Google Inc.'s Calico To Hire As Many As 150 Staffers; Some May Be Current Genentech Employees

Google Inc.'s Calico To Hire As Many As 150 Staffers; Some May Be Current Genentech Employees

September 5, 2014

By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff

With news of Google Inc.'s healthcare R&D spinoff Calico inking a major collaboration agreement with AbbVie , the company has indicated it will be jumpstarting new hiring (up to 150). A significant aspect of the collaboration agreement is the building of a new R&D facility in the San Francisco Bay area. Calico announced it would begin hiring for critical positions and increasing its scientific and research team in the San Francisco Bay area.

The collaboration agreement between the two companies was initiated with each company dropping $250 million into the project. Calico will focus on R&D for the first five years and advancing projects through phase 2a for a ten-year period. AbbVie will support the R&D, and once phase 2a studies are completed, will manage and commercialize any potential products. The companies will split the costs and profits equally. Costs may include up to $1 billion additional investment funds.

In a statement, AbbVie Chair and CEO Richard A. Gonzalez, said, “This collaboration demonstrates our commitment to exploring new areas of medicine and innovative approaches to drug discovery and development that augments our already robust pipeline.”

Dubbed one of Google’s “moonshot” projects, Calico is involved in research looking at extending and controlling lifespan and other age-related diseases, including neurodegeneration and cancer. AbbVie, founded in 2013, is an R&D company spun off by Abbott . AbbVie also recently announced it had signed a global collaboration agreement with Infinity Pharmaceuticals to develop and market duvelisib (IPI-145), a potential treatment for blood cancers. AbbVie was providing an upfront payment of $275 million with milestone payments potentially reaching $530.

In related news, Arthur D. Levinson, CEO of Calico, resigned from Roche’s Board of Directors, citing potential conflict of interest. This was a direct result of the Calico-AbbVie collaboration. Although not much is known about Calico’s business structures or actual R&D efforts, it is run by individuals with an excellent pedigree in scientific research and drug development, including Levinson, Hal V. Barron, David Botstein, Cynthia Kenyon, and Robert Cohen. Levinson was former chair of Genentech . Barron was formerly EVP, head of global product development, and Chief Medical Officer of Hoffman-La Roche. Botstein was the director of the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics at Princeton University. Kenyon founded Elixir Pharmaceuticals and is noted for her extensive work on the genetics of aging. Cohen was a Senior Oncology Fellow at Genentech.

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