GSK preps for vaccine R&D expansion, 200 hires for new global hub

A year and a half after GlaxoSmithKline set in motion its big flip with Novartis, trading cancer drugs for vaccines, the UK pharma giant has followed through on plans to create a global vaccine R&D center in Rockville, MD, well within the orbit of the NIH and FDA regulators.

This new facility comes with the latest in vaccine tech, says GSK, and will house up to 450 scientists when it’s fully operational. Getting there will take another $50 million investment over the next two years, along with some 200 new hires.

GSK has two other vaccine R&D centers in operation in Rixensart, Belgium and in Siena, Italy. It plans to pursue a dozen different programs in Rockville, including seeing through its recently filed shingles vaccine along with work on dengue fever, RSV and Group B Streptococcus.

GSK got the site four years ago in its largely unsuccessful acquisition of Human Genome Sciences. This latest project is part of a two-year-old reorganization of GSK’s R&D ops, which has seen its once thriving R&D center in Research Triangle Park shrink dramatically as it scaled back.

That big overhaul triggered a series of subsequent moves, including a decision to invest $250 million into new research facilities near Philadelphia, which has become one of two big drug research centers alongside Stevenage in the UK.

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