By Anna Rose Welch, Director, Cell & Gene Collaborative
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Welcome to the Life Science Collaborative blog! In the past few months, I’ve had the pleasure of connecting and speaking with many of you about the challenges you’re facing in establishing the manufacturing and outsourcing strategies for your cell and gene therapies.
This blog will be the first — but certainly not the only — effort I undertake to showcase and provide context around the most intriguing C&G manufacturing-and outsourcing-centric information the industry and the Internet have to offer. There’s an overwhelming abundance of information out there. Let me do the hard work of deciding which resources are worth your time and attention and explain the how and why they deserve your eyes every week.
To get started, I thought it would be good to introduce myself since I plan to make myself at home in this space and, hopefully, get to know many of you moving forward. Enjoy this Q&A that I had an embarrassingly large amount of fun carrying out with myself.
Who are you?
I joined the Life Science Connect media group in 2014 and, over the last five years, I became a full-blown biosimilars nerd while serving as the Chief Editor of Biosimilar Development. (My professional bio is here.) I’m now leaping headfirst into the cell and gene manufacturing space as the director of the brand-new Life Science Collaborative platform.
Though my professional life has been in the biologics space, I’m unabashedly right-brained.
I earned my Master of Fine Arts in poetry, published my first book in 2018, and am painstakingly working on a second manuscript. I’m a violinist that previously moonlighted in the (now defunct 😢) Erie Chamber Orchestra and still occasionally performs with the Erie Philharmonic. Three years ago, I started taking adult beginner ballet classes and realized just how much I love simultaneously strengthening and artfully destroying each one of my incredibly inflexible muscles.
Where in the world are you?
I live and work in Erie, PA — though any chance I get to travel internationally, I’m out. My favorite countries so far are Portugal and Brazil (which is quite fortuitous as I’m learning Brazilian Portuguese in my free time).
What do you like most about the cell and gene therapy space?
Not only do I love being challenged by the science as a right-brained poet, but I also appreciate that you and your manufacturing teammates are currently blazing your own path forward with your scientific and manufacturing strategies. Though there have been some early trail blazers helping ease the learning curve to some extent, many of you have talked at length about how your programs are still quite unique and, as such, require great adaptability, flexibility, and collaboration. As a writer and avid learner regularly facing a daunting “blank page,” I feel great kinship with the work you’re doing to learn about, establish, and fine-tune your manufacturing processes from the ground up.
If you were Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music, what would you include in the song “These Are a Few of My Favorite Things”?
In no particular order and without any pesky rhyming:
- Cats (real ones and unusual ceramic tchotchkes)
- All types of exercise, particularly HIIT, yoga, ballet, and hiking
- Cooking (the NYT cooking app is everything);
- My parents and my partner, John;
- Reading, writing, and researching quirky things (like this);
- Bookstores, art museums, libraries, and coffee shops;
- Travel (The South American countries — aside from Brazil — are high on my bucket list)
- Everything food-related, though my Achilles heel(s) include cake, sprinkle donuts, and salt & vinegar and dill pickle popcorn. (This place delivers, btw).