Skip to content
Bridge the Gap CGT Webinar Series

Join Us for the Bridging the Gap Webinar Series

A monthly panel discussion on emerging topics that are changing the field of cell and gene therapy 

Cell and Gene Therapy Discussion Panel

The expanding use of advanced therapy medicinal products (ATMPs) is presenting a new set of challenges for staff and infrastructure at point of care centers. Our “Bridging the Gap” webinar series opens a platform to discuss industry questions, address pressing issues, hear from cell and gene therapy leaders, and network with peers.

Featuring prominent guest speakers spanning fields from scientific discovery to clinical introduction of cell and gene therapies, this webinar series roundtable is created by leaders in the field for their peers. Join us to hear discussions of hot topics, address critical areas of need, and share insights not being discussed anywhere else.  Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions and get answers from the live panel.

Sign up for the series. You’ll receive a webinar log-in code several days before each event. You can unsubscribe (or resubscribe) at any time by emailing:

Sponsored by Azenta Life Sciences and the Emily Whitehead Foundation with industry-leading guest hosts and speakers.




Register for the series

Complete the form to register for the webinar series. You'll receive a new link each month to log in to the webinar. You may unsubscribe anytime.

Monthly Virtual Panel Discussion

Who:  Industry leaders, providers of cell and gene therapies, and all interested stakeholders 

What:  Various featured panelists from clinic and industry, along with host Tom Whitehead of the Emily Whitehead Foundation 

Why:  Address emerging challenges around implementation of cell and gene therapies, and raise awareness of clinical trial opportunities 

Where:  Online via GoTo Webinar

When:  First Friday of each month at 8 am PST / 11 am EST / 4 pm  GMT / 5 pm CET. Days and times may change so make sure you register to receive updates.


Date: Friday, August 2, 2024

Time:  8 am PST/11 am EST/ 5 pm CET

Guest Speaker:   Laura Alquist, Vice President and Head of Global Manufacturing, Kite Pharma, a Gilead Company

With Panelists: Dr. Patrick Hanley, Professor and Director of the Cellular Therapy Program at Children’s National Hospital, and Al Ribickas, Assistant Director of Cell Therapy Facility Operations, Moffitt Cancer Center.



Friday August 2, 2024

Headshot - Laura Alquist[46]

Laura Alquist

Vice President and Head of Global Manufacturing, Kite Pharma, a Gilead Company

Laura Alquist is Vice President and Head of Global Manufacturing at Kite, a Gilead Company, where she leads a multi-site, global network of T-cell therapy and viral vector facilities responsible for manufacturing Kite’s cell therapy products.  

Employees at Kite manufacturing locations ensure successful production and delivery of innovative CAR T-cell therapies to patients around the world with industry-leading turnaround times. The team works collaboratively with other Technical Operations functions (i.e., Process Development, Quality, Supply Chain), as well as Clinical Operations, Commercial, and IT to anticipate and meet patient demand for Kite’s cell therapy products.

Laura joined Kite in 2016, serving in a variety of positions where she helped design and optimize end-to-end operations and processes. She was instrumental in shaping and scaling Kite’s global operations as the company’s reach and network expanded, and as the number of regulatory geographies and demand for commercial products grew. Most recently, Laura led the Global Supply Chain organization in managing logistics, labeling, and packaging engineering, inventory management, sourcing and procurement, supply and operations planning, master data governance, sales and operations, and business systems. 

Prior to joining Kite, Laura spent 20 years at Amgen in a range of global and operational roles of increasing responsibility across Supply Chain, Manufacturing, Quality, and IT.  

Laura holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from California Lutheran University and is APICS certified in Supply Chain operations.


