Pfizer to Consolidate Cambridge R&D Sites and Move Hundreds of Employees to Kendall Square

Published: Jul 23, 2015

Pfizer to Consolidate Cambridge R&D Sites and Move Hundreds of Employees to Kendall Square
July 22, 2015
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Pfizer Inc. is consolidating its three Cambridge operations under one roof with the leasing of 500,000 square feet at 610 Main Street in Kendall Square from a subsidiary of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the company announced this morning.

Through consolidating facilities, Pfizer will have additional abilities to collaborate with a plethora of other biotech companies and research universities in the area, the company said.

“As researchers, we work every day to advance the science that creates new transformative medicines for patients in need. By bringing together some of the greatest minds in the industry in an open and flexible environment, we believe we will be poised now more than ever to help accelerate discovery, incubate innovation in creative ways, and increase the pace of innovation,” Michael Ehlers, head of Pfizer’s Cambridge space said in a statement.

The expanded Kendall Square research center will help “foster a strong laboratory culture, with experimentation and collaboration in the heart of Cambridge’s Kendall Square innovation hub, featuring state-of-the-art labs and an open design to help foster breakthrough productivity and innovation that will potentially advance Pfizer’s pipeline,” the company said.

The consolidated facility will house about 1,000 employees in total, the Boston Globe noted. The Globe noted that Pfizer will move about 280 employees from three smaller sites to the new facility, which is connected to the structure that houses Pfizer’s research center in Kendall Square, that was launched last year. Although the company is consolidating its Boston-area facilities under one roof, the company does not immediately plan to add researchers or scientists, the Globe added. Some of the space Pfizer secured will allow for future expansions, or for the pharmaceutical giant to sublease to another biotech company, Pfizer said.

Pfizer’s Cambridge research focuses on rare diseases, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, inflammation and immunology, neuroscience and biotherapeutic technologies.

In 2011, Pfizer signed a 10-year lease agreement with MIT for a 180,000-square-foot facility in Kendall Square to house the company’s Cardiovascular, Metabolic and Endocrine Disease (CVMED) and Neuroscience Research Units. At the time of the lease decision, Pfizer said the space in Cambridge would “provide the best environment for our researchers to invent the next generation of medicines in areas of greatest need, such as Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.” The opening of that facility brought approximately 400 Pfizer employees to the area.

Although Pfizer is consolidating much of its research and development under one roof, the company’s Center for Therapeutic Innovation, which works with teaching hospitals on early-stage research programs, will remain in Boston’s Longwood Medical Area, the Boston Globe said.

While Pfizer is consolidating its presence in Kendall Square, things haven’t been totally rosy for some employees. In February, Pfizer announced it was laying off a number of research and development employees in response to “shifting priorities.”

Cambridge’s Kendall Square area is packed with biotech representatives. In May, Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Company (LLY) announced it will build a new drug delivery and device innovation center, the Lilly Cambridge Innovation Center, in Kendall Square.

In April, Amgen , headquartered in Thousand Oaks, Calif., announced it was going to expand its presence in its Cambridge facilities, as well as in South San Francisco, part of a 100-person staff expansion. It indicated 75 new hires would be at its Kendall Square location.

BioMed Realty Trust rebranded almost 350,000 square feet of former Vertex space over three buildings in Boston as the Sidney Research Campus. Vertex Pharmaceuticals vacated the space in 2013 when it moved a few miles into Boston.

The new Sidney Research Campus facility already has its first tenant lined up. RaNA Therapeutics, a 25-employee preclinical biotech headed by Ron Renaud, the former CEO of Idenix Pharmaceuticals, Inc. , will move in September, the Journal reported. More tenants are expected to be announced later this year. In 2013, RaNa inked a deal with Denmark-based Santaris Pharma A/S to use Santaris’ Locked Nucleic Acid (LNA) technology to develop RNA-targeted medicines.

One of the reasons for the greater Boston area becoming such a major hub in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries is the plethora of research universities in the area. Boston also has one of the highest educated workforces in the nation. Not only are smaller companies calling the Boston area home, but many larger and established pharmaceutical companies, such as GlaxoSmithKline , Takeda Pharmaceuticals , Sanofi , Biogen Idec, Inc. and Novartis AG have presences in the city. The close proximity of so many pharmaceutical and university laboratories provides researchers and scientists easy access to clinical studies and building partnerships between companies.

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