Pfizer inks deal with MIT for 180K feet of lab space

Pfizer ($PFE) is further boosting its presence in biotech-rich hubs. The drug giant has struck a 10-year lease agreement with MIT for 180,000 square feet of research space in a planned facility in Kendall Square near Boston. The news follows the drugmaker's $100 million expansion announced this summer in San Francisco's Mission Bay.

Even larger than the Mission Bay project, where the company has committed to employing 40 scientists, the planned Kendall Square facility is expected to attract nearly 400 workers and house two Pfizer research units--the cardiovascular, metabolic and endocrine disease group and the neuroscience group. Shovels are hitting the ground on a new building next month, according to MIT, and Pfizer is expected to move into the facility in late 2013.

While Pfizer plans projects around Boston and the Bay Area, the Big Pharma outfit has been downsizing its R&D budget, which came in at $9.4 billion last year. The cuts have come at the expense of jobs at sites such as its Groton, CT, operations and its Sandwich, U.K. facility, which Pfizer said it was shuttering back in February. Wall Street has generally approved of the cutbacks, but the moves have sent many scientists looking for jobs.

"We were very deliberate in our choice to move to Cambridge, MA as a key part of our R&D strategy," said Rod MacKenzie, Pfizer's senior VP and head of pharma therapeutics R&D. "By expanding our presence in one of the world's great centers of scientific and medical innovation, we will provide the best environment for our researchers to invent the next generation of medicines in areas of greatest need, such as Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. "

Pfizer, which expanded in the Boston area when it gobbled up Wyeth in 2009 for $68 billion, had some 2,300 workers at a pair of labs in Cambridge and a production facility in Andover, MA, as of early this year, the Boston Globe reported.

- check out the Pfizer release
- here's MIT's report
- see the Globe's report