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BioRegion Real Estate: Sep 18, 2009

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Eli Lilly Rules Out Moving HQ from Indianapolis After Announcing 5,500-Job Cut as Part of $1B Cutback

Eli Lilly and Co. is not considering moving its headquarters out of Indianapolis, despite announcing plans to reduce its workforce there and at other company facilities by a total 5,500 workers, CEO and president John Lechleiter told the Indianapolis Star on Monday.

Lechleiter acknowledged that Indianapolis could see a large portion of job cuts occurring here, because this is where the highest concentration of jobs is located. But he declined to tell the Star how many jobs might be lost in Indianapolis, the company's headquarters city since its founding 133 years ago.

Lilly employs 40,500 people, of which about 13,500 work in the Indianapolis corporate headquarters, laboratories and manufacturing plants. According to the newspaper, Lechleiter would not say whether the job cuts would hit one job group or department more heavily than another, adding that those decisions have not yet been made: "There are no sacred cows. We are studying everything."

The job cuts are part of a company-wide effort to cut $1 billion in costs over the next two years, and are expected to exceed those carried out in 2001, following the loss of patent protection for the anti-depressant drug Prozac, cutting company revenues by about one-third.

The current job cuts stem from Lilly losing, starting in 2011, patent protection on several drugs accounting for a combined roughly 70 percent of sales. The pharma giant also faces growing pressure from private insurers and the federal government to contain soaring drug prices as a means of reducing healthcare costs. In addition to the layoffs, Lilly said it will restructure itself by establishing a Development Center of Excellence designed to speed up development of new drugs.


Bayer Sets $100M Retooling of Berkeley, Calif., Manufacturing Site, Eyed for Next-Generation Hemophelia Drug

After hinting it may move out of Berkeley, Calif., Bayer HealthCare announced this week it will stay in the California city and spend more than $100 million to retool its manufacturing facility there to allow for producing future versions of its hemophilia drug Kogenate, in return for the promise of $13.6 million in tax credits over 10 years.

The project marks the largest investment ever made by Bayer at the 43-acre Berkeley site, which employs 1,300 people, Joerg Heidrich, head of Bayer HealthCare's product supply biotech organization, told the Contra Costa Times.

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The plan hinges on an expansion of the lower-tax state Enterprise Zone where the facility is located. The Berkeley City Council and the state of California are expected to approve the expansion of the zone, which straddles Berkeley and Oakland. The city council is due to take up the enterprise zone issue on Sept. 22, the newspaper reported.

Bayer had considered the expansion as one of several options for producing Kogenate; other options included farming out the work to contract manufacturers, which would likely have resulted in Bayer dismantling the Berkeley facility, the San Francisco Business Times reported last month.

After Bayer approached Berkeley earlier this year to inform the city it was considering a move, Berkeley responded by accelerating efforts to join an enterprise zone originally within Oakland. In less than two weeks, Oakland drafted a resolution to add Berkeley and nearby Emeryville, Calif., to its enterprise zone, urging the Oakland City Council to approve the extension at its July 28 meeting — which the council did, unanimously, the Business Times reported.


Genzyme Plans $68M Renovation for Northborough, Mass., Set to Consolidate Framingham, Allston Operations

Genzyme plans to spend about $68 million to renovate an existing 210,000-square-foot facility in Northborough, Mass., which the biotech giant will turn into a center for its warehouse and distribution operations, quality control group, finished goods, labeling and packaging group, and its clinical pharmacy research group. Those operations are all being consolidated at Northborough from cramped facilities in nearby Framingham, Mass., and Allston, Mass.

About 165 of Genzyme's current employees will work in the Northborough complex, at 11 Forbes Road, upon completion next year, with the company also planning to hire another 30 to 50 new employees. Between 150 and 200 construction workers will be needed for the renovation.

A significant part of the money being spent on the site will be used to install heating and air conditioning systems intended to help the new facility earn the second-highest or "gold" rating under the US Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification program, the Metro West Daily News reported.

Inside the building, workers have already stripped floors down to concrete and ripped out walls, exposing pillars, wires and beams. Ceilings in the warehouse are 34 feet tall, enough for Genzyme to install stacks of pallets and refrigeration units. Loading docks line two sides of the warehouse, the Telegram & Gazette of Worcester, Mass., reported.


