La Salle students gaining internship experience at PA-based gene editing company

May 22, 2024

Three students will use their science and business education to work in technical operations and manufacturing at the company. 

iECURE office

Three La Salle students are gaining hands-on experience at a gene editing company this summer.  

iECURE is a clinical-stage gene editing company. The organization is working on developing therapies that utilize mutation-agnostic in vivo gene insertion, or knock-in, editing for the treatment of liver disorders. Their approach could allow for the replacement and restoration of the function of a dysfunctional gene through knocking-in a healthy copy of that gene to offer durable gene expression and long-term, potentially curative, therapeutic benefit.  

Joseph “Joe” E. Truitt III, ’86, MBA, is the CEO and board director of iECURE. He joined La Salle’s Board of Trustees in 2021 with over 20 years of senior leadership experience in the pharmaceutical industry, following his service as a Captain in the United States Marine Corps. 

“Life sciences in the Philadelphia area is exploding with innovation and growth, and creating fantastic opportunities, particularly for people beginning their careers,” Truitt said. 

Through the La Salle alumni network, Derek Hammel ’24, Ed Klos ’24, and Christian Petro, ’23, received the opportunity to meet Truitt and discuss the possibility of interning. 

“One of the great benefits for students attending La Salle University is the strong alumni network,” C. Andrew Lafond, ‘86, DBA, CPA, accounting professor said. “The strong bond between La Salle alumni and current students creates invaluable opportunities for mentorship, networking, and career advancement. Whether it is accounting, business, nursing, education or communications, La Salle has so many faithful alums that love La Salle and are so willing to give kids a start with their career.  Joe Truitt is one of those alums that is consistently looking to help La Salle and our students.” 

Hammel, an Honors program student, received a bachelor’s degree in biology. Petro graduated from La Salle with a bachelor’s degree in integrated science business technology (ISBT) and is now on track to receive a master’s degree in bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania through La Salle’s accelerated bachelor’s-to-master’s program, an academic partnership with Penn Engineering. Klos will receive a degree in ISBT this December.  

Derek Hammel ’24

“I’m thrilled to work with iECURE and contribute to such groundbreaking projects,” Klos said. “Thanks to La Salle University’s excellent networking opportunities and Mr. Lafond’s invaluable guidance, I’ve been able to secure this amazing opportunity. I’m truly grateful for the support from our community that helped launch my career.” 

“All three of these students are typical La Salle students balancing a heavy course load, actively involved on campus, while maintaining part-time jobs on top of it all,” Lafond said. “Christian and Derek were former Presidents of Sigma Phi Lambda and Ed was actively involved with the Alpha Phi Delta fraternity.  All three of these students will use their science and business education to work in technical operations and manufacturing—what a great opportunity—only made possible by a caring alumnus.  We are so lucky to have so many alums that go out of their way to help current La Salle students.” 

Hammel will be working as a project management intern which will support various functional areas of the company including clinical operations, regulatory operations, project management, and advocacy. 

He’s excited to use his “passion for science” at an organization that’s helping people through its work. He’s looking forward to gaining experience from professionals in the career path he’s looking to follow.  

He said alongside the academics, being connected to La Salle alumni is a benefit of the tight-knit community the University provides.  

“The greatest asset La Salle can provide is its alumni network,” Hammel said.  

Petro feels similarly as networking can make all the difference in a competitive job market. 

Christian Petro, ’23

“I am extremely grateful to be able to utilize the connections I have made from La Salle as it is currently difficult navigating this competitive job market,” he said 

Petro is appreciative of the La Salle community that allowed him to be known and make a difference.  

“At La Salle you can ultimately develop your career and set yourself up at a young age,” he said.    

He said his La Salle degree helped prepare him for the bioengineering program at the University of Pennsylvania. Now, he has a lot of flexibility in what he can do with his career. For starters, he’ll be working as a business development, competitive intelligence intern with iECURE.  

“We started our internship program in 2023 with one outstanding student from La Salle’s Integrated Science, Business, and Technology (ISBT) program,” Truitt said. “This year we have expanded our program to include three more supermotivated graduates, providing them with the opportunity to gain real-world experience, grow their professional networks, and develop new skills while working alongside iECURE team members. We look forward to future engagement with the University, as we help to transition students from academia to industry.”