Hands across Kendall Square

MIT and Pfizer begin work on new partnership space

Kimberely Sirk
NEW YORK—The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) andPfizer Inc. threw themselves a pre-holiday party late last year to celebratethe physical manifestation of their recently announced research partnership.
 
 
The new, 180,000-square-foot location of Pfizer'sCardiovascular, Metabolic and Endocrine Diseases (CVMED) and Neuroscienceresearch units will be in Kendall Square at 610 Main St. in Cambridge, makinggood on a 10-year lease Pfizer inked in September with the university. Theunits will be housed in two buildings, with a total of 500,000 square feetdevoted to the partnership.
 
 
Also based in the Cambridge/Boston area are Pfizer'sBioTherapeutics Research & Development group and the Boston Center forTherapeutic Innovation.
 
 
This relocation makes Pfizer the second largestbiopharmaceutical company in Massachusetts in terms of number of employees.
 
 
The aim is to chart new progress in both research and drugdevelopment in the fight against significant illnesses. The agenda includesbrain research for drugs that could help slow or ward off Alzheimer's; newmedicines to ease the symptoms of diabetes and eventually prevent it fromoccurring; and improvements in one of Pfizer's core areas, drugs intended toreduce cardiovascular risks.
 
 
In February 2011, Pfizer announced its decision to focus thecompany's efforts on a smaller number of research areas where the potential forimpact is greatest, including in its CVMED and neuroscience research units.
 
In remarks at the groundbreaking ceremony, MIT PresidentSusan Hockfield said the complex would "magnify the creative intensity andcollaborative spirit" that marks biotechnology research in the MIT area.
 
 
The extension of MIT's working relationship with Pfizer, sheadded, would reinforce the strength of Cambridge's biotechnology researchcluster, which "directly supports our mission of advancing knowledge andeducating students in service to the nation and the world."
 
"We deliberately chose to move to Cambridge as a key part ofour research and development strategy in order to foster productivecollaborations between our drug discovery experts and the outstandingscientists of Cambridge's world-class institutions," said Pfizer WorldwideR&D President Mikael Dolsten in a prepared statement.
 
 
A Pfizer representative did not return a call for additionalcomment for this story.
 
 
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick also spoke at the event,remarking that the new research configuration underscores Massachusetts'forward-looking state of mind.
It is expected the company will be ready to move into thespace by the end of 2013. Housed in the buildings will be about 400 newbiomedical research jobs, representing a combination of relocated and newlyhired researchers in the life sciences. 

While the new facility is being built, the CVMED researchunit will be based in an interim space at Pfizer's location at 620 Memorial Dr.in Cambridge. The neuroscience unit also will relocate to interim space inCambridge in the second quarter of 2012.
MIT's research facilities near the site include the PicowerInstitute for Learning and Memory, the McGovern Institute for Brain Research,the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University and the MIT-affiliatedWhitehead Institute for Biomedical Research.
The site will also offer 10,000 square feet of retail spaceon Main Street and an underground parking garage.
 
 
Hockfield underscored the significance of the new venture byremarking that, "Kendall Square has more biotech and IT firms per square milethan any place on the planet. That's why we're absolutely delighted thatKendall Square will now be home to Pfizer's research labs."



Kimberely Sirk

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