Eli Lilly to shutter neuroscience R&D center next year

Lilly
Eli Lilly's operations out of Erl Wood in the U.K. will be wound up in 2020. (Eli Lilly/LinkedIn)

Eli Lilly is closing down its U.K.-based Erl Wood neuroscience center in Surrey, leading to cuts and relocations.

According to a local report from the Basingstoke Gazette, and confimed to FierceBiotech, the research house will be closed by the end of 2020, seeing around 80 redundancies from the neuroscience unit.

In total, around 270 employees will be hit, with two-thirds of staff moving over to “a new location within the local area” while neuroscience research will move over to its home in the U.S., according to the company, which spoke to the Gazette.

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The company added that this comes “as part of a global review of research operations” and off the back of years of on and off cuts from the Big Pharma.

Lilly told FierceBiotech in a statement that over time, Lilly “has made a number of strategic choices to consolidate research operations around the world into global hubs. Overall, this has resulted in there being fewer than 45 neuroscience researchers, supported by approximately 35 chemistry researchers, working at the company’s UK research site today.”

The company added: “Today, Lilly is announcing a proposal to consolidate laboratory-based UK research efforts to other global centres to further enable transformation which aims to deliver medicines from the lab to patients faster. This would include: Relocating neuroscience research to Lilly’s expanding site in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Lilly maintains a hub specialising in the application of novel technologies including siRNA and gene therapy; Relocating a small number of roles to Lilly’s research centre in Indianapolis; Rebalancing and consolidating chemistry capabilities around the world."

Lilly said it would retain “a small number of bioinformatics and neuroscience roles in the UK to focus on expanding external R&D collaboration with the UK and EU science community,” and continue to undertake research collaborations and partnership activity in the U.K. with academia, the NHS and biotechs.

“Under the plans, non-laboratory based employees would move to a new site within the local area. Lilly will now launch a formal consultation with employees and will be focused on ensuringevery employee is treated with dignity and respect throughout this period of change.”

There are no changes being announced to Lilly’s commercial infrastructure, based in Basingstoke, and the company “will retain core clinical and regulatory functions in the U.K.”

It also pointed out that this was not down to Brexit.

Tim Garnett, chief medical officer at Lilly, said: “I know that this proposal will be difficult news for many working for Lilly in the UK. Our dedicated teams have delivered world-class research from Erl Wood for the last 50 years. They are some of the most talented people in the industry and this proposal is not a reflection on their hard work or skill.”

He added: “Our focus now is on supporting our people and treating them with the dignity and respect they deserve. We will now enter a formal consultation with all the employees potentially affected.”

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