My name is Jessica Drouillard, director of biomaterials operations for Versiti in Milwaukee, Wisc. I have worked in blood banking since 2008, first in Florida before moving to the Midwest to join Versiti in 2018. I am a Specialist in Blood Banking (SBB) and hold a Bachelor of Science Degree in biochemistry and a Master’s Degree in transfusion medicine. I have held a variety of different roles supporting cord blood banking, immunohematology reference laboratories and donor testing before transitioning to my current role where I support scientists and manufacturers through Versiti’s provision of high-quality blood products for research, manufacturing, and clinical development.
I’ve spent the majority of my career helping to solve complex immunohematology challenges to ensure we provide the safest possible blood transfusions to our patients, especially patients with sickle cell disease and those requiring chronic transfusion support. In the diagnostic laboratories, we always dreamed of a day when true cures would be available for our patients, and the rapid advancements in the field of biotherapies are starting to make these dreams a reality. The tremendous potential to translate expertise in blood banking into support for the development of novel treatments in the cell and gene space is what sparked my interest in biotherapies and keeps me engaged every day.
My involvement with AABB started with my first abstract presentation at the 2015 AABB Annual Meeting. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to serve on several AABB committees, travel as an AABB volunteer assessor, and mentor other professionals through AABB’s mentoring program.
As the first certification of its kind, the CABP certification was important to me as a way to differentiate myself in the field and join others who have achieved a standard of excellence for expertise, experience and personal development in the field.
As the biotherapies field continues to rapidly expand and advance, it will become increasingly more important to be able to identify highly qualified professionals within our field, as well as to attract and train more talent as our workforce grows. The core competencies necessary for success in this field are broad and typically developed with a combination of formal education and work experience. The CABP certification allows an objective method to identify those well-rounded professionals who stand out among their peers, as well as a path for those with formal education and work experience to show their commitment to the field of biotherapies. Further, the network of CABP certified professionals has already proved greatly valuable to find and recognize other highly qualified professionals for networking and collaboration.
The group of CABP certified individuals is already very diverse in terms of roles and specialties within the field. Those involved with research, patient care, collections, manufacturing or testing of biotherapy products should consider registering for the exam. Not only does the credentialing process give you an opportunity to showcase your expertise, it also provides an opportunity to challenge yourself to learn more about the field as a whole.
Our advanced biotherapies programs at Versiti are rapidly developing and our clients are making amazing progress on their research and development efforts. My favorite part of my job is working with scientists to understand their projects and help to identify ways we can activate our blood center’s capabilities to identify new ways to tailor our biomaterial and clinical trial support offerings to accelerate the availability of cures for patients.
Becoming a CABP is a mark of distinction, establishing that qualified professionals have demonstrated – through a certification exam – that they have the necessary knowledge to credibly practice in the field of biotherapies.