Boston scores R&D coup with Merck KGaA's new hub

While some of its pharma competition has been downsizing the R&D side of the business, Merck KGaA has been adding to its research division. The German pharma company has opened a new $65 million facility in Billerica, MA, which is now one of four main research hubs scattered around the globe.

Merck built a 140,000-square-foot R&D center next to another facility it already owns in Billerica and plans to hire about 100 new workers, beefing up its scientific staff to 200. The team is charged with the discovery and development of new therapies for cancer, neurodegenerative diseases and infertility.

The new site is another coup for the Boston area, which has become a magnet for drug developers keen to tap the growing scientific expertise in the area. Sanofi-Aventis, Pfizer and others have been adding to their R&D ops in Boston even as they cut staff and facilities in other parts of the globe. The Merck KGaA center will cater to experts in cancer biology, cancer immunotherapy, oncogene signaling, medicinal chemistry, molecular modeling, protein engineering, therapeutic antibodies and manufacturing cell lines.

"Today is a day to embrace the accomplishments that come from our work force," said EMD Serono CEO Fereydoun Firouz. "We challenge ourselves every day and through that passion and perseverance, we have the ability to transform science and medicine." Its other research hubs are in Germany, Switzerland and China.

- read the announcement from Merck