Getting more women into scientific jobs in the Madison area -- that's the goal of a new effort starting this month.

Women in Biohealth launches on January 17 with a roundtable discussion and networking event, organized by BioForward, the state's biohealth advocacy organization. 

The idea is to "bring women together and to support young professionals and students" and show them "there are paths for women in (the biotech) industry," said BioForward CEO Lisa Johnson.

She said two women employees of Illumina -- a California biotech research products company with operations in Madison -- approached BioForward with the idea last summer.

"I think women are coming together and saying, 'we've got to do more,'" Johnson said.

In the coming months, Women in Biohealth is expected to work on professional development for women in scientific fields, helping biotech companies understand what women can bring to their organizations, and offering more mentorship, Johnson said.

The opening event will be held Jan. 17, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., at 510 Charmany Drive, Room 50, in University Research Park.

Contact Judy Newman at jdnewman@madison.com with tips and story suggestions.

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Judy Newman is a business reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.