fizer and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) officially broke ground on Nov. 21 for the new location of Pfizer's Cardiovascular, Metabolic and Endocrine Diseases (CVMED) and Neuroscience research units in Cambridge.
In September, Pfizer announced it had entered into a 10-year lease agreement with MIT for more than 180,000 sq. ft. (16,722 sq. m.).
"It is welcome news that Pfizer is increasing its presence and bringing new jobs to Massachusetts," said Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. "Companies like Pfizer know that Massachusetts is unmatched when it comes to providing a high-quality work force, a high quality of life, and nation-leading investments in health care, education and innovation."
In February Pfizer announced a strategic shift in research and development, to focus the company's efforts on a smaller number of research areas where the potential for impact is greatest, including its CVMED and Neuroscience research units. As part of this shift, the company announced it would substantially boost its presence in Cambridge by moving these two important research units there.
A project press release said the relocation makes Pfizer the second largest biopharmaceutical company in Massachusetts in terms of number of employees. A report issued by MassBIO in September already had Pfizer in second place (2,600 workers) behind Genzyme, now owned by Sanofi, which employs 4,356 in the Commonwealth.
"We deliberately chose to move to Cambridge as a key part of our research and development strategy, in order to foster productive collaborations between our drug discovery experts and the outstanding scientists of Cambridge's world-class institutions," said Pfizer Worldwide R&D President Mikael Dolsten. "This is a very exciting period in Pfizer research and development during a time of great change while we strengthen our innovative core with the goal of delivering the best medicines to patients."
Pfizer plans to bring around 400 new research jobs to Cambridge. In addition to relocating key Pfizer scientists to the area, the company anticipates hiring a significant number of scientists for the two research units, including biologists, chemists and individuals with other areas of research expertise.
"Physical proximity to the medical R&D community in Massachusetts is designed to encourage frequent and meaningful relationships with leading biomedical research institutions," said Rod MacKenzie, senior vice president of Pfizer PharmaTherapeutics R&D. "By bringing together our drug discovery scientists with the best contemporary biologists and scientific minds in Cambridge, we aim to provide the most stimulating environment for our researchers to invent the next generation of medicines. Tackling the symptoms of diabetes and moving to prevention; reducing the symptoms and slowing disease progression of Alzheimer's disease; taking the control of lipids and cardiovascular risk reduction to unprecedented new levels — the opportunities to positively impact human health are endless."
Also based in the Cambridge/Boston area are Pfizer's BioTherapeutics Research & Development group and the Boston Center for Therapeutic Innovation.
While the new facility is being built, the CVMED research unit will be based in an interim space at another Pfizer location in Cambridge. The Neuroscience unit also will relocate to interim space in Cambridge in the second quarter of 2012. Pfizer will move into the new space when it is completed, which is anticipated to occur in the fourth quarter of 2013.
"Kendall Square's thriving innovation cluster makes a strong case for the creative power of proximity," said MIT President Susan Hockfield. "Pfizer has supported MIT research for more than a decade, and we are convinced that establishing their new research facility right next door will accelerate the cycle of discovery and innovation. Connecting MIT's pioneering research with Pfizer's commitment to delivering real-world solutions for patients is a potent formula for impact."
"We're thrilled to see Pfizer expand its footprint in the City of Cambridge, bringing new jobs and resources to our community," said Mayor David Maher. "We're also grateful to MIT for serving as the catalyst for this initiative and for its role in continuing to grow our innovation economy."
According to MassBIO, there were 46,553 biotechnology employees in Massachusetts as recently as 2009, and the companies employing those workers were responsible for over $4 billion of in-state payroll. The Massachusetts biopharma industry grew by 60 percent between between 2000 and 2009.
In June 2008, Gov. Patrick signed the Massachusetts Life Sciences Act, a 10-year, $1-billion initiative, which tasked the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, a quasi-public agency of the Commonwealth, with implementing the initiative. The center's mission is to create jobs in the life sciences and support vital scientific research that will improve the human condition. This work includes making financial investments in public and private institutions that are advancing life sciences research, development and commercialization as well as building ties between sectors of the Massachusetts life sciences community. As a result of these investments, Massachusetts has already created more than 1 million square feet (9,290,000 sq. m.) of new laboratory and biomanufacturing space.