With Ribbon-Cuttings in Baltimore and Rockville, Md., Maryland Biotechnology Center Opens Two Offices

Maryland officials and biotechnology leaders this week celebrated the opening of two offices for the Maryland Biotechnology Center, a state agency launched earlier this year as a "one-stop stop" for life-sci employers seeking to relocate to Maryland or expand there [BRN, May 21].

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The center's eight staffers work from central offices at the World Trade Center building at 401 East Pratt St. in Baltimore, and an office at 9700 Great Seneca Highway in the Shady Grove life-sci campus in Rockville, Md., within biotech-rich, suburban Montgomery County.

Lawrence Mahan, the center’s executive director, told the Maryland Daily Record that the center was launched with $5.5 million in state funds — $1.2 million from the fiscal year 2009 budget, $4.3 million from the budget of the current fiscal year, which began July 1.

He said getting entrepreneurs started will be among the goals of the new office, as will giving them access to information about Maryland’s grant-funding programs, opportunities to collaborate with scientists at local universities and help with developing their businesses, the newspaper reported.

The biotech center was the first recommendation of BioMaryland 2020: A Strategic Plan for the Life Sciences in Maryland, a 17-point program to boost the state's life-sci industry hammered out by the Maryland Life Science Advisory Board, a 15-member panel created by Gov. Martin O'Malley. The biotech center was also included in O'Malley's BioMaryland 2020 initiative, a $1.3 billion package of programs intended to catapult the state to the top strata of life-sci leadership.

Karen Olson, a member of the state’s Life Sciences Advisory Board and CEO of Baltimore-based BioMarker Strategies, told the Daily Record the board was able to push for a biotechnology center after O’Malley visited a similar center in North Carolina, one of the state’s biggest competitors in the field: “We entrepreneurs were calling for it and then he was able to see how effective that was in North Carolina."


€14.8M Approved for New Systems Biology Ireland Research Center

Ireland's government has agreed to spend €14.8 million ($21.8 million) over the next five years to establish the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Science, Engineering & Technology in Systems Biology, a new research center to be led by University College Dublin and its Conway Institute.

The center will employ 69 people and focus on systems biology, the mapping of interactions between the elements of a biological system and the building of models intended to accurately reproduce that system’s behavior. The new research center is also being supported through industry partners that include Ark Therapeutics, Hewlett Packard, Servier, Agilent Technologies, Siemens Ireland, and Protagen.

The new center, also called Systems Biology Ireland, "should greatly assist the [Industrial Development Agency] to attract further high-end foreign direct investment, and also allow Irish SMEs to grow," Ireland's minister for science, technology and innovation, Conor Lenihan, said in a statement.

Systems Biology Ireland "is working with a range of industry partners to develop new technologies for biomedical research," the statement also said.


Tarrytown, NY's Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Reaches the 1,000-Employee Mark, Plans Another 50 Hires by Year's End

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals in Tarrytown, NY, has hired its 1,000th employee, and plans to hire another 50 staffers by year's end after increasing staff by 35 percent in 2008, the Westchester County Business Journal of White Plains, NY, reported.

News of the hirings comes as Regeneron moves into two new three-story buildings totaling 229,000 square feet bamboo-floored, naturally lighted space within the Landmark at Eastview, the life-sci campus owned by BioMed Realty Trust of San Diego. A third building was also constructed, but remains available for lease, the newspaper reported.

With the expansion, Regeneron now occupies 390,000 square feet of lab and office space at Landmark at Eastview.

The company's workforce includes about 300 workers at its manufacturing facility in upstate Rensselaer, NY, a former drug company plant acquired in 1993, as well as staffers at a satellite office for clinical development in Bridgewater, NJ, opened last year in order to attract experienced employees from the Garden State's downsizing pharmaceutical companies, according to the Business Journal.


The Scan

For Flu and More

The Wall Street Journal reports that several vaccine developers are working on mRNA-based vaccines for influenza.

To Boost Women

China's Ministry of Science and Technology aims to boost the number of female researchers through a new policy, reports the South China Morning Post.

Science Papers Describe Approach to Predict Chemotherapeutic Response, Role of Transcriptional Noise

In Science this week: neural network to predict chemotherapeutic response in cancer patients, and more.

Plan Rebuffed

The Associated Press reports China has rejected the World Health Organization's proposal to include the lab-leak theory in the next phase of its investigation into the origins of SARS-CoV-2.