GlaxoSmithKline's New R&D Center to House 450 Scientists and Support Staff, Will Create Up to 200 New Jobs

GlaxoSmithKline's New R&D Center to House 450 Scientists and Support Staff, Will Create Up to 200 New Jobs December 13, 2016
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

ROCKVILLE, Md. – A new GlaxoSmithKline research and development facility focused on vaccine development will officially open in Maryland with about 250 employees, with plans expand to more than 400 over the next two years as the company invests an additional $50 million into the facility.

The new vaccine center will be GlaxoSmithKline’s first fully dedicated vaccines R&D center located in the United States, Luc Debruyne, president of GSK Vaccines, said in a statement this morning. Rockville becomes one of three global vaccines R&D centers for GSK, which includes sites in Rixensart, Belgium and in Siena, Italy. GSK acquired the Italian site following an asset swap with drugmaker Novartis AG (NVS) in March 2015.

The new U.S. R&D center will be helmed by Ripley Ballou, Head of GSK’s global vaccines program, the company said in a statement. Some of the employees already based at the site were previously based at a research and development site in Philadelphia. Last year the company shifted about 150 employees from that location to the Maryland facility.

The vaccine R&D site will house a total of 12 critical vaccine development programs, including the company’s newest shingles vaccine, which was filed for approval with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in October. The site will also focus on development of R&D programs for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a major cause of respiratory infections in young children and the elderly, Group B Streptococcus (GBS), a bacterial infection affecting newborns and dengue fever.

“We are delighted to be opening our new facility in Rockville, GSK’s first fully dedicated vaccines R&D center located in the U.S. Our investment here signifies our commitment to discovering and developing new vaccines across a range of pressing public health priorities, including those important here in the U.S.,” Debruyne said.

GSK selected the Rockville site due to its proximity to key research partners, including the National Institutes of Health and other public health stakeholders, the company said. GSK acquired the Maryland site in 2012 from Human Genome Sciences. For the past year, the company said it has prepared the site for its vaccine development role by transferring key staff and projects, installing equipment and modernizing the site ahead of its official opening. In the company statement, GSK said the site will include the latest state-of-the-art scientific research technology and equipment.

Rockville is also the site of GSK’s proposed biopreparedness organization. The BPO a dedicated, permanent organization using a "no profit/no loss" model that will design and develop new vaccines against emerging viruses, bacteria and other pathogens that potentially pose a threat to global public health.

The site will be dedicated by Sir Andrew Witty, the outgoing chief executive officer of GlaxoSmithKline. Witty will step down in March 2017. He will be replaced by Emma Walmsley, who currently helms the company’s consumer healthcare division.

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