Biotechnology / Entrepreneurs / Science

Power Moves: KOP’s Center for Breakthrough Medicines has 4 new VPs, and a former Pfizer leader joins Spark

Plus, Vertex has a new CTO, Penn State Abington has a new chancellor and more leadership changes in the Philadelphia region.

Clockwise from top left: Center for Breakthrough Medicines' Eileen Brett, Dana Cipriano, Sybil Danby and Emily Moran. (Courtesy photos; image via Canva)

Power Moves is a column where we chart the comings and goings of talent across the region. Got a new hire, new gig or promotion? Email us:

The Center for Breakthrough Medicines (CBM), a cell and gene therapy contract developer and manufacturer at King of Prussia’s Discovery Labs, said this week it had added four women to its leadership team. The appointments play a “critical role in bringing the facilities online to deliver real solutions to advanced therapy developers,” the org said in a statement.

Sybil Danby recently joined as SVP of business development and strategy after spending three years running the strategic business development of Baltimore’s Paragon Bioservices and playing an active role in its acquisition by Catalent Pharma Solutions for $1.2 billion in 2019.

“Advanced therapies are the future of medicine, but their development has been stalled by a lack of functional manufacturing solutions and capacity. Unfortunately, existing manufacturing technologies that do well for large molecule products do not always translate to cell and gene therapies,” Danby said. “The Center for Breakthrough Medicines is in a unique position, and we are working to fill those gaps for customers with the right technologies and the capacity to support their needs.”

Eileen Brett joins the CBM as its VP of project leadership, bringing two decades of end-to-end project management and leadership experience in biotherapeutics. She’s recently served as the head of the chemistry, manufacturing and controls leaders organization for Janssen’s Biotherapeutics Development with responsibility for delivering the portfolio of biotherapeutic assets from discovery to post-launch.

Newly appointed as the VP of testing and analytical services is Dana Cipriano, who will be creating a testing and analytical services portfolio that allows for efficient discovery, development, commercialization and manufacturing of cell and gene therapy products. She will be supplying end-to-end solutions for CBM clients and enabling their speed to market, the org said.

Lastly, Emily Moran joined the team as its VP of viral vector manufacturing. She was recently the head of viral vector manufacturing at Switzerland-based chemicals company Lonza. Moran also spent 12 years with Sanofi in applied operational and quality roles.


University City gene therapy company Spark Therapeutics recently announced that it had appointed long-time life sciences exec Cynthia Pussinen as its chief technical officer.

Cynthia Pussinen. (Courtesy photo)

NYC-based Pussinen has previously lead teams in manufacturing, quality, supply chain, formulation development and processes sciences at companies such as Honeywell International, Inc., Actinium Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Ipsen Biosciences.

Pussinen also spent more than 18 years at Pfizer in different roles including portfolio and project management, logistics and supply chain, pharmaceutical sciences, and as a scientist in its medicinal chemistry. As Spark’s CTO, she’ll oversee the company’s manufacturing and technical operations.

“We are excited to welcome Cynthia to Spark, as she brings both the expertise and leadership needed to be successful in this role,” Spark CEO Jeffrey Marrazzo said in a statement. “We are confident she will be an excellent addition to our management team as we prepare to bring forward the next generation of gene therapies to patients.”

Pussinen said she feels that gene therapies represent the present and future of medicine, and that it’s an “honor” to join Spark, which added about 250 hires in 2020, a company spokesperson said. The company now has about 600 employees. Spark’s $4.8 billion acquisition deal with Roche in 2019 ended up being the city’s largest-ever exit for a venture-backed company.

“I admire the Spark team’s passion for the important role they play in delivering innovative gene therapies to patients, and I look forward to joining the company and making an impact on those patients’ lives,” Pussinen said in a statement.


Tax technology and services platform Vertex, which is based in King of Prussia and has offices in South America and Europe, announced it had hired Sal Visca as its CTO this week.

Visca will lead the company’s tech strategy, software engineering and innovation as it accelerates growth. The company, which employs about 1,200 people across multiple continents, went public in July 2020. It is the maker of cloud-based and on-premise tax tools that can be customized by industry.

Visca brings 30 years of tech experience in transforming and operating large-scale cloud software businesses. He previously served as CTO at Elastic Path Software, Business Objects and Infowave Software, as well as serving as SVP and CTO of SAP’s Application and BI Platform Group.

“We set out to find an exceptional, purpose-driven leader — someone with that rare mix of interpersonal skills, technical savvy and an innovative spirit to run a leading-edge technology organization — we are fortunate to welcome Sal to Vertex,” CEO David DeStefano said in a statement.


Margo DelliCarpini was named the chancellor and dean of Penn State Abington in January.

Margo DelliCarpini. (Courtesy photo)

Before joining Penn State Abington, DelliCarpini served as vice provost for strategic educational partnerships and dean of the College of Education and Human Development at The University of Texas at San Antonio, and as professor and dean of the College of Education at Morehead State University in Kentucky.

Earlier in her career, she taught at Lehman College of the City University of New York, first as an assistant professor in 2005, as associate professor in 2010, and full professor in 2013. She served as the chair of the department of middle and high school education during the last three years as professor.

DelliCarpini was also the editor for an award-winning, 14-volume reference series, the “TESOL Encyclopedia of English” (Wiley, 2018).


The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia has awarded Penn Mutual CEO and chairperson Eileen C. McDonnell with the 2021 Paradigm Award. The Chamber described the award as “the region’s most prestigious award for businesswomen.” McDonnell has been in her role since 2013.

“Eileen is one of our region’s most influential figures and represents our community of outstanding business leaders,” said Chamber President and CEO Rob Wonderling. “She is a remarkable and inspirational leader with superb personal and professional skills. We are fortunate to have such an exceptional executive in our region.”


And this week, Philly Startup Leaders announced that it had named Isabelle Kent as its new executive director. She takes over the entrepreneurship-boosting nonprofit a few months after former ED Kiera Smalls left to run delivery startup Bloc Delivery.

Read our profile of Kent and read her letter to the startup community.

Isabelle Kent. (Photo via LinkedIn)

Companies: Center for Breakthrough Medicines / Vertex Inc / Spark Therapeutics / Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia / Penn State
Series: Power Moves

Before you go...

Please consider supporting to keep our independent journalism strong. Unlike most business-focused media outlets, we don’t have a paywall. Instead, we count on your personal and organizational support.

Our services Preferred partners The journalism fund

Join our growing Slack community

Join 5,000 tech professionals and entrepreneurs in our community Slack today!


Track power outages with ‘Is PECO Okay,’ a new site from the Philly dev behind ‘Is SEPTA F*cked’

Welcome to Camp Apple Intelligence

9 inclusivity recommendations for tech workplaces from Philadelphia youth

Find out what type of heat wave you’re really in for with NOAA’s HeatRisk dashboard

Technically Media