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GSK Will Build Shanghai R&D Center

Firm says basic research facility will rank as one of its largest in the world

by Jean-François Tremblay
May 30, 2007

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) says it will build a drug discovery center in Shanghai that, within a decade, will rank as one of its largest such facilities worldwide. The center's researchers will focus on developing treatments for debilitating neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's disease.

Jean-Pierre Garnier, chief executive officer of GSK, had revealed plans for the R&D facility in February without providing details. The company now says the center will be led by Jingwu Zhang, an immunologist who earlier was the research director of Baylor College of Medicine's Multiple Sclerosis Center, in Houston.

Zhang is currently the director of the Shanghai Institute of Health Science, an organization he founded that employs 150 scientists and is affiliated with the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Zhang holds a Ph.D. in immunology from the University of Brussels and did postdoctoral work at Harvard Medical School.

A GSK spokeswoman says the company has not determined where in Shanghai its new center will be or how many people it will employ. It will be among Zhang's responsibilities to make those plans. But GSK envisions that the facility will be an integrated drug discovery base that performs drug-target identification and develops pharmaceuticals through Phase I clinical trials.

A potential location for the center is the Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park, where many Western companies are setting up R&D facilities. In Zhangjiang, Novartis is building what had appeared to be, until the GSK announcement, the largest pharmaceutical R&D center owned by a Western company in China. The Novartis center will employ as many as 400 scientists (C&EN, Nov. 13, 2006, page 25).


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