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Penn’s Gene Therapy Program is expanding to KOP’s Discovery Labs

Plus, check out which companies and local leaders won the 2021 Life Sciences PA Awards.

The Discovery Labs facility rendering. (Courtesy image)

Illustrating the Philadelphia region’s prowess in the rapidly expanding life sciences space, a local research hub is adding more capacity via another local research hub.

University of Pennsylvania’s Gene Therapy Program, an R&D org developing and commercializing gene-based therapeutics, is expanding to King of Prussia-based Discovery Labs.

The lease includes 150,000 square feet of lab space across two buildings in Discovery Labs’ campus. Penn’s gene therapy program will join the ranks of an “anchor tenant” along with existing tenants GSK, WuXi Biologics and The Center for Breakthrough Medicines on the biotech innovation campus.

The new space will expand the program’s available space for vector operations, including two floors for the Penn Vector Core. The new facilities will also support “discovery research through submission of investigational new drug applications for clinical trials,” as well as nonclinical proof-of-concept research, manufacturing for preclinical projects, quality control testing, technical transfer and more.

The gene therapy program is lead by Director James Wilson, a professor of medicine and pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine. Wilson and his team have helped “establish Philadelphia as a leader in gene therapies,” said Brian O’Neill, the founder and chairman of Discovery Labs, in a statement.

“The past few years have been a pivotal time in the development of gene therapies, and our new space at Discovery Labs will propel us even further in charting the future of the field,” Wilson said. “With additional state-of-the-art equipment and increased operational capabilities, we are well-positioned to enhance the design and execution of our innovative, transformative therapies.”

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In other local science news: The 2021 Life Sciences PA Awards were held last week, and a handful of local companies and leaders took home awards recognizing their contributions to the industry within the last year. The awards were celebrated at an outdoor “open-air” tailgate in the Discovery Labs parking lot.

  • Federal Official of the Year — U.S. Sen. Bob Casey
  • State Official of the Year — State Sen. John DiSanto
  • Emerging Company of the Year — Ambler-based biotech company AnPac Bio-Medical Science Co
  • 2020 Deal of the Year — University City-based clinical stage genetic medicines company Passage Bio
  • Scientific Achievement — Deborah L. Birx, for her work as the White House coronavirus response coordinator
  • Patient Impact — Pfizer
  • John Nash MedTech Leadership Award —Bruce Shook, chairman of the BOD at Venarum Medical
  • Frank Baldino CEO of the Year — Maureen Mulvihill of Actuated Medical
  • Hubert J.P. Schoemaker Leadership Award — Kenneth Frazier of Merck
Companies: Center for Breakthrough Medicines / Discovery Labs / Merck / University of Pennsylvania
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