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Deals and Doings: Dec 22, 2008

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At $28 a Square Foot, Mass. Life Sciences Center Leases New HQ Space in Boston Suburb
 
The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center — the quasi-public agency that oversees  the state’s $1 billion, 10-year Life Sciences Act — announced it will lease 5,855 square feet at an office park in the Boston suburb of Waltham, Mass.
 
The life-sci center will pay $28 per square foot for its space starting next year, spokesman Angus McQuilken told BRN last week. The center will be located at 1000 Winter Street, a four-story building within the Bay Colony Corporate Center, a 968,831-square-foot office campus located on 58 acres overlooking the Cambridge Reservoir and Route 128.
 
March 1 is the date targeted by the center for moving in.
 
“This is a location that allows accessibility for life sciences stakeholders across the state, because we are a statewide center and this is a statewide initiative, and not meant to serve just one region of the state,” McQuilken said in an interview.
 
The center’s President and CEO Susan Windham-Bannister, said in a press release that the center made its leasing decision “with an eye towards accessibility and fiscal responsibility, as this space is less expensive than in other areas we considered.”
 
In addition to the new headquarters, the center said in an announcement, it will maintain “a small workspace” in Boston. Until now, the center had shared space in with the state’s Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development in a state government building downtown Boston.
 
Bay Colony is owned by Broadway Partners, a private real estate and investment firm headquartered in New York City. Sue Donovan, senior vice president of the real estate firm DTZ FHO Partners, represented Broadway Partners in lease talks; Peter McDonald of McDonald Real Estate Ventures represented the center.
 

 
University of Michigan Eyes 2,000 New Jobs in Ex-Pfizer Campus It Will Buy in Ann Arbor
 
The University of Michigan’s Board of Regents last week approved plans by the university to purchase the 2 million-square-foot former Pfizer lab-office campus in Ann Arbor for $108 million,
 
The 174-acre site, adjacent to U-M’s North Campus, includes 30 laboratory and administrative buildings, as well as amenities and open land. UM said it projects the acquisition will create 2,000 researcher and research support jobs over the next decade, as well as enhance its ability to foster academic-business research collaborations.
 
“The University of Michigan has taken a critical step in advancing our work in health, biomedical sciences and other disciplines,” U-M President Mary Sue Coleman and Robert Kelch, executive vice president for medical affairs, said in an e-mail message to university staffers and students soon after the regents’ Dec. 18 action. “We are increasing our capacity to contribute as one of the great research universities, while creating jobs that ensure our region’s intellectual and economic vitality.”
 
U-M said it expected to close on its purchase in June 2009, using funds drawn mostly from U-M Health System reserves, as well as some investment income.
 
Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftie issued a statement saying the deal had “troubling aspects to it” since the site would come off the city’s tax rolls; the city received 28 percent of the roughly $2.5 million in taxes generated by the property last year. He added: “If the U-M is able to greatly expand life sciences research in Ann Arbor it will have far reaching, long-term economic benefits for the whole region.”

Pfizer has all but shuttered the campus, which employed 2,100 people before the pharma giant’s announcement of January 2007 that it would close the campus. The shutdown has come at a time when Ann Arbor has seen a flurry of activity from early-stage therapeutics and medical device companies [BRN, Jan. 14].
 

 
Charles River Labs Plans $20M Charleston, SC-Area Warehouse/Research Site
 
Charles River Laboratories International is planning a new $20 million warehouse and research site in the Charleston, SC, area that will generate 60 new jobs, the Charleston Post and Courier has reported.
 
Foster Jordan, a senior vice president with Charles River Labs, cited South Carolina’s workforce, innovation and commitment to the life sciences as factors in the company’s decision to expand operations there, the newspaper reported. The company did not disclose exactly where or when the project would be built.
 
Charles River Labs has been in an expansion mode in recent months, opening a 60,000-square-foot preclinical services facility in Shanghai [BRN, Oct. 20], and a 52,000-square-foot research laboratory in Frederick, Md., with the goals of better serving a key customer, the National Cancer Institute, and other customers in the Washington, DC, region [BRN, Aug. 4].
 

