SAN FRANCISCO — A year ago here at the drug industry’s annual confab, the investor relations firm LifeSci Advisors infamously sparked outrage when it hired models in tight dresses in an effort to bring gender balance to its party.

Things were different this year at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference. Instead of a throwing a party, LifeSci’s founder Michael Rice sponsored a Women In Bio networking mixer. In brief comments to a small group of mostly women who attended, he earnestly championed the industry’s female professionals and emphasized the need to promote them, as LifeSci has made it a priority to do for the past year.

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