FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies: There’s a New Cell Therapy Employer in Thousand Oaks

Thousand Oaks Site_Fujifilm Diosynth

Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies' Thousand Oaks, California site/courtesy Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies 

FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies (FDB) has a message for the biotech talent of Thousand Oaks, California: There’s a new employer in town and it’s offering unique opportunities to join one of the top global CDMOs in the biopharmaceutical industry, focused on solving some of the most complex healthcare challenges.

In January, the company announced a big investment with the acquisition of cell therapy manufacturing facility Atara Biotherapeutics for $100 million in addition to entering a long-term partnership agreement. In April, FDB opened the doors to celebrate the transition of 134 employees and welcome them to the Fujifilm family. This includes David Bolish, site head, who spoke with BioSpace about the company’s aspirations.

“As a world-leading contract development and manufacturing organization, FDB was looking to expand its global network to meet the evolving needs of its clients across the full range of manufacturing modalities and scales,” Bolish said. “Our 90,000 square foot site is readily expandable to add capacity and has the flexibility to produce both clinical and commercial cell therapies including allogeneic T-cell and CAR T immunotherapies.” The site will also enable FDB to bring in new clients in the future.

A Culture of Quality and Growth

The celebration was emblematic of the entire transition process. Lisa Leslie, senior director, quality assurance and regulatory affairs, who also joined from Atara, told BioSpace she has been “very impressed” with FDB’s quality culture.

“FDB is committed to the highest levels of quality standards and operational excellence,” she said. “Our clients trust us to have a high level of quality and the regulators demand that there's a high level of quality. Building on this foundation of transparency and trust, we proactively embed quality and cGMP compliance in everything that we do, even in the smallest actions we take each day.”

Having successfully completed a GMP inspection by the European Medicines Agency this year, the company is looking to significantly ramp up its operations. The site is currently operating with a staff of close to 150 and expects to add more than 40 team members over the next 12 months in manufacturing, quality assurance, quality control, IT and engineering, according to Sandy Ayers, head of people and culture.

Many of the positions are open already.

“Talented and passionate people have made FDB stand out in the industry and continue to help us excel in everything we do,” Ayers said. “We are a team committed to forward-thinking, being ahead of the curve and trusted to deliver. We are ‘Partners for Life’.” 

FDB is Looking for Passionate Leaders

“We're seeking people who are looking to discover and build their careers in a global company with major locations not only in the United States but also in Europe; people who are excited about the opportunity to work with innovative therapies alongside the world’s most dedicated scientists, engineers and specialists,” Bolish said. 

It is also a great place for seasoned industry experts, according to Steven Tan, head of supply chain.

“The depth of experience within FDB, from the quality organization, manufacturing, supply manufacturing, supply chain and our technical engineers is extremely impressive,” he shared. And for those just breaking into the industry, “there's a lot of opportunity to learn and be among top-notch industry professionals.”    

“FDB takes pride in offering a healthy work environment with a good work/life balance that promotes individual responsibility and allows people to grow and progress,” Ayers added. “We value our employees, nurture personal development, recognize and reward outstanding performance. With our global growing network, there are many opportunities open for our employees to explore.”

United by Genki / The Place of Genki (Values)

“At FDB, we have what we call Genki: passion, drive and enthusiasm that fuels everything we do,” Bolish said. “It's a privilege and an honor to work in this industry, helping to develop and deliver products for patients who need them. We're solving important problems on a day-to-day basis and making a difference. There's really no reason for every day not to be an exciting day.” 

Leslie shared that she appreciates the opportunity to contribute to novel therapeutics.

“A lot of us started out in traditional biopharmaceuticals, and this is the next stage of that,” she said. “This work is not just prolonging life; it’s contributing to making cures for people who previously did not have a treatment option available to them.” 

The supply chain function also plays a critical role in helping patients to maximize the value of their cell therapies. As Tan pointed out, cell and gene therapies work in a manner that is very much ‘just in time'.

“We need to deliver the drug there by a specific time and under specific temperature conditions so that it will be there when the patient is there to receive their infusion and dosing,” he explained. Therefore, the company is laser-focused on refining its process to provide these ‘just in time’ services for patients.

Employer Value Proposition (Why FDB)

Thousand Oaks is an attractive place for those looking to advance a biotech career. Forty miles north of Los Angeles and about 60 miles south of Santa Barbara, the city is home to multiple biotech companies.

“One of the biggest opportunities is to work with technology that is really cutting edge with the potential to transform the field of medicine,” Bolish said. “Many people say that cell therapy is the future of medicine, and in particular, allogeneic cell therapy is really where we see a lot of growth opportunities. If somebody is interested in being involved with cutting-edge process technology, that's what we are focused on delivering here.” 

In addition, “Fujifilm is a well-established company that plans and invests for the long term,” Bolish noted.

“It's a refreshing environment where everyone can feel that their work is recognized and making a difference in the forward progress of the company,” Leslie said.

As for the future, Ayers said, FDB “wants to be the leading CDMO for cell therapy and be a name brand recognized for that, especially in the local community.”

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