Fierce Biotech Layoff Tracker 2024: Ikena cuts half of workforce; Barinthus lays off 25%

We really didn't want to have to create another Layoff Tracker this year. But here we are, launching the third annual iteration tracking industry layoffs. 

Last year, we tallied 187 total layoffs among biotech companies, a 57% jump compared to 119 in 2022. We hope that trend reverses itself in 2024.

As always, if you know of a layoff occurring at a biotech, please reach out to the Fierce Biotech editorial team and let us know. 

June—1 company

June 13 - Barinthus Biotherapeutics: Formerly known as Vaccitech, the U.K.-based company is restructuring its pipeline and reducing its workforce by 25%. Story


May—20 companies

May 29 - Ikena Oncology: The biotech is cutting one of two assets and laying off more than half of its workforce, or about 18 people. The move comes after January cuts saw 35% of the workforce let go. Story

May 28 - Takeda: After announcing a $900 million restructuring effort, the pharma has unveiled more layoff plans, this time for hundreds of workers across two sites in Massachusetts. The pharma will be cutting 495 staffers at its U.S. headquarters in Cambridge and 146 at its Lexington campus, according to a WARN notice. Story

May 21 - Lyra Therapeutics: The biotech is laying off 87 employees, including Chief Technology Officer John Bishop, Ph.D. The layoffs are effective today for 80 people and on June 20 for the remaining seven. Story

May 21 - Exscientia: The AI drug hunter is initiating “efficiency measures” to save cash, which includes a workforce reduction expected to impact between 20% and 25% of staff by the end of this year. Story  

May 20 - BIO: The biotech advocacy organization is implementing a "strategic plan" that includes laying off 30 people, according to an emailed statement from President and CEO John Crowley. The restructure is designed to "bring stronger focus and greater impact in everything we do," Crowley said. 

May 17 - Erasca: The San Diego-based biotech, which focuses on treatments for cancers driven by the RAS/MAPK pathway, is clearing space in its own pipeline and laying off 18% of its employees. Most of the affected roles are located in drug discovery functions or the programs being deprioritized. Story

May 16 - Akari Therapeutics: The biotech is implementing a 67% workforce reduction in efforts to reduce operating costs. Part of the restructuring plan includes eliminating certain undisclosed senior management positions. Release

May 15 - BioMarin: After sharing plans to slash several pipeline programs, BioMarin has confirmed that 170 employees are also leaving as part of the R&D restructure. The job cuts represent around 5% of the company’s workforce, a BioMarin spokesperson told Fierce Biotech via email. The layoffs are slated to be complete by the end of July. Story

May 15 - Tenaya Therapeutics: Heart disease-focused Tenaya is implementing “cost-containment measures” designed to fund clinical readouts for two lead gene therapies. As a result, the biotech is cutting down its workforce by 22%, with the changes due to be completed in the coming weeks. Story

May 15 - Bolt Biotherapeutics: The oncology biotech is laying off around 50% of staff tied to a “strategic refocusing” that will also see the company halt development of its phase 2 immune-stimulating antibody conjugate. The changes reach all the way to the top, with CEO Randall Schatzman and Chief Medical Officer Edith Perez, M.D., being moved to “advisory roles.” Story

May 15 - Trevena: The CNS disorder-focused biotech has implemented a 35% workforce reduction since the end of 2023. The company is also continuing a strategic review of options for Olinvyk, an opioid agonist injection approved for adults with acute pain. Release

May 14 - Bayer: German pharma Bayer is cutting 1,500 jobs across the company. Trickles of layoffs began earlier this year after CEO Bill Anderson looked to slash managerial roles to lessen bureaucracy. Story

May 13 - Takeda: Amid a multi-year reorganization program, Takeda has told employees it will be shuttering a research site in San Diego, a company spokesperson told Fierce Biotech via email. About 340 full-time employees currently work at the San Diego center, though some roles may also be moved to other Takeda research locations, including in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The spokesperson said the pharma is encouraging employees to apply for these positions, which would include relocation support.  