 
UCSF Wins $25M from Broad Foundation Toward $123M Stem Cell Headquarters
 
The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation has donated $25 million toward the stem cell program of the University of California, San Francisco. UCSF said last week the funds will be put toward the construction of a $123 million headquarters for the program on the school’s Parnassus Campus.
 
The new facility will include 25 labs involved in various areas of human and animal embryonic and adult stem cell and related early-cell studies. Designed by architect Raphael Viñoly, the building is a series of four split-level floors with terraced grass roofs and solar orientation. Open labs flow into each other, with office and lounge areas located on the circulation route between the labs. The building will be connected by an enclosed walking bridge to inpatient and outpatient clinics at UCSF Medical Center, a design feature intended to support the goal of translating basic research findings to clinical trials.
 
Construction of the building began in September — the projected cost has risen from the $119 million figure cited last September — and is scheduled for completion in mid-2010 [BRN, Oct. 6].
 
UCSF will rename its Institute for Regeneration Medicine the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCSF.
 
The Broad Foundation is the largest non-governmental donor to stem cell research in California, having given $75 million to support or create stem cell centers at UCSF, as well as at UC-Los Angeles and University of Southern California.
 
Researchers based at UCSF have received 27 research grants and two facilities grants from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the state’s stem-cell research and facilities funding agency, for a total of about $82.4 million, not counting the UCSF-affiliated J. David Gladstone Institutes, which have received 10 research grants and one facilities grant, for a total of nearly $8.8 million.
 
In addition to the Broad donation, the new facility has been funded through a $34.9 million grant from CIRM awarded in May 2008, and a $16 million donation from Ray and Dagmar Dolby, who launched UCSF’s fund raising campaign for the building in 2005.
 

 
Portuguese Manufacturer Buys Pfizer Manufacturing Plant in Cork, Ireland
 
Portuguese manufacturer Hovione will acquire a Pfizer drug manufacturing plant in Cork, Ireland, where it will take over production of intermediates for atorvastatin, the active ingredient in the pharma giant’s cholesterol drug Lipitor.
 
We know very well what China can do for the pharma industry, but we also know what it can't do, and it is for those reasons that we are now in Cork,” Hovione chief executive Guy Villax told Outsourcing-Pharma.
 
Villax told the news outlet it would retain 70-80 of the 230-odd workers at the facility, while Pfizer issued a statement saying some of the plant’s staff may be moved to other company facilities. Over the next 24 months Hovione will transfer production of products to Cork from a site in Loures, Portugal. 
 
The new site adds 427 square meters [4,596 square feet] of manufacturing capacity to Hovione’s roughly 800 sq. m. combined in Loures and China. The price of the facility was not disclosed pending closing of the sale, set for April 2009.
 

 
MedImmune Leases New 100,000 sq ft Building at Cambridge, UK, Science Park

MedImmune has agreed to lease a new 100,000-square-foot research and development building at MEPC Granta Park in Cambridge, UK, the business and science campus reported on its blog.

MedImmune, which employs almost 400 people at its Cambridge site, is the largest tenant in the MEPC portfolio of eight business and science parks. Since a predecessor company, Cambridge Antibody Technology, moved into 20,000 square feet at the park in 2001, the company has expanded its presence there and now occupies 180,000 square feet, Granta Park said.

Headquartered in Gaithersburg, Md., MedImmune is the global biologics unit of UK-based AstraZeneca. The building was named after and officially opened by Sir Aaron Klug, winner of the 1982 Nobel Prize in chemistry.

 

 
Colorado State Set to Start Construction on $53M Biotech Incubator/Research Center

Colorado State University said it plans to start construction Dec. 17 on a new $53 million, 72,000-square-foot biotechnology business incubator and Research Innovation Center.

