional health and the growth and development of parents, her interests include the earliest relationships. Ms. Kaufman is the recipient of multiple awards for her groundbreaking programs and her commitment to increase awareness of postpartum depression and maternal mental health.