Integral Molecular is a founding member of Philadelphia’s biotech community and one of 18 companies currently comprising the Life Science Talent Pipeline Collaborative, a project of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia.
The company was founded more than two decades ago by three PhD and postdoctoral associates from the University of Pennsylvania. Integral is now an industry leader for innovative technologies for the discovery of therapeutics against difficult targets. Headquartered at 3711 Market Street in uCity Square, it is a company at the hub of a connected and collaborative community for biotech, life science, technology, and healthcare in University City.
Adetoun Adeniji-Adele joined Integral as a scientific recruiter, working part-time while completing a PhD. She already had a background in molecular biology and other areas Integral Molecular hires for at the associates to PhD degree levels. Those technical qualifications were just part of what made her the ideal fit for her role in finding and hiring the perfect people to help the company expand the talent that drives Integral forward.
The company recognized she knew the science, Adeniji-Adele said, but they also saw she was passionate about training young scientists and interested in understanding other people’s research. “That’s one reason why this job is so interesting. I‘m constantly talking with people about their research, trying to discover how their research experience, their skill sets, can really fit into what Integral needs on our different teams.”
Adeniji-Adele’s job has evolved in the three years she has been at Integral Molecular. Now full-time, she handles the entire talent acquisition pipeline, recruiting and developing candidates for the lab management team, the scientific teams (Associates to PhD-level scientists) as well as administration and operations, business development, IT, and sales and marketing teams. The company has grown, too, from 55 employees when she started, to 85, with the goal of 90-95 by year’s end.
Adeniji-Adele enthused about the opportunities for new hires. “There are so many ways to make an impact. You can work on the team that isolates the antibody; you can work on the team that characterizes the antibody; you can work on the team that engineers the antibody to make it more specific and more selective; you can work on the team that determines where the antibody binds its specific target. And in every one of those areas, as well as all the different teams we have, you will have the chance to contribute your own ideas to improve how we work and succeed.”
Adeniji-Adele actively recruits students from local universities for internships and jobs, including from Drexel, Temple, and Thomas Jefferson, University of Delaware, University of Pennsylvania, and USciences.
“We hire from one to four Drexel student co-ops each cycle,” she shared, and about half of the Drexel co-ops turn into full-time employees. Integral Molecular also converted its first University of Delaware intern into a full-time employee in June.
What do new hires like about the company? “We give people a lot of flexibility while they learn,” she said. “We’re really open to you being the best that you can be at Integral. We’re invested in you being successful and growing here. And so we take quite a bit of time understanding candidates, then placing them within teams that will allow them to be successful even while they are learning. I tell people – take your skill sets, use them, be successful with a couple of projects, and then start to expand. And people see opportunity for growth with us right from the beginning, and they like that.”
The company also works to build the talent pipeline through community programs and STEM educational initiatives. They are actively involved with the Biomedical Technician Training Program created by The Wistar Institute partnering with Community College of Philadelphia; BULB (Building an Understanding of Lab Basics), University City Science Center’s free, two-week virtual lab skills training program for West Philadelphia residents; and FirstHand, a Science Center program that partners with middle and high schools throughout the city.
Bringing in talent from the West Philadelphia area is one of the company’s goals. “We want to figure out how to recruit more underrepresented minorities into the sciences, including more from the HBCUs in the area.” “We like our neighborhood and we want to make sure that what we do has a positive and continuous impact on the area where we live and work and that has helped make us successful.”
Over the coming months, we’ll introduce you to more of the Life Science Talent Pipeline Collaborative’s member organizations and their efforts to support the sector’s workforce growth as they look to hire talent. The Collaborative welcomes additional members to join. Contact Patricia Day, manager of Leadership Engagement for the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, at [email protected].
The group is employer-led, with actions guided by the cell and gene therapy employers who are its members, acknowledging they know the needs of employers and employees best. To date, participants include: Adaptimmune; AmerisourceBergen; Amicus Therapeutics; Cabaletta Bio; Carisma Therapeutics Inc.; Center for Breakthrough Medicine; Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; Integral Molecular; Interius Biotherapeutics; Iovance Biotherapeutics Inc.; Johnson & Johnson; Merck & Company, Inc.; Passage Bio; Rockland Immunochemicals; Spark Therapeutics, Inc.; Spirovant; SwanBio Therapeutics; University of Pennsylvania Gene Therapy Program and WuXi Advanced Therapies.