AABB Creates First and Only Certification for Biotherapies Professionals

This article is sponsored by AABB.

The Association for the Advancement of Blood & Biotherapies (AABB) has set the stage for the future of biotherapy industry training.

In August, Bethesda-based AABB, a not-for-profit association, introduced the AABB Certified Advanced Biotherapies Professional (CABP) credentialing program. This is the first and only certification for biotherapies professionals, the organization announced when the program was launched. The CABP credentialing program creates minimum standards of competence and identifies qualified and proficient professionals.  Since the formation of AABB 75 years ago, the association has developed standards and an accreditation program designed to advance the highest levels of safety and quality.

The rapidly expanding biotherapies community is driving the discovery, development and delivery of innovative treatments with promising outcomes for patients. Further, the increasing use of biosimilar drugs is driving explosive growth in the biotherapeutics market. By 2026 the biotherapeutics market is expected to grow by $226 billion. As the market grows, the CABP is expected to play an increasingly important role as companies and organizations continue to scale to meet demand.

Dr. Jennifer L. Chain, Director of Research and Development at the Oklahoma Blood Institute, explained that “biotherapies is a relatively new field compared to other specialties of medicine and biological sciences. As the field is expanding, it is more important than ever to identify professionals who have gained expertise in the development, testing, administration, and regulation of biotherapies,” Chain said. The CABP exam offered by AABB is an excellent way to test the knowledge of seasoned professionals working in the field of biotherapies and certify them as experts.

“Training new biotherapy professionals can be challenging due to lack of specific training and certification programs. The CABP exam criteria help to focus and prepare staff at all levels for the diverse expertise required for the successful development, manufacture, and administration of biotherapy drugs,” Chain said.

Dr. Suzie Thibodeaux, Medical and Laboratory Director for the Cellular Therapy Laboratory at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology & Immunology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO, is very enthusiastic about reaching a large number of potential biotherapy experts who might not have otherwise had the opportunity to formally seek educational opportunities.

“Offering this opportunity to become certified as a biotherapy professional to a wide range of interested and motivated individuals will help the field thrive over time as it continues to expand its breadth and depth with respect to treating diseases and improving patient care,” Thibodeaux said.

AABB’s mission is to improve therapeutic outcomes and the lives of patients by making transfusion medicine and biotherapies safe, available, and effective. When the certification program was announced in August, Debra BenAvram, Chief Executive Officer of AABB, said the CABP will benefit the field by establishing minimum standards of competence. The certification will do so by “establishing, identifying qualified and proficient professionals, and advancing knowledge, safety and quality,” she said.

“Certifying provides an opportunity for high-performing biotherapies professionals to demonstrate their commitment and competence, distinguish themselves from their peers, and position themselves for career advancement,” BenAvram said in a statement.

The certification is open to all professionals in the advanced biotherapies field, including fellows, laboratorians, physicians, nurses, pharmacists, quality and regulatory specialists, and researchers.

To receive the CABP certification, candidates must pass an examination designed to demonstrate the necessary knowledge to operate in the biotherapies field. The examination covers multiple topics that are intertwined in the field of biotherapies. Topics on the examination include Biotherapies in the Patient Care Ecosystem, Biotherapies Science and Ethics, Operations and Equipment, Biotherapies Development Lifecycle, Manufacturing, Quality Systems, and The Regulatory Environment.

Candidates must meet pre-requisites, obtain a passing grade on the exam and agree to abide by a code of conduct. From there, the certification will last for three years.

After the initial certification, CABP credential holders are required to complete at least 36 credit hours of education in the exam domains to renew the certification. Once the end of the three-year certification period nears, AABB recommends certificants should apply for recertification at least one month before their certification expires.

Applications are being accepted for the initial testing window that runs through Nov. 10.  All candidates are encouraged to submit their application by early November to allow for application processing time. The certification exam fee is $395 for AABB members and $495 for nonmembers. The price includes a $150 nonrefundable application review fee, which AABB will waive for the first 200 applicants. Candidates who take the exam in this initial cohort will be provided with a pass/fail report by Dec. 13. If a candidate does not pass on the first attempt, the report will highlight how they performed in each of the exam’s domains, which can serve as a study roadmap, and they will also be able to retake the exam at no additional charge during a future examination window.

The certification could become an essential designation when assessing hiring needs. The credential will allow potential employers to identify highly qualified and skilled candidates who will be able to handle the rigors of the job. Internally, the certification will enable staff to assume new leadership roles within an organization as well. Since its inception, AABB standards and accreditation have been a hallmark of excellence in health care. Although AABB’s history is rooted in transfusion medicine, AABB’s work first expanded to cellular therapies with standards in 1991 and today continues to extend into related areas, including biotherapies.

“The CABP credential has the potential to boost the employment opportunities of those holding it, as it will set those individuals apart as professionals with the proper training and expertise in the field of biotherapies, who can contribute the most to the successful development of treatments,” Chain said.