Novartis to build new research facility in Bay State

By Mark A. DeSorbo

BASEL, SWITZERLAND-When it is all said and done, Novartis AG (Basel, Switzerland) will have dedicated a significant amount of cleanroom space to the 255,000-square-foot global research center it is fashioning from a building in Cambridge, MA.

“We'll have cell-culturing and animal rooms, so we'll need a high level of clean air, and if we're conducting anti-infective or viral research, we will most certainly need to have the appropriate cleanrooms,” says Paul Herrling, head of global research for Novartis, maker of cancer and hypertension therapies. “As we recruit scientists, we will determine what diseases we will tackle and that will determine what level of cleanrooms we will have.”

The $250 million facility will also employ about 400 scientists. It would then eventually expand to employ 900, Herrling says.

The new facility, located near the campuses of Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will allow the company to conduct worldwide re search programs in the United States, Europe and Japan from Cambridge.

“When you look at the map of our research centers, we have our major facility in Basel. We have one in London, and in the United States, we have the New Jersey and the new California research facility, which has just been completed,” Herrling says. “We did not have one in the Northeast, and as we thought about growth, we thought about expanding one of our existing or building a new facility.”

Novartis AG (Basel, Switzerland) will use this building, near Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to build a 255,000-square-foot research center that will employ 900 scientists.
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They decided to settle in Cambridge because of the number of research hospitals as well as all the colleges and universities that make up this rich pharmaceutical and biotechnology landscape.

“These were a few of the ideas in this strategy,” Herrling adds. “We also wanted to be in walking distance of all the coffee shops, where all the other scientists meet.”

In welcoming Novartis to the “biotechnology state,” U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy, D-MA, says Novartis will be a significant new resource for the city of Cambridge, and for the Com monwealth of Massachusetts.

“Novartis's strong desire to be in Cambridge further strengthens Kendall Square as being the epicenter of the biotech world,” he adds.

Novartis is not the only pharmaceutical company building in Boston, however.

Last October, Merck & Co. Inc. (White house Station, NJ) broke ground on a 300,000-square-foot facility on the Emmanuel College campus in Boston's Fenway neighborhood.

Slated to open in early 2004, Merck Re search Laboratories-Boston, the company's first facility in Boston, will be devoted to drug discovery. The building, the result of a partnership between Merck and Emmanuel College, will have 12 stories above and six stories below ground. It will house approximately 300 scientists, plus support and administrative staff. The new facility's appearance, with a glass facade, will blend aspects of both university laboratory research and local architectural culture that are consistent with the charm and tradition of Emmanuel College and the surrounding neighborhood, which features Fenway Park.



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