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GlaxoSmithKline to close Cambridge vaccines lab

The British drug giant GlaxoSmithKline PLC said Thursday that it will shut a recently acquired vaccines lab in Cambridge and move 150 jobs to a new global research-and-development center being set up in Rockville, Md.

The move is the latest in a series of recent biopharma research cutbacks in the Boston area. Last month, Merck & Co. and AstraZeneca PLC disclosed plans to shed about 200 employees from antibiotics research programs in Lexington and Waltham, respectively. Sanofi SA said it was paring about 100 jobs, and Pfizer Inc. is cutting an unspecified number in Cambridge.

Glaxo, which completed its $7.1 billion purchase of Novartis AG's vaccines business last month, will consolidate research now done in Cambridge and Philadelphia at the vaccine research site in Maryland. The center will be on a campus that already houses a Glaxo manufacturing plant. The campus will expand to 1,000 employees from 400 by next year.


"We're very pleased that we're going to be able to bring all of our US scientists in one place to concentrate on vaccines research and development," said spokeswoman Melinda Stubbee.

Glaxo became the world's largest vaccine maker after the Novartis acquisition, with about 30 percent of the market and 20 vaccines under development. Among other projects, Glaxo is working with the National Institutes of Health on an experimental Ebola vaccine.

Stubbee said many employees in Cambridge and Philadelphia will be offered jobs in Rockville. New researchers will also be hired there.

Robert Weisman can be reached at robert.weisman@globe.com.