Bayer cuts with one hand, adds cancer R&D jobs in Kendall Square with the other

Kendall Square
Bayer will mainly focus its R&D boost on cancer work in life sciences hub Kendall Square. (Tim Pierce/Public domain)

German pharma Bayer is looking to boost its research presence in the life science hub Kendall Square amid a 12,000 global job cull.

According to Bayer, speaking to The Boston Globe, it will “significantly expand” its presence in Kendall Square from its current 20 employees in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to an extra 150 within three years.

“They will work in a 12-story building that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has started constructing on Main Street, and will focus on developing cancer treatments,” the Globe said, with the company spending about $200 million.

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Around half of the new staffers will be researchers focused on targeted therapies to prevent cancer cells from proliferating, with the vast majority being hired from the local area.

Bayer’s pipeline currently includes early work on a follow-up to its and Loxo Oncology's work on a “tissue agnostic” cancer drug, which gained U.S. approval last year, with positive data out at the AACR cancer conference last month.

Its later-stage oncology efforts include a PI3K inhibitor in blood cancer and darolutamide for prostate cancer. It’s also targeting kidney disease and uterine fibroids, as well as working on expanding its Xarelto heart drug brand, in phase 3 tests. Most of its cancer pipeline is in phase 1.

Bayer has only had a small presence in what has become the spiritual home of life science R&D in the U.S. But over the years, the company has penned deals and joint ventures with small startups, including its 2016 Casebia Therapeutics, formed by Bayer and CRISPR Therapeutics, which aims to cure blood disorders, blindness and congenital heart disease. It has a base at Kendall Square.

The move comes as Bayer looks more to the U.S. and outside its native Germany for R&D work.

RELATED: Amid worldwide cutbacks, Bayer to shutter Pennsylvania site, cut loose 600-plus workers

The hand that giveth, also taketh away: Bayer recently announced it was culling a massive 12,000 roles from across its global ops, including manufacturing, logistics, IT and support roles.

It’s also sharpened the ax for R&D, cutting 900 jobs last year out of its total 8,000, as it refocused on its “core” pharmaceuticals business.

The German chemical and drug manufacturer is also hiving off its animal health business, getting rid of part of its consumer health franchise—along with 1,100 jobs in the sector—and squeezing out 4,100 crop science positions as it integrates its newly acquired Monsanto operations.

Bayer initiated the overhaul amid investor concerns that the animal health franchise is pulling back its stock valuation. In addition, the gigantic Monsanto acquisition also means it doesn’t have enough resources to grow an unexciting pharma pipeline.

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