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Fourth-quarter biotech job picture

A quarterly snapshot of job expansions, reductions and availability in the biotech and pharma sectors.

In October, Novartis announced restructuring plans that could eliminate up to 1,700 Swiss jobs over four years. The company would reduce about 1,000 positions across its manufacturing units and move management capabilities to service centers outside Switzerland, cutting up to 700 positions. Additionally, in the UK, Novartis plans to stop production at its manufacturing facility in Grimsby by the end of 2020 to consolidate production of high-volume active pharmaceutical ingredients. It will shut down the plant if a buyer cannot be found.

Merck subsidiary Merck Sharp & Dohme said it will build a new standalone vaccine and biologic manufacturing plant in Carlow, Ireland, next to its existing facility. The factory will create 170 jobs and bring to nearly 600 the numbers employed by the company in Carlow.

Lonza announced in December that it would buy a biologics facility in Guangzhou, China from GE Healthcare, giving the company a strategic base to respond to growing demand for high-quality contract development and manufacturing organization services in the country. The labs will house Lonza’s proprietary platforms for cell-line construction, process development, cell banking and pilot labs, and will also allow small-scale good manufacturing process (GMP) manufacturing equipped with GE Healthcare’s single-use biomanufacturing technologies combined with Lonza’s automation platforms for clinical and early-commercial supply. Lonza will offer its suite of antibody development services and manufacture GMP-certified batches by 2020.

Finally, London-based Orchard Therapeutics announced its plans to construct a 150,000-square-foot facility in Fremont, California for the manufacture of gene therapies. The company said that 100 full-time employees will likely be hired as in-house manufacturing ramps up. When completed, the facility gives Orchard the capacity to manufacture lentiviral vectors, which are used to deliver gene therapies, and cryopreserved cell therapy products.

Advertised biotechnology and pharmaceutical sector jobs in the job databases tracked by Nature Biotechnology were slightly up in the fourth quarter of 2018 (Tables 1 and 2) compared with the previous quarter (Nat. Biotechnol. 36, 1119, 2018).

Table 1 Who’s hiring? Advertised openings at the 25 largest biotech companies
Table 2 Advertised job openings at the ten largest pharma companies

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Correspondence to Michael Francisco.

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Francisco, M. Fourth-quarter biotech job picture. Nat Biotechnol 37, 194 (2019).

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