May 9 - Ginkgo Bioworks: After “disappointing” first-quarter revenues, Ginkgo is accelerating plans to break even by the end of 2026, and is now setting its sights on reducing operating costs by $200 million by the middle of next year. A key part of this program will be a “reduction in labor expenses of at least 25%, across both G&A and R&D functions,” the company explained in an earnings report. While this will include a “reduction in force,” the company did not put a figure on how many employees would be impacted. Release

May 9 - Pfizer: The pharma, which completed its $43 billion buyout of ADC specialist Seagen in December, has made the “difficult decision” to propose another round of staff reductions and role changes at the newly acquired company, a Pfizer spokesperson said. This time, the proposal will hit Seagen’s European headquarters in Switzerland, where 74 positions could be up for the chop. More jobs could be on the line if Pfizer isn’t able to transfer an additional 21 employees into new roles. Story

May 8 - Marinus: As part of a wider cost-cutting plan, the Pennsylvania is jettisoning a fifth of its workforce. The company also mentioned “additional cost reductions across both R&D and general and administrative functions." Story

May 7 - Kenvue: The company's board of directors approved a plan to cut 4% of its global workforce as a “transition service agreement” with J&J winds down. The company employed about 23,000 employees at the end of last year, so the layoff initiative could affect some 920 workers. Story 

May 3 - Gilead: The big pharma is cutting 58 roles at a Foster City, California site, according to a WARN report. The layoffs are slated to be complete by June 28, according to the report. "While our business continues to perform well, we continue to assess where and how we’re best organized to support the growth of the business," a Gilead spokesperson told Fierce Biotech. 

May 2 - Chroma Medicine: The Boston-based biotech working to develop epigenetic medicines has laid off an undisclosed number of staffers. Roles affected included some general & administrative and R&D positions, a company spokesperson told Fierce via email. The preclinical company is now focused on advancing some of its programs to the clinic, the spokesperson said.

May 1 - Emergent BioSolutions: About two months into his CEO job at the CDMO-turned-biopharma company, Joseph Papa has laid out his turnaround plan that includes reducing the current workforce by about 300 employees. The company is also shuttering its Baltimore-Bayview drug substance manufacturing facility and its Rockville drug product facility, both of which are located in Maryland. Story


April—12 companies

April 23 - Bristol Myers Squibb: The big pharma plans to cut costs by $1.5 billion by the end of 2025 in a massive restructure that includes laying off about 2,200 employees. Story

April 23 - Tessera Therapeutics: About 13-14% of employees, or 50 people are being let go from Tessera as the biotech shifts from preclinical to clinical development. "As a result of positive data from our preclinical programs, we have reached an inflection point where we need to rebalance the resources of our organization to prioritize and grow our clinical development efforts in anticipation of advancing multiple candidates into the clinic," the company said in an April 24 statement. 

April 23 - BenevolentAI: Eleven months after restructuring, the AI-enabled drug developer is pulling another pivot, axing plans to launch software products, laying off another 30% of staff and closing its U.S. office. Story

April 19 - Sanofi: The pharma's global restructuring is underway, with layoffs stretching to Sanofi’s Belgian offices. Sixty-seven employees were laid off at a site in Ghent, while 32 jobs are on the chopping block at Sanofi’s Belgium HQ in Diegem, a company spokesperson confirmed. Story

April 17 - Ultimovacs: The Norwegian biotech has revealed that 40% of staff will be jettisoned to keep the company afloat next year The move comes after a trial flop assessing the effect of UV1, a candidate designed to induce a T-cell response against an enzyme that is active in most cancer cells, among patients with melanoma. Story

April 16 - Vedanta Biosciences: Microbiome biotech Vedanta is cutting roughly 24 jobs, including 12 employees in the CMC team. CEO Bernat Olle wrote on LinkedIn that the company was "coming off a peak of manufacturing campaigns that supplied several mid and late-stage clinical studies in our pipeline." Post

April 10 - Genentech: Genentech is trimming roughly 3% of its workforce across "several departments," a spokesperson confirmed, after the layoffs were first reported by Endpoints News. The larger biotech's parent company Roche announced cuts to its product development team earlier this year. According to a California WARN notice, 436 employees will be impacted.

