A collaboration in Greater Philadelphia’s life sciences ecosystem has created an award-winning workforce training model. The Biomedical Technician Training Program: Aseptic Manufacturing, envisioned by The Wistar Institute, West Philadelphia Skills Initiative, Iovance Biotherapeutics, PIDC, the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, and Philadelphia Works, and launched in August 2022, has been honored by BioBuzz Media with its Workforce Champion of the Year Award. 

The annual awards program celebrates the important contributions that people, companies, and communities across the Greater Philadelphia, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington D.C. areas are making to help build a stronger ecosystem, advance medical innovation, and impact human health, according to  Chris Frew, Founder and Chief Engagement Officer, BioBuzz Media. The Biomedical Technician Training Program was nominated for “the great work you are doing to create new opportunities for people to achieve rewarding careers in biotech,” Frew said.

BioBuzz announced its nominations for the Workforce Champion of the Year Award and five other categories in mid-November 2022. Two weeks of “People’s Choice” voting followed, and winners were announced on December 12. You can watch the region’s acceptance video here. A ceremony is planned for early 2023.

“We are absolutely delighted to be recognized by BioBuzz for the collaboration that led to this innovative training program,” said Sarah Steltz, Vice President, Economic Competitiveness for the Chamber. “The partners in this effort were focused on creating and launching a successful training program, but they also recognized that they were creating a national model that we can all learn from. The buzz this award will create will most certainly lead to more organizations utilizing this model to attract, train, and grow the biotech workforce, so this a win for our entire region.”

The new workforce development training initiative is one way the region is working together to meet the talent needs in its rapidly growing cell and gene therapy sector. The model’s goal is to connect biotech jobs with a broader range of Philadelphians, including residents from disadvantaged communities. In a field that requires PhDs or master’s degrees for most roles, the program creates opportunities for Philadelphians with at least a high school equivalency. 

The 22-week paid program, which includes class- and lab-based training provided by The Wistar Institute and professional development from University City District’s West Philadelphia Skills Initiative, culminates in a 10-week externship at Iovance Biotherapeutics, Inc., a late-stage biotechnology company developing novel T cell-based cancer immunotherapies, whose cell therapy manufacturing center is located at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Program participants are gaining the skills needed to be considered for employment as associate aseptic manufacturing technicians  at the conclusion of the program in March 2023. Associate aseptic manufacturing technicians are responsible for maintaining a sterile lab environment, assembling sterile products, stocking supplies, and documenting processes of biomedical manufacturers in supporting the creation of cell therapies.

“We hope to become an exemplar of how you can do workforce equitability, inclusively, collaboratively, in a way that helps Philadelphians connect to high-quality jobs and supports the cell and gene therapy industry,” said Cait Garozzo, Managing Director at the West Philadelphia Skills Initiative. 

Read more about the Biomedical Technician Training Program here.


“Discovery Starts with Me” Video Series Nominated for BioBuzz Media Award

BioBuzz also recognized the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia for its “Discovery Starts with Me” video series.  The monthly video series highlights talent living and working in Greater Philadelphia’s life sciences industry and was nominated in the Media Award category. “Discovery Starts with Me” offers viewers insight into opportunities in the region’s life sciences ecosystem and provides a look at the region’s quality of life. So far, 12 talent ambassadors have shared their stories.

Watch a short compilation video of our talent ambassadors below.

“We are thrilled to see that the ‘Discovery Starts with Me’ series has resonated with so many,” said Steltz. “This series aims to showcase how Greater Philadelphia is accessible, connected, and collaborative and how it enhances the quality of life and the professional outlook for talent who select the region as a place to start or continue their career. In the series, we’re all trying to provide a level of visibility into life sciences careers for those that are less familiar with those opportunities. We look forward to sharing more stories from our talented workforce.”

To watch our “Discovery Starts with Me” series, click here.

To nominate a talent ambassador to be featured in an upcoming “Discovery Starts with Me” video, please email Grace Hanlon at [email protected]