Pfizer to move hundreds of workers to heart of Boston-area R&D hub

There's Cambridge, and then there's Kendall Square, arguably the heart of all biotech activity in the Boston area. And Pfizer ($PFE) plans to relocate most of its 530 employees from its operations in the Alewife section of Cambridge closer to where about 400 of the pharma giant's employees are working in Kendall Square, The Boston Globe reported.

Pfizer has made its interest in Cambridge known for some time. The company is mounting efforts to literally crush its R&D presence in Groton, CT, and wind down other operations while looking to occupy more space and add workers in Kendall Square, which is home to the prolific bio labs of MIT and Harvard investigators as well as a slew of biotech companies such as the R&D base of Biogen Idec ($BIIB) and Novartis ($NVS).

Biopharma companies have flocked to Kendall for a variety of reasons, including proximity to scientific experts and a wealth of top-tier talent from nearby companies and university campuses. For Pfizer, even Alewife in the northern part of the city isn't close enough to the action. As the Globe reports, the drugmaker aims to sell or sublease buildings in Cambridge that fall outside of the Kendall area, including three in Alewife.

Pfizer plans to move the Alewife workers over to Kendall next year in an effort to put its R&D staffers in one general area and trigger the kind of collaborative activity that generates returns in biotech.

Plans for the move come amid an uptick in R&D successes at the company. This week the company scored a coveted "Breakthrough Therapy" designation from the FDA for its experimental cancer drug palbociclib. And last year the company picked up 5 approvals from the agency, including green lights to market the potential blockbusters Xeljanz for rheumatoid arthritis and Eliquis, a next-gen blood thinner.

Yet Pfizer has also been downsizing overall R&D, costing thousands of researchers their jobs. Here's what a company spokeswoman tells the Globe about the impact of the planned move to Kendall: "We expect that there will be minimal impact to the size of Pfizer's workforce in the state of Massachusetts, given that most colleagues will be moving to other Pfizer sites or leased space in Massachusetts."

- check out the Globe article