April 9 - Novartis: The Big Pharma has revealed plans to shake up its global development group over the next few years, with intentions to cut around 440 development positions in Switzerland, plus up to 240 roles in the U.S., a spokesperson said. Story

April 5 - Sanofi: The pharma is setting out plans for a new "simplified R&D structure" that zooms in on immunology and means an undisclosed number of staffers will be losing their jobs. A Sanofi spokesperson declined to disclose to Fierce about how many employees will be impacted in total, restating that prioritizing immunology, “means that we are reallocating and refocusing resources to accelerate our investments in programs with high potential.” Story

April 5 - Boehringer Ingelheim: Since the pharma's Humira biosimilar—dubbed Cyltezo—has struggled to gain traction, Boehringer is pruning its ranks. The company has revealed plans to lay off an unknown number of staffers from its customer-facing teams for Cyltezo as part of a pivot toward a hybrid in-person and virtual sales model by June 30. Story

April 4 - Amylyx Pharmaceuticals: After Relyvrio failed a confirmatory trial, Amylyx has pulled the ALS therapy off the market and is laying off about 70% of staff. As of the end of 2023, Amylyx had 384 full-time employees, according to an annual securities filing. The cuts will leave the company with about 100 remaining workers. Story

April 1 - Carisma Therapeutics: The immunotherapy-focused biotech plans to let go of 37% of staffers and drop one of two clinical assets in an effort to stretch its cash into the third quarter of 2025. The layoffs follow a reverse merger with Sesen Bio in March 2023, a move that increased Carisma's personnel costs. Story

March—18 companies

March 29 - Mustang Bio: Cell therapy-focused Mustang has laid off an undisclosed number of workers. The company declined to disclose how many employees would be impacted, with CEO Manuel Litchman, M.D., telling Fierce Biotech in a statement that "Mustang cannot comment on the size of the reduction in force." The biotech announced recently that, like its peers in the space, it would explore testing one of its assets as a treatment for autoimmune diseases. According to a Massachusetts WARN notice filed April 16, the company laid off 47 people.

March 28 - Omega Therapeutics: The mRNA-focused company is laying off 35% of its workforce as part of a "cost reduction and strategic prioritization initiative." Omega will also focus resources on certain preclinical programs including OTX-2101 for non-small cell lung cancer, its HNF4A program in liver regeneration, and an epigenomic controller for obesity in collaboration with Novo Nordisk. Release

March 28 - Xilio: The biotech may have secured $43.5 million from Gilead for the license to a tumor-activated IL-12, but Xilio also let go of 15 employees on the same day. The decision to reduce its workforce by 21% was a response to the biotech's narrowing focus, having handed over one IL-12 drug to Gilead and halting monotherapy development of another. Story

March 27 - AlmataBio: Avalo Therapeutics agreed to hand over $22 million in stock and cash to acquire AlmataBio, but Avalo only has eyes for Almata's anti-IL-1β monoclonal antibody AVTX-009. As a result, none of Almata's employees will be keeping their job under the new owner. Story

March 27 - Bayer: The pharma will lay off 90 employees working at the company's U.S. headquarters in Whippany, New Jersey. The cuts, which are effective on June 19, were revealed in a New Jersey WARN notice and confirmed by Bayer over email. Story

March 26 - Bristol Myers Squibb: Two months after closing its multibillion-dollar acquisition of Mirati Therapeutics, BMS is bidding adieu to 252 workers at the biotech's headquarters in California. Story

March 22 - GSK: After GSK’s $2 billion buyout of Canada-based Bellus Health last summer, an undisclosed number of the biotech’s team members are out of a job. While it’s unclear how many Bellus staff members will lose their jobs, former Bellus CEO Roberto Bellini wrote, “After having completed the transition activities linked to the GSK acquisition, most Bellus Health employees will be wrapping up their involvement with the company on March 31,” in a March 21 LinkedIn post. Story

March 21 - NextCure: The cancer biotech says it laid off 37% of the team in the first quarter and paused internal manufacturing to help save money. The company expects to pay $800,000 in severance and other benefits plus termination fees. Filing

March 19 - CureVac: A company spokesperson confirmed that about 150 employees have agreed to a voluntary exit as the mRNA biotech cuts costs. The job losses stem from the company pivoting away from developing a COVID-19 vaccine. The news was first reported by German news outlet SWR.  

