News Hub

Navigating the Cell and Gene Therapy Workforce Landscape: Mapping the Present and Preparing for the Future


Pedro Silva Couto, 
University College London
United Kingdom 

Theodros Mamo, 
University of Minnesota, 
Minneapolis, USA 

The cell and gene therapy (CGT) field has seen significant transformation from its inception. The therapeutic modalities in the CGT space have now become increasingly complex. There was a shift from cell-based therapies to ex vivo gene therapies, with the CAR-T becoming a reality for hematological malignancies. More recently, in vivo, gene therapy products based on Adeno-associated viruses (AAV) have seen their first approvals worldwide.  As cell and gene therapy products have become more complex over the years, moving from cells to gene-edited cells to nucleic acids, so did manufacturing. A transition from monolayer-based cultures to semi-automated and all-in-one expansion platforms has reinforced the need to train existing staff working in this space. The increasing complexity of product development and manufacturing in the advanced therapy space has led to a search for professionals equipped with the desired skills. Many of these professionals moved from the biologics or monoclonal antibody fields, which are significantly more established than the CGT sector.

The ISCT ESP committee has been running workforce surveys over the past years to understand the training and career development of the CGT sector. The results of the previous surveys were published as Telegraft articles in 2019 and 2020. A third edition of the survey was run in 2021; however, reporting the results of this survey and running the survey in 2022 were delayed due to the unprecedented effects of the pandemic. The current group of ISCT ESP committee members are excited to resume the analysis of previous surveys and run the survey in 2023 to provide critical data on the recent trends of the CGT sector.  

Previous editions have generated insightful information on the profile of the survey responders regarding the type of roles they occupy and their educational background. Questions regarding what type of skills the responders have, as well as how long they have been in the workforce, were also included in the survey. One of the main trends we have seen in both previous editions was that most respondents occupying director-level positions or equivalent had a PhD. This highlighted the importance of this type of degree to reach high-level management positions within the sector. However, this was not the case for manufacturing related where most of the respondents had a Master’s or Undergraduate degree. This indicates that not having a PhD does not prevent one from joining the CGT workforce. Another key trend that emerged from the previous editions of the survey was related to the way conducive training is delivered. Most of the participants revealed that they prefer interactive learning settings. These trends and others have provided compelling evidence that suggests the need for new formats and opportunities for educational programs potentially delivered by ISCT. 

Understanding what the workforce looks like today is not only important for gaining insights into the current state of the CGT field but also for shaping the future of this rapidly evolving industry. By comprehending the existing workforce landscape, relevant stakeholders can identify the gaps and areas that need improvement and develop strategies to address them effectively. To ensure the sustainability and growth of the field, it is crucial to nurture and cultivate the next generation of professionals.

In this new edition of the survey, there is a need to reach out to more individuals working in this space so that a clear picture of the workforce can be painted. Although the previous editions of the survey provided useful information, most of the responders were from North America. This time, there will be a special emphasis on reported current trends of the workforce in other parts of the world to demonstrate the truly global identity of ISCT. By comprehending the global workforce landscape, relevant stakeholders can identify the gaps and areas that need improvement and develop strategies to address them effectively. 

The current ISCT ESP committee is preparing to launch the 2023 survey with plans to report the results along with the trends in comparison to previous surveys, including the 2021 survey. This year’s survey could be critical as it may show the effects of the pandemic on the CGT sector. 

To deliver on the crucial task of reporting the current characteristics of the CGT workforce, we need your active participation. As dedicated members of the ISCT and loyal readers of the Telegraft, your insights and contributions are invaluable in shaping the future of our field. We will be reaching out to you to request your input. We also urge you to extend this call to action to your peers and colleagues in the community. Encourage them to participate and share their perspectives. By amplifying our efforts and engaging a diverse range of professionals, we can create a collective voice that truly reflects the diversity within our workforce. With your active involvement, we can continue to serve our members and advance ISCT's vision of improving lives through safe and effective cell and gene therapies. Join us in this call to action, and let's pave the way for a thriving and sustainable future for the workforce of our field.

The survey will be released to all ISCT members shortly.

#Regional and Partner Updates