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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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October 12, 2010

Most Picturesque Biopharma Location?

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Posted by Derek

I'm sitting in my conference, listening to a guy from Emerald Biostructures, the former deCODE. They're in a site out on Bainbridge Island near Seattle - I've talked with several people from out there, and they all talk about riding the ferry out in the morning, etc. Now, Cambridge is OK, but it ain't Bainbridge Island as far as scenery goes. (However, as someone who used to life and work in northern NJ, I have to be happy with what I have!)

So here's my question: what's the most scenic, envy-inducing location for a biopharma research site? For these purposes, we'll rank by natural beauty - if there's some biotech that's leasing the top floors of the Chrysler Building, and I sure don't think that there is, we'll take them up as a separate category. Nominations?

Comments (53) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Drug Industry History


1. Anonymous on October 12, 2010 9:19 AM writes...

San Diego. Seriously, just about everywhere in town is awesome, but take TSRI as the representative example if you like.

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2. Anonymous on October 12, 2010 9:21 AM writes...

Though not a biotech, the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla has an impressive setting and view of the Pacific, not to mention Torrey Pines Golf Course.

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3. cklibrary on October 12, 2010 9:23 AM writes...

I don't know if they qualify as biotech, but JAX Labs in Bar Harbor would top my list.

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4. SMJ on October 12, 2010 9:23 AM writes...

I have San Diego beat. At a conference I met a medicinal chemist that works at a company in Sienna, Italy. That is in Tuscany! Every once in a while I go peruse their job openings. Sigh!

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5. TexUte on October 12, 2010 9:24 AM writes...

University of Utah Research Park, in the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains overlooking the Salt Lake Valley, is very nice.

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6. Eraser on October 12, 2010 9:39 AM writes...

Well Lonza's main site in Visp Switzerland is bang in the middle of the alps. It doesn't get more picturesque than that I think.

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7. In Vivo Veritas on October 12, 2010 9:41 AM writes...

BMS Hopewell! We have cows!

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8. David P on October 12, 2010 9:53 AM writes...

Not a biopharma, but my lab as a grad student at University of St. Andrews overlooked the sea as well as the Old Course and Royal & Ancient clubhouse. Being on the east coast of Scotland, it was often clear and beautiful and (given the winds blowing off the sea) best viewed from a 4th floor lab with expansive windows.

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9. bbooooooya on October 12, 2010 10:08 AM writes...

Not strcitly biotech company, but Paramount Biosciences (Cougar, KERX, CHT) has office space, with a fantastic view of central park and the Hudson Vally, on abt flr 50 of a bldg on 7th ave near 52 in NYC. Carnegie Deli down the road does not hurt, aside from heart.

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10. LMH on October 12, 2010 10:12 AM writes...

To #8: you must be on some other east coast of Scotland where it is "often clear and beautiful." On my east coast of Scotland all it ever does is piss with rain. Send me a postcard!

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11. nitrosonium on October 12, 2010 10:13 AM writes...

RTP, obviously

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12. anon the II on October 12, 2010 10:46 AM writes...

A number of years ago, I lead a technology transfer program from our company to Chugai Pharmaceutical. We visited Chugai on a number of occasions. They had a location on Nancy Drive in the San Diego area without a memorable view. But the main research labs were in Gotemba, Japan, which is just about right at the foot of Mt. Fuji. The view there was pretty darn spectacular. Nobody did any work, they just stared out the windows all day. Just kidding, the people on the side away from Mt. Fuji did some work.

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13. Anonymous on October 12, 2010 10:56 AM writes...

LANL's biotech research is still somewhat limited, but the local scenery is unexcelled. Living on an isolated mountain plateau in the wilds of northern New Mexico might be tough on folks used to larger cities, though.

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14. You're Pfizered on October 12, 2010 11:01 AM writes...

Array BioPharma's Boulder site has a very nice view of the Flatirons.

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15. OrgMed on October 12, 2010 11:22 AM writes...

Park City, Utah.

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16. Anon on October 12, 2010 12:17 PM writes...

Anywhere near a hooters

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17. Chemjobber on October 12, 2010 12:32 PM writes...

Having not seen very many other places, I'm not sure that I can really comment. That being said, the biotech campuses around TSRI have a really, really nice view of the mesa and the beach area.

If you're stuck (?) in Sorrento Valley, though, it's just warehouses and sagebrush for you!

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18. Aspirin on October 12, 2010 12:33 PM writes...

Merck overlooks the charming, grimy, industrial town of Rahway.

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19. Anne Onn on October 12, 2010 12:35 PM writes...

The Novartis vaccines site in Siena takes some beating - the Tuscan countryside, what's not to love>

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20. Cialisize Me on October 12, 2010 12:37 PM writes...