March 14 - Spruce Biosciences: In the wake of a phase 2 trial for the biotech's only drug candidate, Spruce is sending 21% of staffers extend its cash runway through the end of 2025. Story

March 13 - Sangamo Therapeutics: The California-based biotech is winding down French research and manufacturing operations, a move that also means all 93 job positions in France will be eliminated. The move aligns with the company's shift away from CAR-Treg cell therapy programs, with the shutdown anticipated to begin in April and wrap up by the end of 2024. Release

March 13 - Coherus BioSciences: About a year after launching a prior round of layoffs, Coherus is again reducing its head count, this time by 30%. The latest round of cuts started March 7 and are expected to be complete by the end of the year and save more than $25 million in annual costs. Story

March 13 - Takeda: After an unsuccessful attempt to sell an Austrian manufacturing and development site, Takeda is calling it quits on much of the operations at the facility. The Japan-based company is shutting down production and R&D operations at its AAV gene therapy plant in Austria, with 190 employees set to lose their jobs. Story

March 8 - Kronos Bio: The biotech has made its second round of layoffs in five months, with another fifth of its workforce heading to the exits. Laying off 21% of staff will help extend Kronos' cash runway into the second half of 2026, the company said. Story

March 5 - Meissa Vaccines: RSV-focused Meissa is halting development activities and laying off an undisclosed number of workers given the current fundraising environment, the company told Fierce Biotech. Story

March 5 - Sumitomo Pharma: Hundreds of layoffs last summer weren't enough to stem the tide, with the Japanese drugmaker letting go of 400 staffers this month. The cuts at Sumitomo Pharma America come amid a “severe business environment” and are part of an effort to boost organizational efficiency and streamline operations. Story

March 4 - Arrakis Therapeutics: The RNA-focused biotech is laying off 20% of staff, with 71 employees remaining after the cuts are implemented, an Arrakis spokesperson told Fierce Biotech.

March 1 - Moderna: The big biotech is laying off employees within its manufacturing unit, with the move tied to a resizing of its COVID production work. The Moderna rep declined to say how many employees would be affected. Story


February—16 companies

February 29 - Gritstone Bio: The biotech is laying off 40% of employees after delaying the start of a phase 2 trial testing its COVID-19 vaccine, which in turn pushed back the receipt of federal funds. Story

February 29 - Kineta: After a strategic review, the small oncology biotech is conducting a corporate restructuring and reducing its workforce by 64%, or seven positions, including CEO Shawn Iadonato, Ph.D. Story

February 28 - Johnson & Johnson: The pharma is closing a nearly 200,000 square-foot R&D outpost in Brisbane, California, less than 18 months after it opened. In conjunction with the closure, the company has implemented 55 permanent layoffs that will go into effect by April 26. Story

February 28 - ObsEva: With its money and options dwindling, ObsEva has finally decided to wind down operations and lay off all employees. Story

February 28 - Nicox: The ophthalmology biotech has agreed to an amendment to the repayment of a $14.5 million debt with Kreos Capital, which will extend the company’s cash runway to November. But, to secure this deal, Nicox had to agree to “reduce its operations in France and Italy” as well as cut operating costs and restructure the company. Story

February 28 - Longeveron: The regenerative medicine biotech is discontinuing a phase 2 trial of its lead candidate Lomecel-B in aging-related frailty in Japan, a move that will result in “related staff reductions” that the company listed as part of “cost-saving measures.” Story

February 26 - Denali Therapeutics: The biotech is reorganizing, laying off an undisclosed number of workers and sending some to a new spin-out. A company spokesperson said the workforce reduction was “considerably less than 10%” of the total team. Story

February 20 - Ring Therapeutics: A Flagship Pioneering spokesperson confirmed that Ring Therapeutics laid off 19 employees, representing less than 20% of the company. The news came days after another fellow Flagship biotech, Sonata Therapeutics, confirmed cutting costs as well. 

