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BioBuzz Workforce Champion Award goes to Wistar’s New Biomedical Technician Training Program for Adults

PHILADELPHIA — (DECEMBER 14, 2022) — The Wistar Institute Biomedical Technician Training (BTT) Program was awarded Workforce Champion of the Year in the 3rd Annual 2022 BioBuzz Awards. The program is a collaborative that includes The Wistar Institute, West Philadelphia Skills Initiative, Iovance Biotherapeutics, PIDC, and others. The award, based on votes from individuals throughout the community, celebrates the outstanding life science institutes, companies, and people that make up the Philadelphia and BioHealth Capital Regions. The program, modeled on Wistar’s successful BTT Program for community college students, focuses on an underserved adult population – adults with a GED or high school diploma.

“This Program was conceived of—by Philadelphians—and for Philadelphians,” said Kristy Shuda McGuire, Ph.D., Wistar dean of biomedical studies. “What better way to support our growing workforce than with Philadelphia residents trained in sought after, specialized skills. The newest iteration of our BTT Program is focused on meeting demands of local biotechnology companies for a diverse and skilled workforce.”

The more than 400 applicants support the fact that there is a strong interest among Philly’s adult population to explore this career opportunity. From that applicant pool, 18 participants were chosen and are currently learning in Wistar’s Training Lab. West Philadelphia Skills Initiative led recruitment, selection, and professional development programming.

“The development of this unique program required thoughtful collaboration from key partners ranging from University City, to Philadelphia Works, to the Navy Yard, and more,” said Cait Garozzo, executive director of the West Philadelphia Skills Initiative. “We are tremendously pleased for the recognition from BioBuzz for what we feel is a truly innovative workforce program.”

Funding was provided by Philadelphia Works, grants from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry PAsmart program, GSK, and Justamere Foundation. BTT Program graduates who successfully complete the training qualify for technician positions at Iovance Biotherapeutics. The Program prepares participants for skilled positions that involve maintaining sterile labs, assembling sterile products, stocking supplies, and documenting processes of biomedical manufacturing – a rapidly growing area in Philadelphia.

“Iovance is excited to help introduce a wider, diverse range of Philadelphians to new technical skills and career options in biotech manufacturing,” said Jamie Crawford, vice president of Iovance Cell Therapy Center (iCTC) Manufacturing at Iovance Biotherapeutics. “We hope this new program can serve as a model of inclusivity within the biotech workforce, to fill the growing demand for technicians in the region.”

“This award truly reflects how meaningful, strategic partnerships can support positive change and provide quality opportunities to individuals and communities that previously lacked access,” said Kate McNamara, PIDC’s senior vice president, Navy Yard. “It’s very exciting that the Navy Yard and PIDC are involved in this partnership and are part of workforce solutions for a rapidly growing industry.”


The Wistar Institute, the first independent nonprofit biomedical research institute in the United States, marshals the talents of an international team of outstanding scientists through a highly enabled culture of biomedical collaboration and innovation, to solve some of the world’s most challenging and important problems in the field of cancer, immunology, and infectious diseases, and produce groundbreaking advances in world health. Consistent with a pioneering legacy of leadership in not-for-profit biomedical research and a track record of life-saving contributions in immunology and cell biology, Wistar scientists pursue novel and courageous research paths to life science discovery, and to accelerate the impact of early-stage discoveries by shortening the path from bench to bedside.

The West Philadelphia Skills Initiative (WPSI) is one of the nation’s most successful workforce development organizations. For 10 years, WPSI has solidified its role as one of the highest performing workforce intermediaries in the country by building customized talent solutions that bridge the divide between unemployed Philadelphians seeking opportunity and employers seeking talent. WPSI focuses on professional development and career coaching for adults.

Iovance Biotherapeutics (NASDAQ: IOVA) aims to be the global leader in innovating, developing and delivering tumor infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) therapies for patients with cancer. We are pioneering a transformational approach to cure cancer by harnessing the human immune system’s ability to recognize and destroy diverse cancer cells in each patient. Located in Philadelphia, PA, our Iovance Cell Therapy Center (iCTC) is the first centralized and scalable manufacturing facility dedicated to producing TIL therapies for patients with solid tumors. Our lead late-stage TIL product candidate, lifileucel for metastatic melanoma, has the potential to become the first approved one-time cell therapy for a solid tumor cancer. For more information, please visit

PIDC is Philadelphia’s public-private economic development corporation. Since acquiring the 1,200-acre site from the federal government in 2000, PIDC has been the master developer and site operator of the Navy Yard. PIDC’s mission—to spur investment, support business growth, and facilitate developments that create jobs, revitalize neighborhoods, and drive growth to every corner of Philadelphia—strongly informs its strategy for the Navy Yard, where the focus is on building a cohesive community that fosters employment, innovation, and production. PIDC manages all aspects of the property’s management and development, including master planning, leasing, property management, infrastructure development, utility operation, and structuring development transactions.

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