Tools and Resources for Addressing Evolving Challenges for Cell & Gene Therapy Biotechs
Debra BenAvram, CEO of AABB, explains some of the biggest challenges facing members of the biotherapies community, and how AABB is working to support biotechs through the provision of tools and resources, as well as how to find out more from the team at Advanced Therapies Week.
First of all, could you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about the Association for the Advancement of Blood & Biotherapies (AABB)?
I’m Debra BenAvram and I have been serving as AABB’s CEO since June 2018.
The Association for the Advancement of Blood & Biotherapies, known as AABB, is an international, not-for-profit organization representing individuals and institutions leading in the fields of transfusion medicine and biotherapies. The Association works collaboratively to advance the field through the development and delivery of standards, accreditation and education programs. AABB is dedicated to its mission of improving lives by making transfusion medicine and biotherapies safe, available and effective worldwide.
AABB celebrated our 75th anniversary in 2022 and we have a long history of providing products and services that help to advance the blood and biotherapies field. We are pleased to join other leaders in the biotherapies field at Advanced Therapies Week and look forward to collaborating with companies eager to advance their products and services in the market. AABB’s team of experts is available to support companies at every stage, from pre-clinical to commercial, by providing technical guidance, industry knowledge and networking opportunities.
Meet the team. Join us at Advanced Therapies Week 2023 >>
What are some of the challenges faced by members of the biotherapies field, and what is AABB doing to address these challenges?
Biotherapies companies face a myriad of challenges, at all stages of product development and market readiness. Every program AABB has developed is designed to ensure that companies reach their business objectives faster and at a lower cost. AABB has worked with our members and other biotherapies experts throughout the world on initiatives designed to advance the field of biotherapies, including standardizing critical systems, advocating for policies and developing quality systems. In addition, AABB accredits the most cord blood facilities in the world and our membership comprises the world’s largest network of cell collectors. This network is ideal to help biotech companies develop resources, information-sharing networks and tools to address some of the pressing issues they face.
One of the most significant challenges for companies is identifying geographically desirable suppliers with the right capabilities and qualifying them quickly. AABB developed a site finder to locate highly qualified facilities, where biotherapies companies need them. Not only that, AABB accredits every single one of these facilities, with recurring assessments every two years. AABB is now extending this work to our new Biotherapies Corporate Members through transparent reporting, which will help reduce the burden of supplier qualification.
Another constant issue is navigating the regulatory landscape. Biotech companies need trustworthy sources of regulatory information. AABB has more than 75 years of experience and close relationships with regulatory bodies, which we provide our Biotherapies Corporate Members through various means, including one-on-one consultation.
Finally, workforce readiness and capacity remains a critical issue. This is a battle for everyone these days. AABB has a deep shelf of education, global networking and tools to help sharpen and advance the workforce. Biotherapies Corporate Members benefit from access to an extensive library of expert-designed resources and full access to all of AABB materials, which is tremendous value.
All of these solutions are focused on increasing biotech companies’ speed to market, which will save time and money and help get high-quality products to market sooner and save more lives.
What challenges will AABB’s Biotherapies Corporate Membership address for members?
AABB’s new Biotherapies Corporate Membership was developed to be an essential resource for biotherapies companies looking to accelerate their speed to market. We have a deep bench of benefits and expert staff ready to assist companies at every stage of their growth.
From the very beginning of their membership, biotherapies companies will be provided with private onboarding and customized training with highly experienced consultants. The onboarding process is designed to ensure that AABB can better understand the unique needs and business objectives of each company.
From there, we work with each company and their staff on their needs, be it quality management system designs and implementation, regulatory questions and guidance, cell collection partnership and qualification, process improvement, and/or workforce training and development.
The membership package includes a retainer package with AABB’s world-renowned consulting service team, which will not only help each corporate member connect with off-the-shelf benefits, but will also allow for customized services to meet each company’s needs.
AABB’s Biotherapies Corporate Membership also helps to ensure that companies’ leadership is provided with the tools they need to run their business effectively. The membership includes access to all AABB content and communities for five individual members at each member organization. This includes an invitation to join subspecialty working groups, exclusive access to the Curated Biotherapies Library featuring in-depth biotherapies-related content, and free global job board postings.
AABB’s Biotherapies Corporate Members will have access to an exclusive resource library. What resources will be included in this library?
Biotherapies Corporate Members and their employees will have access to the curated biotherapies library, comprising exclusive products and resources that have been curated or created by experts, all with a specific focus on the benefit they offer to professionals in the biotherapies field.
The library includes expert-developed training programs with a biotherapies focus, including the popular Cellular Therapies Certificate Program, Flow Cytometry Course, and a new course, Foundations in Cell Therapy. Other highlights include quality management systems resources, such as AABB standards and accreditation tools, as well as key publications.
AABB is continuing to expand the resource library and will be developing and adding additional highly relevant content for members throughout 2023.
Biotherapy Corporate Members will also have access to join subspecialty working groups, which bring together leaders from throughout the world. These groups focus on specific issues or needs within the field and offer the opportunity for members to learn, share knowledge and best practices, and develop resources to advance the field.
What else do prospective Biotherapies Corporate Members need to know about AABB?
Regardless of where a biotech company is in terms of the stage of their development, we know that establishing and growing a brand is critical to meeting business objectives. AABB’s Biotherapies Corporate Members receive guidance and insight from a dedicated AABB account executive and widespread distribution of their profile through AABB channels, recognition as a AABB Foundation supporter, access to virtual expert speakers, and brand recognition on AABB’s education programs, including our eCasts, virtual Science and Innovation Forums and at the AABB Annual Meeting. Biotherapies Corporate Members also receive access to AABB’s leadership events at our Annual Meeting, hosted every year in October.
AABB has been a leader in the blood and biotherapies field for more than 75 years now. When companies partner with us, they benefit from AABB’s long history of advancing quality, safety and best practices in the field. Whether a company is in biotherapy start-up mode, at the commercial stage – or in between – AABB can help provide the tools needed for success.
AABB also recently launched the Certified Advanced Biotherapies Professional (CABP) credentialing program, the first and only certification for biotherapies professionals. How does the new CABP program address workforce challenges?
Yes, this is very exciting and will change the landscape of the biotherapies field! AABB launched the AABB Certified Advanced Biotherapies Professional (CABP) credentialing program, the first and only certification for biotherapies professionals, in the fall of 2022. It is available as an on-line exam for qualified candidates, including physicians, researchers, nurses, pharmacists, laboratorians, and quality and regulatory experts.
This certification benefits the entire biotherapies field by establishing minimum standards of competence, identifying qualified and proficient professionals, and advancing safety and quality. It provides an opportunity to recognize high-performing professionals among peers, patients, health care organizations and more. We also expect that biotherapies companies will find it easier to identify qualified candidates as they grow their talent pool by looking for professionals with the post-nominals of CABP.
How can companies find out more about these programs?
AABB representatives will be attending Advanced Therapies Week and look forward to meeting with biotech companies seeking to advance their business.
Visit aabb.org/BioBooth and partner with us to schedule a meeting with AABB and to view more information on our biotherapies offerings.
For more information about AABB, visit aabb.org.
You can find the Association for the Advancement of Blood and Biotherapies on the Advanced Therapies Week Partnering App. If you don’t have your ticket yet, there are still some left! Join us there >>
This interview has been produced in partnership with AABB ahead of Advanced Therapies Week 2023.