Drug Development

Booming rare disease player Shire adding a trendy new R&D hub in Kendall Square for 1,000-plus

Shire CEO Flemming Ornskov

Shire CEO Flemming Ornskov

Shire CEO Flemming Ornskov has already made it clear that he intends to make the company a leading force in rare disease drug development and marketing. Now he’s moving to also make it one of the most visible players in the field.

Ornskov has inked a lease for the 343,000-square-foot building at 500 Kendall Street, right next to the 650 Kendall Street address it already owns. The plan is to turn Genzyme’s old facility into a rare disease innovation hub with more than 1,000 staffers. And it plans to move in cross-disciplinary teams involved in research, clinical development, medical affairs, business development and more.

A Shire spokesman notes that the new hub will likely house more than 1,000 staffers, with 350 already on site in Kendall Square and room for more than 900 staffers in the soon-to-be-former Genzyme center.

Shire is still keeping its big campus in Lexington, MA, where it’s been pulling in workers from various satellite facilities since Ornskov took the helm. The company added 750 new jobs last year and has another 400 open in Massachusetts. It’s also undertaking a strategic review to consider where everyone belongs.

Kendall Square in Cambridge has become ground zero in the biotech world for innovation and new research over the past few years. Close to MIT and Harvard, pharma companies like Pfizer have been migrating into the neighborhood, adding new facilities and gleaming new labs to illustrate their commitment to the latest technologies. When George Scangos took over Biogen 6 years ago, he made the point of moving into Cambridge, where the research was, reversing the suburban shift triggered by his predecessor at the company.

For Shire, it’s a chance to glean more info while spotlighting its talent and business strategy. Shire acquired a presence in Cambridge with its buyout of Baxalta.

Staffers will start moving in in about two years.

Ornskov had this to say in a statement:

“By expanding our presence in Cambridge, with its close proximity to best-in-class hospitals, research institutions, universities and a thriving biotechnology community, we will strengthen our ties with the early innovators around us to shape the next generation of breakthrough therapies for patients with high unmet needs. These plans signify our continued growth and our deep and enduring commitment to serving patients, families and caregivers across the globe who are affected by rare diseases and highly specialized conditions.”


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