February 16 - Clade Therapeutics: Cell therapy biotech Clade recently laid off employees, Chief Business Officer and co-founder Jim Glasheen, Ph.D., said in LinkedIn post. The company declined to comment further when asked. LinkedIn

February 16 - Sonata Therapeutics: Sonata Therapeutics, part of the Flagship Pioneering ecosystem, has laid off 21 employees, or roughly a third of employees, a spokesperson confirmed. The cuts are a result of the company refocusing its strategy "around its most immediate priorities" and were first reported by STAT News. 

February 15 - Aurinia Pharmaceuticals: After failing to attract a buyer, the biotech has resorted to trimming its workforce by 25% and cleaning out its R&D pipeline. Aurinia said the layoffs won't affect commercial or commercial-supporting roles. Story

February 13 - LianBio: The Chinese company has become the latest biotech to throw in the towel, with a prolonged dissolution expected closer to 2027. The biotech anticipates laying off 50 full-time employees—half of its staff—by the end of March, with “additional workforce reductions” due to occur during the year. Story

February 9 - Roche: The Swiss drug developer plans to lay off a few hundred people in its product development team. Roche says it expects “the majority of the proposed headcount reduction to impact external contractors,” with less than 6% of the permanent product development team potentially impacted. Story

February 9 - Synlogic: The Massachusetts-based biotech is discontinuing a pivotal phase 3 trial, shuttering operations and laying off more than 90% of its workforce as it undergoes a strategic review. Story

February 8 - Sandoz: 20 years ago, Sandoz carved out a sizable generics foothold through dual mergers with Germany's Hexal and U.S.-based Eon Labs. Now, the Swiss manufacturing giant is permanently closing one of the latter company's main facilities in Wilson, North Carolina, with 213 employees set to be laid off by Oct. 4. Story

February 6 - Rallybio: The biotech is parting ways with 45% of its staff, or 19 employees, and focusing on its two phase 2-ready programs to extend its cash runway into the middle of 2026. Story


January—24 companies

January 31 - Xencor: The California-based biotech has undergone a 10% workforce reduction impacting 25 positions, a company spokesperson confirmed with Fierce Biotech. The company is focusing more intently on high potential T cell engagers and narrow evaluation for its investigational dual checkpoint inhibitor, dubbed vudalimab, according to the spokesperson.

January 31 - Rakuten Medical: Oncology biotech Rakuten has made an undisclosed number of workforce cuts, a company spokesperson confirmed with Fierce Biotech.

January 31 - Atara Biotherapeutics: After a phase 2 flop late last year, the allogeneic T-cell company has undergone two layoff rounds, most recently sending 25% of staff and Chief Medical Officer Manher (AJ) Joshi, M.D., out the door. The January workforce reduction equates to 44 people and follows a layoff round that included 73 staffers in December 2023. Story

January 30 - 2seventy bio: The cell therapy company is offloading pre-clinical and clinical cell therapy programs to Regeneron to form a new unit, sending 160 employees over to Regeneron. The remaining workforce, which will focus on approved med Abecma, will be downsized to only 65 employees, with about 55 people laid off. Story

January 29 - Pfizer: After announcing 285 job cuts at a New York R&D site earlier this month, the Big Pharma is expecting more layoffs, this time for 52 employees at a facility in South San Francisco, according to a WARN report. Story

January 29 - Hookipa Pharma: After Roche ended an alliance with Hookipa, the company has chosen to lay off 30% (about 55 people) of its workforce and focus on a slimmed-down list of candidates. Story

