Glaxo decides bigger is better for cancer research

Late last week GlaxoSmithKline announced a newly re-engineered program for cancer R&D. The pharma giant had long separated discovery from clinical trial work. But now the two arms will be joined into a single division with some 1,000 people involved.

Glaxo is particularly interested in improving the level of communication between the clinicians, who often make important discoveries related to genetics and biomarkers, and the discovery scientists who could benefit from those insights. In the meantime, Glaxo plans to make some job cuts as a result of the R&D realignment.

The move has caused considerable head scratching in the discovery world. Wasn't it Glaxo that announced that it wanted scientists to work in smaller teams called Drug Performance Units? And weren't the PDUs all about advancing good work more swiftly, essentially creating more of a race horse environment where top performing teams would be rewarded and under-performing teams would set aside spare time for updating their resumes?

- here's GSK's release on the new unit
- read the report from the Wall Street Journal