The FINANCIAL — GSK will inaugurate its newest global vaccines research and development (R&D) center in Rockville, Maryland, further strengthening and expanding its vaccines presence in the USA. Up to 200 new jobs will be created at the Rockville facility, with GSK investing over $50 million in the next two years to continue to develop the site with latest state-of-the-art scientific research technology and equipment.
The facility will officially be opened by Sir Andrew Witty, CEO of GSK, Luc Debruyne, President of Global Vaccines, GSK and Boyd Rutherford, Lieutenant Governor of Maryland at an event with 150 guests, including state and local officials, senior representatives of health institutions, academic partners and GSK employees, according to GSK.
Luc Debruyne, President, GSK Vaccines, said: “We are delighted to be opening our new facility in Rockville, GSK’s first fully dedicated vaccines R&D center located in the US. Our investment here signifies our commitment to discovering and developing new vaccines across a range of pressing public health priorities, including those important here in the US. It places GSK at the heart of a dynamic and cutting edge bioscience hub in Washington, D.C. We look forward to fruitful partnerships and collaborations in this community to advance the science of vaccines, and help improve health of millions of people around the world.”
Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford of Maryland said: I am proud to join GSK today for the opening of this state-of-the-art facility. GSK is at the forefront of vaccine development, and we could not be happier that this global leader has chosen Maryland as the home for its new Research and Development center.”
Under the leadership of Dr Ripley Ballou, VP and Head of GSK’s global vaccines R&D center in Rockville, the facility will house a total of 12 critical vaccine development programs. This includes projects supporting its candidate shingles vaccine, which was filed for approval with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in October 2016. In addition, R&D programs for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a major cause of respiratory infections in young children and the elderly, Group B Streptococcus (GBS), a bacterial infection affecting newborns and dengue fever will be based at the site. Rockville becomes one of three global vaccines R&D centers for GSK, complementing the company’s existing global R&D centres in Rixensart, Belgium and in Siena, Italy.
Rockville is also the location of GSK’s proposed biopreparedness organisation (BPO), a dedicated, permanent organisation using a “no profit/no loss” model that will design and develop new vaccines against emerging viruses, bacteria and other pathogens that potentially pose a threat to global public health. GSK hopes the BPO will make an important contribution to improving global health preparedness.
The Rockville site, which was acquired by GSK in 2012 from Human Genome Sciences, offers proximity to current research partners, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and PATH, as well as important public health stakeholders. Since 2015, GSK has been preparing the site, transferring key staff and projects, installing equipment and modernising the site ahead of its official opening.
GSK’s vaccines business is one of the largest in the world. It has the broadest portfolio of the industry, making available 39 pediatric, adolescent, adult and traveller vaccines that protect against 21 different diseases including hepatitis, meningitis, influenza, pneumococcal disease and rotavirus. GSK has 15 candidate vaccines in development against diseases including shingles, RSV, Group B Strep and COPD exacerbations. Over 1.9 million vaccines are delivered by GSK everyday to people across more than 150 countries worldwide.