Talent looking to join Greater Philadelphia’s cell and gene therapy hub can hear firsthand from those living and working here about the industry’s opportunities and the region’s quality of life. So far, 11 talent ambassadors have shared their stories as part of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia’s “Discovery Starts with Me” series.

For our latest “Discovery Starts with Me” story, we sat down with Brent Chamberlain, Associate Director of Cell and Gene Therapy at the Jefferson Institute of Bioprocessing (JIB). JIB is a full-service development and training organization specializing in biopharmaceuticals and biologics. JIB offers early-phase pre-clinical process development, product development, analytical, quality control, stability and release testing, world-class industry training, and strong credential programs through Thomas Jefferson University. JIB’s team of bioprocessing experts brings both industry knowledge and seasoned experience to all of its work.

JIB’s fully flexible, state-of-the-art single-use facility with BSL1 and BSL2 capability is located in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, just outside Philadelphia. The space is divided into development areas devoted to therapeutic programs, including proteins, monoclonal antibodies, fusion proteins, bispecific, and antibody drug conjugates. JIB also supports cell and gene therapy, next-generation vaccines, and viral vectors.

Greater Philadelphia’s cell and gene therapy sector and life sciences industry, as a whole, provides its talent and companies with a connected, collaborative, and accessible environment. Life sciences hubs like Greater Philadelphia offer employees comparable opportunities to those found on the West Coast. Professionals like JIB’s Brent Chamberlain, a southern California native, are helping our local cell and gene therapy companies, research institutions, and the patients they serve to thrive.

Prior to relocating, Chamberlain had not spent much time on the East Coast apart from attending conferences. To make the move east, Chamberlain needed to be presented with an incredible opportunity. JIB’s Executive Director, Dr. Parviz Shamlou, and Director of PD and Operations, Dr. Cameron Bardliving, who were once Chamberlain’s professors at the Keck Graduate Institute in Clairemont, California, invited Chamberlain to join them in Greater Philadelphia to propel JIB’s expansion into cell and gene therapy.

Chamberlain said that Shamlou and Bardliving approached him at the right time when he was looking to explore different aspects of his pharmaceutical career.

“Traditionally in pharmaceuticals, you’re often asking, ‘How do you design the product appropriately, and for what specific patient subpopulation, when you give the treatment? It’s very much clinical and product-focused, versus with cell and gene therapies, it’s very much CMC. CMC means chemistry, manufacturing, and control, which is the idea of how do you make the products, how do you make them consistently, and how do you make them high-quality?” Chamberlain explained. 

“Those are the challenges that we face. I think seeing those challenges within an industrial setting led me to want to work more on solving these problems rather than just experiencing them and trying to find ways around them in an industrial setting. Conveniently or serendipitously, at that time, Parviz and Cameron were looking to expand JIB into the cell and gene therapy field. When they called me up, I thought the opportunity sounded awesome because I could go there and work on a lot of those problems.”

Not only is Chamberlain now problem-solving at JIB, but he is also a part of a larger ecosystem of life sciences institutions in the Greater Philadelphia region.

“When I moved out here, I was surprised by the number of really large pharmaceutical companies that are in this area. I had no idea,” said Chamberlain. “You’ve got Johnson & Johnson and Janssen right around the corner from us. GSK has a bunch of facilities near us, Merck as well. I actually had no idea that they were anywhere in this area, and I was really pleasantly surprised to find out.”

To explore career opportunities in cell and gene therapy in the Greater Philadelphia region and join Chamberlain and thousands of others in the mission to bring groundbreaking therapies to patients, visit Select Greater Philadelphia’s new job search tool here.

To hear other stories of cell and gene therapy talent throughout Greater Philadelphia, check out the rest of the videos in our “Discovery Starts with Me” series here.