Meet Our Hosts and Panelists

Albert Ribickas

Panelist: Albert Ribickas

Assistant Director of Cell Therapy Facility Operations, Moffitt Cancer Center

Al Ribickas is the Assistant Director of Cell Therapy Facility Operations at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida. He is board certified by the American Society of Clinical Pathology as a Medical Technologist, a Specialist in Blood Banking, and as a Hemapheresis Practioner.  Al has worked on the production of various cellular therapies clinical trial products, and the implementation of commercial FDA approved products.



Panelist: Patrick Hanley, PhD

Director of the Cellular Therapy Program at Children’s National Hospital

Dr. Hanley, Chief and Director of the Cellular Therapy Program and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Children's National Hospital and George Washington University, has 16 years of experience translating 550+ cellular therapy products across 25 protocols into clinical practice. He's VP-North America of ISCT, on its board, and co-founded the Early Stage Professionals committee. Dr. Hanley is the commissioning editor of Cytotherapy and a board member of FACT. He advises various cell and gene therapy biotech companies and, in his free time, engages with scientists and Bills fans on Twitter, enjoys soccer, cycling, cooking, and traveling.


tom whitehead

Co-host: Tom Whitehead

Co-Founder of the Emily Whitehead Foundation

Tom Whitehead is a keynote speaker, author, and co-founder of the Emily Whitehead Foundation, which raises funds and awareness for pediatric cancer immunotherapy research. Tom and his wife Kari founded the Emily Whitehead Foundation in honor of their daughter Emily who was diagnosed at age five with an aggressive form of leukemia that failed to respond to chemotherapy. As a last hope, Emily was enrolled in a clinical trial and became the first pediatric patient in the world to receive CAR T-cell therapy. The therapy worked and Emily is now 11 years cancer free and considered cured.


Olga Bukatova

Co-host: Olga Bukatova

Assoc. Dir, Biz Development CGT at Azenta Life Sciences

With a decade-long commitment to advancing GMP manufacturing technologies for Cell and Gene Therapies, Olga Bukatova’s expertise spans critical domains, including process automation, cryopreservation and thawing, isolator technologies, and aseptic fill & finish. Throughout her career, Olga focused on delivery of these transformative treatments to patients, working with start-ups, public organizations, pharmaceutical companies, and their CDMOs. As a member of the ISCT cold chain working group, she keeps on addressing the multifaceted challenges within the CGT landscape.



Register to watch previous webinars on demand

July 2024 - Dr. Puri - Attacking Solid Tumors: TIL Revolution and Next Generation Advanced Therapies

June 2024 - Dr. Mukherjee - Bridging the Global Access Gap to Advanced Therapies

May 2024 - Dr. Forte - Shaping Tomorrow’s Standards of Care: Improving Patient Access to Advanced Therapies

April 2024 - Dr. Hege - Trailblazing Paths in Cancer Immunotherapy

March 2024 - Dr. Lederberger - Off the Beaten Path: Lessons in Decentralized Cell and Gene Therapy Manufacturing

February 2024 - Dr. Levine - What's Next in Cell and Gene Therapies: Anticipating the Next Advanced Therapy Breakthroughs

December 2023 - Dr. Warkentin - The Journey Toward Standardization in the Advancement of Cell Therapy

November 2023- Dr. Grupp - Reflecting on the Past Decade of Treating Patients with Advanced Therapies 


About this Webinar Series

This webinar series began organically in 2020 as a monthly virtual panel discussion called “First Fridays” to raise awareness and invite open dialogue between the creators of cell and gene therapies and those administering them.

The original series has been re-launched and expanded as “Bridging the Gap” and continues as a monthly virtual panel discussion sponsored by Azenta Life Sciences and the Emily Whitehead Foundation.

It is hosted each month by Tom Whitehead of the Emily Whitehead Foundation, along with a featured guest and host from the cell and gene therapy space. These discussions focus on receipt, storage, and handling of cryogenically preserved therapies, SOP challenges, and solutions that can move the industry forward.

Presented by:
emily whitehead foundation logo

Suggest a topic

Have a topic you’d like us to consider for an upcoming session?  Submit it on the form above.