January 26 - Strand Therapeutics: The programmable mRNA biotech is letting go 18% of staff, according to a company LinkedIn post. The cuts are being made so Strand can continue investing in its discovery programs and move forward with its first clinical trial, according to the company. Release

January 22 - Cara Therapeutics: The pruritus-focused drug developer is l​​​​​aying off up to half of its staff as it narrows its clinical ambitions. The restructuring will extend Cara's cash runway into 2026. Story

January 19 - Ikena Oncology: Looking to stretch its $175 million cash pile into the second half of 2026, the biotech is laying off around 20 people. The 35% headcount reduction will mainly affect drug discovery positions and will leave Ikena with around 37 full-time employees. Story

January 19 - PMV Pharma: The precision oncology biotech is laying off 30% of staff as it prioritizes pushing its lead solid tumor candidate toward a phase 2 trial in the coming months. Story

January 18 - Bayer: The German pharma is launching a sweeping business overhaul that will “come at the expense of many managerial employees,” according to chairwoman of the executives committee on Bayer’s supervisory board, Barbara Gansewend. The cuts will begin in the coming months and will end in 2025, the company said without providing a specific number of roles impacted. Story

January 17 - Dewpoint Therapeutics: Condensate-focused Dewpoint Therapeutics has laid off 18 employees and narrowed its pipeline following two lost pharma collaborations. Pfizer and Merck both moved on from partnered programs but the biotech is pressing forward with its lead asset, set to enter the clinic in the first half of 2025. Story

January 16 - Allakos: Allakos' decision to ax its lead asset came at the cost of substantial human capital, with the biotech laying off half its staff. The final nails in the coffin for lirentelimab were two midstage failures in patients with eczema and chronic spontaneous urticaria. Story

January 10 - C4 Therapeutics: Two months after discontinuing one of its cancer assets, the small molecule medicines biotech has revealed a 30% workforce reduction, impacting a total of 45 positions. Story

January 8 - Affimed: Affimed is dissolving its research and preclinical development teams, cutting 50% of its staff as a result. The company says all funds will go toward its clinical-stage programs, which include a package of innate cell engages. Release

January 8 - Exelixis: Around 175 Exelixis employees are heading for the exits in the coming months, a workforce reduction that represents 13% of the company's total workforce. Story

January 8 - Organon: In the fourth quarter of 2023, Organon implemented restructuring activities across certain markets and functions which impacted about 3% of employees, a company spokesperson told Fierce Biotech via email on Jan. 8. 

January 5 - Allogene: Off-the-shelf cell therapy biotech Allogene laid off 22% of its employees as part of a clinical reshuffling that now has the company focused on first-line lymphoma patients who have minimal residual disease following six cycles of chemotherapy. The layoffs are expected to cost the company between $5-5.5 million in severance payments and benefits. Disclosure

January 5 - NanoString Technologies: To cut costs, the company is laying off about 50 employees, representing 9% of its global workforce. The workforce reduction is expected to be complete by March 31. Release

January 5 - Senti Bio: The cell and gene therapy biotech is cutting its workforce down by 37% and prioritizing resources on SENTI-202, an off-the-shelf CAR-NK candidate being tested for the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia and other hematologic malignancies in a phase 1 clinical trial, with the first patient expected to be dosed in the second quarter of this year. Release

January 5 - AlloVir: Less than a month after suffering a triple phase 3 failure, the allogeneic T cell immunotherapy biotech is cutting 95% of its workforce. The cuts are expected to take place mostly in the first quarter of this year and finish up by Apr. 15. Story

January 4 - Aera Therapeutics: The genetic medicine company has laid off a quarter of its staff. The biotech only just emerged from stealth a year ago in February 2023 with $193 million. Story

January 4 - Intellia Therapeutics: The CRISPR company is laying off 15% of its team after pausing exploratory research work. Story

January 4 - Pfizer: The Big Pharma's vaccine R&D site in Pearl River, NY is expecting to lay off 285 employees starting in February, according to a New York WARN notice. The spot is one of Pfizer’s nine major R&D sites and currently employs 1,012 workers. The layoff wave is set to conclude by March 25. Release