There are many factors to consider when deciding on a location to live and work – cost of living, quality of life, and access to opportunity are just a few.

Rankings, statistics, and reports on leading economic indicators point to the Greater Philadelphia region as meeting the criteria as a top-tier, globally-connected, and collaborative place to do business, especially for individuals with life sciences careers.

But beyond comprehensive data, there’s value in hearing corroborative experiences from Greater Philadelphians who are living, working, and thriving in the region’s life sciences sector.

In our latest “Discovery Starts with Me” video series, we feature four Greater Philadelphia residents who have taken advantage of the region’s burgeoning life sciences ecosystem at Chamber member companies. They are Keith Runes, Senior Research Associate at WuXi Advanced Therapies; Morrison Boateng, Jr. M.S., Pharmaceutical Application Scientist at Roquette; Haichen Yang, M.D., M.A., M.B.A., Vice President of Clinical Research at Amicus Therapeutics; and Iyana Pearson, Associate Aseptic Technician at Iovance Biotherapeutics.

As their collective stories portray, the Greater Philadelphia life sciences industry’s talent benefits from the region’s standing as a global life sciences hub. This creates accessibility to an abundance of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies and decades of groundbreaking research. Greater Philadelphia residents also enjoy the region’s world-class dining scene, breadth of arts and culture experiences, and big-time sporting events.

For Runes, the presence of global pharmaceutical companies combined with the region’s concentration of cell and gene therapy companies made Greater Philadelphia the easy choice.

“I was surprised to see that there were so many big pharmaceutical companies in the area,” said Runes. “And not only is there a presence of large companies, but what made me really fall in love with the region was the number of companies in Philadelphia that are specialized in very niche areas, making therapies that are very specific for patients with rare diseases. This is what especially drew me to WuXi Advanced Therapies as well.”

The region’s high concentration of life sciences companies not only provides talent with great job opportunities but also the path to settle in Greater Philadelphia for a fulfilling career. 

“I was looking at places that had a lot of pharmaceutical companies, like in New Jersey, but I wanted to expand my reach a little further from New York,” said Boateng. “I was glad to find out that Greater Philadelphia has a large number of pharma companies, and I even work in Spring House Innovation Park, where companies like Roquette, Merck, and Thomas Jefferson University’s Institute for Bioprocessing are all right next to each other.”

Yang settled in Greater Philadelphia six years ago after working in a variety of other cities, such as Indianapolis, Indiana; Atlanta, Georgia; and Basking Ridge, New Jersey.

“Working in such a vibrant hub for biotech and pharma has been very rewarding,” said Dr. Yang. “I love the biotech ecosystem here. We have talent and groundbreaking research coming out of premium academic institutions, many global pharmaceutical companies, and new innovative startups are blooming.” 

Greater Philadelphia’s life sciences ecosystem also provides for cross-institutional and company collaboration and the ability to connect with others with similar values and passions.

“The nature of the work we do is very collaborative because we work with clients,” said Runes. “We work with other companies to get their drugs developed. Even when I’m waiting in line for lunch at a food truck on campus, I’m surrounded by like-minded people who are all working to better the lives of patients, no matter what company they work at. There’s no competitive sense or anything; everyone has respect for each other and the work that we’re doing. It’s a really unique opportunity that I’m glad to experience every day.”

Lifelong Philadelphian Iyana Pearson had always worked in healthcare but realized her passion for the pharmaceutical side of medicine through the Biomedical Technician Training Program: Aseptic Manufacturing, a program from The Wistar Institute, the West Philadelphia Skills Initiative, and Iovance Biotherapeutics, with support from the Chamber, Philadelphia Works, and PIDC. 

“There are so many reasons why I love my hometown, Philly, and now our strong life sciences sector has become one of them,” said Pearson.

To learn more about how your organization can participate in our “Discovery Starts with Me” series, please contact Elisa Procida, Regional Marketing Manager, the Chamber, at [email protected].