BioBuzz by Workforce Genetics

Five Organizations Partner to Design New Biotech Training Program to Connect Philadelphians With Quality Jobs in the Region’s Rapidly Growing Life Sciences Sector

The Wistar Institute, West Philadelphia Skills Initiative, Iovance Biotherapeutics, PIDC, and The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia Launch Recruitment for the Pilot Program on August 23


Link here for the full release, including information on how to apply for the program.

Applications are open until September 9, 2022.

PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 23, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Partners in Greater Philadelphia’s life sciences ecosystem are collaborating to create a new workforce development training model to connect biotech jobs with a wider range of Philadelphians, including residents from disadvantaged communities. In a field that often requires PhDs or master’s degrees for most roles, the program – “Biomedical Technician Training Program: Aseptic Manufacturing” – will create opportunities for Philadelphians with at least a high school equivalency. The initiative is one way the region is working together to meet the talent needs in its rapidly growing cell and gene therapy sector.

Recruitment begins August 23 for the 22-week paid program, which will include class- and lab-based training provided by The Wistar Institute and professional development from University City District’s West Philadelphia Skills Initiative, culminating 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 will gain the skills needed to be considered for employment as associate aseptic manufacturing technicians – jobs starting at $23/hour – 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. 

The foundations of this model are familiar to The Wistar Institute, which has been successfully operating its Biomedical Technician Training (BTT) Program for over 20 years. “This expansion of our proven program is perfectly aligned with one of the pillars of our strategic plan, BOLD Science // GLOBAL Impact (https://boldscience.wistar.org), to create a diverse, inclusive life science talent pipeline. Wistar’s collaborations with public and private partners create a new paradigm for workforce development to support the continued growth of the Philadelphia life sciences industry,” said Dr. Dario Altieri, president and CEO of The Wistar Institute. 

For the West Philadelphia Skills Initiative, which has extensive experience developing training programs with healthcare organizations, the entry into life sciences is an exciting evolution. “What we’re hoping to do is to become an exemplar of how you can do workforce equitably, 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.

“Iovance is proud to be a part of the vibrant, diverse Greater Philadelphia community and rapidly growing cell therapy hub. We are committed to promoting inclusivity, equity and diversity at Iovance and within the life sciences industry. We are excited to help introduce a wider range of Philadelphians to career options in biotech and hope this new program can serve as a model to our industry peers to increase inclusivity in the biotech workforce and its career development opportunities,” said Tracy Winton, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, Iovance Biotherapeutics, Inc.