The building will be located within the Judson Harper Research Complex on the Foothills Research Campus, and serve as an addition to CSU’s 38,000-square-foot Rocky Mountain Regional Biocontainment Laboratory, completed in October 2007 on the Foothills Campus. Anticipated completion date for the incubator/research center project is spring 2010.

 

 

Signature Genomic Laboratories Leases Expansion Space in Spokane, Wash.

Signature Genomic Laboratories has leased 4,600 square feet of office space in downtown Spokane, Wash., an expansion the microarray-based cytogenetic diagnostics provider said was needed due to growth since June, when Signature relocated its headquarters and laboratory within the city to 2820 N. Astor St., an 18,500-square-foot former Sears Roebuck and Company distribution center [BRN, June 2]. 

Signature’s new space, in Schade Towers, will house Signature's finance, sales, marketing, business development and information technology departments.

 

 

Qatar Science & Technology Park, Biogem Sign Education/Research Agreement

Qatar Science & Technology Park and Biogem have signed an education and research agreement in which the Italian biotech consortium will train Qatar University students and perform joint research with the tech park on the pharmaceutical uses of desert plants and other topics.

In the first phase of the collaboration, graduate students from Qatar University will undertake a masters program in biotechnology conducted by Biogem, in a program to commence in January 2009.

In the second phase joint research projects will be established between scientists in Italy and Qatar. Projects could include studying the pharmaceutical properties of plants indigenous to Qatar such as the Sidra tree (Ziziphus spina-christi). The projects will be principally funded by QSTP.

 

 
PPD to Establish $18M Contract Research Facility in Athlone, Ireland

PPD, a contract research organization headquartered in Wilmington, NC, will open an $18 million contract research facility in Athlone, within Ireland’s County Westmeath, set to create 250 jobs over the next five years.

The facility will initially include a cGMP analytical laboratory that will conduct testing for clinical and commercial programs spanning all phases of drug development. The lab is designed to allow PPD to serve a growing customer base in Europe, Middle East and Africa.

PPD will receive an undisclosed amount of support from the Irish Government through Industrial Development Agency Ireland, the agency announced.

 

 
Vivus Renews Lease for Columbia, Md., Headquarters at an 11 Percent Discount

Vivus, a pharmaceutical company in Mountain View, Calif., has extended the lease it signed two years ago on its corporate headquarters at 1172 Castro Street, and will see its rent reduced from $1.85 per square foot to $1.64 psf — which in turn will lowering the current monthly payment from $26,338 to $23,349 starting Aug. 1 and expiring July 31, 2011, according to a company filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the Mercury News of San Jose, Calif., reported.
 

 
Hemagen Diagnostics Cuts Space in Lease Renewal for its Columbia, Md., Headquarters

Hemagen Diagnostics said in a recent filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission that it will reduce the space it uses in its Columbia, Md., facility from 27,400 square feet to 20,100 square feet by June 30, 2009, under an extended lease that runs through June 30, 2012.

The facility, at 9033 Red Branch Road, is where Hemagen maintains its principal administrative office, laboratory and production operations. Under the extended lease, Hemagen will pay about $206,000 per year in rent during its upcoming fiscal year. The company also said it has received a commitment from the landlord to subsidize $154,400 in the form of a tenant improvement allowance.

The company recently restructured its operations to focus primarily on veterinary clinical diagnostics and its Virgo human clinical diagnostic line of autoimmune and Infectious disease products.

The Scan

Interfering With Invasive Mussels

The Chicago Tribune reports that researchers are studying whether RNA interference- or CRISPR-based approaches can combat invasive freshwater mussels.

Participation Analysis

A new study finds that women tend to participate less at scientific meetings but that some changes can lead to increased involvement, the Guardian reports.

Right Whales' Decline

A research study plans to use genetic analysis to gain insight into population decline among North American right whales, according to CBC.

Science Papers Tie Rare Mutations to Short Stature, Immunodeficiency; Present Single-Cell Transcriptomics Map

In Science this week: pair of mutations in one gene uncovered in brothers with short stature and immunodeficiency, and more.