Novartis AG Shakes it Up Again, Moving Singapore Facility to the Bay Area and Will Create New R&D Ops in Massachusetts and Basel

Novartis AG Shakes it Up Again, Moving Singapore Facility to the Bay Area and Will Create New R&D Ops in Massachusetts and Basel October 5, 2016
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

BASEL, Switzerland – Novartis AG continues to shake up its R&D units. Now the Swiss-based company is moving its Institute for Tropical Diseases from Singapore to the Bay Area as part of the company’s “broader strategic plan,” James Bradner, president of Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research said in an interview with the Straits Times.

The shift from Singapore to Emeryville, Calif. will place the ITD next to the company’s existing infectious disease headquarters, the Times said. In his interview with the Times, Bradner said having the two research entities next to each other will “empower the research through the strength of collaborative proximity.” The ITD currently has two malaria treatments in clinical development. In addition to malaria, the ITD has been focused on developing therapies for other tropical ailments such as Dengue fever and Human African Trypanosomiasis. The relocation of the ITD to the Bay Area is expected to happen over the next year, the Financial Times reported.

In addition to the shift of the ITD from Singapore, Novartis also announced it was shuttering two units in China and Switzerland, Endpoints reported. The company is also focusing on new early discovery R&D operations in Cambridge, Mass. Endpoints noted “the Chemical Biology and Therapeutics team will merge two existing teams and focus on ‘harnessing the power of chemical biology and other cutting edge technologies such as CRISPR, DNA encoded libraries and targeted protein degradation to discover new drug targets.’” The company has also established two new “centers for excellence” in Cambridge and Basel.

Although Novartis is shifting the ITD out of Singapore, the company will continue to maintain a strong presence in the city-state. The company has spent more than $1.2 billion in investments at its Singapore facilities and employs more than 1,500 people in four different production plants. The ITD employs 85. Some of those employees are likely to apply for other positions within the Novartis Singapore division, while others could move to the Bay Area and continue the work they started.

Novartis has been making some changes to its research and development arm. At the end of August, the company dissolved its Cell and Gene Therapy Unit and terminated a number of employees and executives attached to the group. When Novartis made the announcement, one that sent ripples across the CAR-T world, the company said it was not abandoning the work, but said the research will be reintegrated into “the larger Novartis organization, as part of a natural evolution of our internal organizational design.”

Joe Jimenez, chief executive officer of Novartis, is focused on shoring up the company’s pipeline and address some core issues and challenges facing the company—including a loss of revenue as it now faces generic challenges to Gleevec, its blood cancer drug that lost patent protection in the United States.

The shakeup of Novartis is in line with the company’s integrated development model, which includes three focused, customer-facing divisions. The divisions will be Innovative Medicines (formerly the Novartis Pharmaceuticals division), which will include the Novartis Pharmaceuticals and Novartis Oncology business units; Sandoz, the generics and biosimilar division, which includes the Retail Generics, Anti-Infectives and Biopharmaceuticals franchises; and Alcon , the eye care devices division, which includes the Surgical and Vision Care franchises. The divisions will be supported by Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, Global Drug Development and Novartis Operations, which includes Technical Operations and Novartis Business Services.

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