Eli Lilly is expanding R&D ops in San Diego, adding 130 researchers

Eli Lilly's Thomas Bumol

After eking out a tiny gain in revenue for the second quarter, Eli Lilly ($LLY) is in an expansive mood. The Indianapolis-based pharma giant outlined plans today to boost its R&D presence in the San Diego hub, more than doubling its space and adding up to 130 researchers with a big focus on immunology.

By next year Lilly says that it will add 175,00 square feet of space to the Lilly Biotechnology Center. Lilly, which has concentrated a considerable amount of its efforts in its home base of Indianapolis, arrived in San Diego 11 years ago with the acquisition of Applied Molecular Evolution.

Now the company says you can expect to see more collaborative work underway as the company adds new expertise in discovery chemistry, research tech and biotech. The Lilly Biotechnology Center was established in 2009 near the University of California, San Diego, which has been a linchpin for the biotech industry in the region.

Lilly has been investing heavily in its late-stage immunology pipeline. Its IL-17 antibody ixekizumab figures heavily in its plans for more near-term drug approvals after posting promising results for psoriasis. But the drug will face a competitive field, as rival giants advance their own drugs. It also has high hopes for the late-stage rheumatoid arthritis drug baricitinib, which is partnered with Incyte.

San Diego "is a global hub for biomedical research and talent, where collaboration between academic institutions and biotechnology thrives," said Thomas Bumol, senior vice president, biotechnology and immunology research at Lilly, in a statement. "We want to build on our success in San Diego through expanded collaborations that ultimately allow us to bring better medicines to people faster than ever before."

Lilly badly wants to become a growth story again after years of seeing generic competition erode its financial performance. Lilly has scored a slate of new drug approvals, but the jury is still out over just how much they'll be able to bring in in peak sales. The company recently gained a positive review from outside experts at the FDA, who supported approval for necitumumab, another cancer drug that offers marginal improvements in survival times and a host of serious side effects.

- here's the release