- Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk announced Thursday plans to expand its research and development operations in the greater Boston area by adding new facilities and creating hundreds of jobs.
- The move is meant to cement Boston and surrounding Massachusetts cities like Lexington, Cambridge and Watertown as the U.S. hub for Novo’s R&D work. As part of that aim, the company also said it will transfer lab-based discovery activities from Seattle to other locations, as well as close its R&D facility in Indianapolis. Novo estimates those changes will result in the elimination of about 100 positions.
- Of the over 200 jobs Novo expects to create through the Boston expansion, more than 150 will be lab and clinical development roles based in Lexington and Watertown. Last year, the company began converting a 100,000-square-foot space near its existing facilities in Lexington. According to Novo, the space includes a “state-of-the art” lab, and will be home to its oral formulation units and R&D related to RNA interference.
Novo is arguably best known for diabetes medicines like Ozempic and Rybelsus and, more recently, the in-demand obesity treatment Wegovy.
Yet, over the past few years, the Denmark-based company has used deals to branch into different research areas and technologies. In late 2021, for example, it agreed to acquire an RNA interference specialist, Dicerna Pharmaceuticals, for north of $3 billion. It made another purchase less than a year later, buying Forma Therapeutics for just over $1 billion.
Novo’s pipeline of drug programs, while still heavily leaning toward diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease, now also includes experimental treatments for a common liver illness known as NASH, as well as rare disorders like hemophilia, sickle cell and alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency.
With its Boston expansion, Novo appears to be tailoring research operations to better suit this pipeline. Many of the new jobs created will be involved in data science, biology and chemistry, but some will also focus on RNA interference R&D.
“With today’s announcement, we are committing to further expansion and to having a major life sciences presence in the Boston area, to support pipeline expansion into new modalities, with the ultimate goal of delivering new innovative medicines to people living with chronic diseases,” said Marcus Schindler, Novo’s chief scientific officer and executive vice president for research and early development, in a statement.
Novo said the new facilities in Lexington will have more than 80,000 square feet of existing lab and office space for use by R&D groups also located in the area.
As for its other locations, Novo anticipates that around 20 positions in Indianapolis will be lost, along with roughly 80 more in Seattle. The company will continue to operate out of Seattle, though, particularly in areas like digital therapy, data science and artificial intelligence.
Novo noted that its stem cell therapy work will continue to be based out of Fremont, California, where it has a site specifically dedicated to the manufacturing of such treatments.