Public Policy Study Examines Cell Therapy Workforce Needs

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Cell and gene therapies are on the rise as new methods and technologies gain approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. As these fields grow, so do their workforce demands. In a new paper published in Nature Biotechnology, researchers in the Georgia Tech School of Public Policy examined these needs by using the chimeric antigen receptor, or CAR T-cell therapy industry as an example.

Linda Ho, then a M.S. in Public Policy student in the School, was lead author on the paper. Hadassah Robbins, a Master of Sustainable Energy and Environmental Management student at the time, and Associate Professor Aaron Levine, served as co-authors. Levine is also the co-director for engineering workforce development of the NSF Engineering Research Center for Cell Manufacturing Technologies, or CMaT.

 “Cell therapy is changing the lives of patients today, but the ability of this novel technology to reach its potential depends on the existence of an appropriately trained workforce,” Levine said. “This study highlights key skills necessary for this workforce and should help industry stakeholders, including CMaT, develop training programs to help meet this need.”

The authors gathered 326 job advertisements from the websites of three companies that develop CAR T therapy products, then analyzed each entry to glean insight into the skills and education levels needed to work in the fast-growing field.

They found that 71% of job postings required a bachelor’s degree, while 14% called for doctoral-level training, and 8% specified less than a bachelor’s degree. They also found that people with little to no direct industry experience could fill manufacturing technician and associate roles. They concluded, however, that manufacturing associate candidates would benefit from having prior experience and additional knowledge of the regulatory environment.

“Meeting the demand for new employees in the growing cell and gene therapy industry and, especially, for manufacturing these labor-intensive therapies, will require a substantial effort engaging technical colleges, four-year universities, and scientific and industry groups,” the authors wrote.

The paper, “Assessing Workforce Needs for the Emerging CAR T-Cell Therapy Industry,” is available at


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