Among the members of the Life Science Talent Pipeline Collaborative, an initiative of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia to support workforce growth in the region’s life sciences sector, is the Center for Breakthrough Medicines, an innovative cell and gene therapy-focused contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO)  located at The Discovery Labs in King of Prussia, PA.

We recently spoke with Audrey Greenberg, co-founder and chief business officer at the Center for Breakthrough Medicines, to learn how her participation in the Collaborative is supporting her organization’s mission of saving lives by refining and accelerating the development and manufacturing of advanced therapies.

“We are hiring at every level of the organization,” Greenberg said. The Center for Breakthrough Medicines, which currently employs 80+ people, plans to onboard 50-100 more hires by the end of 2021, and then 500 new staff members each year for the subsequent four years, growing the company to 2,000 employees by 2024 at the King of Prussia site.  “The advanced therapy revolution will require an ever-increasing number of trained professionals. We participate in programs to retrain displaced workers for the industry, and we promote in schools the life science industry as a great career path here in Philadelphia,” she added.

“We’re a start-up and we’re growing from the ground up,” she explained. “We are hiring in our home office and in our headquarters, but most of our recruits will work in the labs and the GMP suites.”

Team members will aid the Center for Breakthrough Medicines in delivering high quality and reliable process and analytical development, viral vector manufacturing, testing, cell therapy bioprocessing, plasmid production, and cell banking services for a full product’s life cycle. 

The job opportunities vary from senior management to process development scientists, viral vector manufacturing operators (including both AAV and lentiviral vectors), cell processing technicians, testing laboratory specialists, analytical method scientists, quality control, quality assurance, warehouse, supply chain, and support staff. Add to that accounting, finance, IT and HR.

“We’re building a number one cell and gene therapy CDMO in King of Prussia, taking over 700,000 square feet at Discovery Labs, and we’re really creating an ecosystem that will streamline the path to approval for curative therapies,” Greenberg said. “Because our facility will house an end-to-end solution including process development, viral vector manufacturing, cell processing, plasmid production, and testing and analytics, as well as offer the ability to license proprietary manufacturing technology, we expect to cut down the time to BLA and IND by over 50%, and that is tremendous for the patient.”

“Cutting down that timeline means saving patients’ lives and impacting families substantially,” she added.

Greenberg noted there are career opportunities for high school graduates through the PhD level. They are also out in the market at industry events and conferences, and job fairs hosted by academic institutions, universities and industry organizations. 

Referrals are another strong source of talent. “Talent attracts talent, and we have onboarded an incredible team,” Greenberg said. “We have such great networks we’ve been able to do that.”

What Philadelphia offers to candidates is the chance to be part of a life sciences cluster, she noted, with options for collaboration and communication.

“Philadelphia is a really a special place because, relative to the other life sciences clusters, particularly the coastal ones, we have a relatively low cost of living, amazing public and private schools, a surplus of recreational, cultural, and dining options, and access to the beach and the mountains within an hour and a half.”

In addition to lifestyle attributes, Greenberg noted infrastructure and ecosystem benefits that attract companies to the region, including “our amazing startup environment, transportation networks, the infrastructure in terms of cold chain, and our proximity to an international airport,” she said.

“We selected this location in Philadelphia because of the highly trained workforce and its proximity to incredible research and academic institutions, medical institutions, and hospital systems, as well as other CGT companies that need our services,” she said. “And what we love about this region, it really fosters innovation. This innovative ecosystem, with collaboration, to really take everything to the next level, so that we can support homegrown success stories and get patients cures faster in a quality manner, and really create an economic engine for Philadelphia to make us the number one bio innovation hub in the world.”

Visit the Center for Breakthrough Medicines at Discovery Labs to learn more and watch Audrey Greenberg’s “Discovery Starts with Me” video here.

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 Economic Competitiveness and Talent Initiatives 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 Medicines; 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.