Seattle, WA. Several locations:

1. Downtown/First Hill-- Views of Mt Rainier and the harbor with easy mass transit access. Plus vibrant urban scene.

2. South Lake Union. Shores of Lake Union with floatplanes in and out. Plus you can access the 1 mile long toy streetcar (some profanely call it the SLUT-South Lake Union Trolley)

3. Bothell--Well, not so much, but there *are* a lot of trees and a salmon stream, and, well, Canyons Restaurant 8^)

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21. okemist on October 12, 2010 12:44 PM writes...

It's not Harrisonville, MO. But two years right across the street from Torrey Pines public golf course didn't stink! I was poor, but I could golf for $8.00, and my wife would meet me with a picnic dinner and we'd go a mile down the road to the state beach and watch the sunset with the hot air baloons overhead. San Diego will be hard to beat. The only problem was the weather never changed.

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22. pEvans on October 12, 2010 12:45 PM writes...

Another not strictly biotech, but OceanIT has research locations around the Hawaiian islands--not too shabby.

I work in Seattle, and from my office and various labs I see Mt Rainier, the Olympic range, the ferries crossing to Bainbridge that Derek mentioned, floatplanes landing on Lake Union, etc. I never tire of the views (especially since I can also see my neighborhood across the bay & my family's favorite parks and beaches).

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23. bbooooooya on October 12, 2010 12:48 PM writes...

"San Diego will be hard to beat. The only problem was the weather never changed"

True, but when almost every day is perfect, maybe that's not the worst

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24. Anonymous on October 12, 2010 12:56 PM writes...

we'd go a mile down the road to the state beach and watch the sunset with the hot air baloons overhead

And also watch the nudies down on the beach?

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25. Anonymous on October 12, 2010 1:38 PM writes...

Genentech, South San Francisco.

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26. Virgil on October 12, 2010 2:30 PM writes...

The Buck Institute in Novato CA takes a bit of beating for a research site... IM Pei designed building in a beautiful location.

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27. coprolite on October 12, 2010 2:34 PM writes...

My view is Fenway Park, so I'm a little biased, but I've always liked New England Biolabs in Ipswich (or Wenham?) Mass., and Woods Hole has a special place in my heart, but I can't swear any of those is close to a Hooters....

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28. MoMo on October 12, 2010 2:42 PM writes...

Yo Coprolite! You overlook Fenway Park too? We must be in the same building.

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29. Mark on October 12, 2010 3:18 PM writes...

Believe it or not, but Pfizer's site in Groton, right where the Thames runs into Long Island Sound is actually very pretty in the summer.


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30. Cole on October 12, 2010 3:54 PM writes...

Boulder, CO

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31. Wavefunction on October 12, 2010 4:12 PM writes...

Technically not a biopharma company, but the two Schrodinger offices in Portland and Cambridge have gorgeous views; across the river in Portland and all of old Boston across the Charles in Cambridge.

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32. Doug on October 12, 2010 4:14 PM writes...

Debiopharm headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland. The picture on their homepage is what you see out of their office every day (the Swiss Alps and Lake Geneva)

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33. drug_hunter on October 12, 2010 5:03 PM writes...

The prettier the location, the less work gets done.
(Sorry, I'm old school.) By that definition, Rahway is surely the best possible location for a drug company. Garden State Brickface & Stucco on Route 1 -- and the jail -- heavenly.

But I would love to work in the swiss alps or tuscany...

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34. Handles on October 12, 2010 5:49 PM writes...

Maybridge used to have a recruitment ad on their website featuring a gorgeous shot of Tintagel Head and the legend "would you like to work here?".

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35. partial agonist on October 12, 2010 8:44 PM writes...

Bozeman Montana has a few tiny biotechs. If they are near Montans St. U., it's pretty scenic

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36. Cyrus the Great! on October 12, 2010 9:56 PM writes...

It has to be Genentech!
Over looking the Bay... inspiring to discover a new drug! (on this survey I guess most people missed this point!)

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37. Ted on October 13, 2010 3:08 AM writes...

Please also rank the UGLIEST SITES (its like looking for active compounds but also the inactive ones, in order to build a good SAR). To start with, AstraZeneca Charnwood...

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38. A Nonny Mouse on October 13, 2010 4:09 AM writes...

I would have thought that any place with jobs was the best place nowadays........

Also, Maybridge is disgusting, set in an old slate quarry.

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39. Mark on October 13, 2010 6:55 AM writes...

Syntex/Roche in Palo Alto was a beautiful campus, great weather (almost as good as San Diego) and many amenities

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40. Petros on October 13, 2010 7:36 AM writes...

In the UK many sites used to be in old country houses:

Stoke Court (Miles/Bayer/Argenta/Pulmagen) where Thomas Gray wrote his Elegy in a Country Churchyard

The Frythe (SK&F) where H1 antagonists were developed, and plagued by peacocks.

Brockham Park (Beecham), where Amoxicillin and augmentin were devised.

Erl Wood Manor (Lilly)

Alderly Edge (ICI/AZ) where beta blockers were developed.

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41. JB on October 13, 2010 7:54 AM writes...

Actually, the Broad rents the offices on the top floor of 5 Cambridge Center (above Google) in Kendall square, so that has a pretty good view of the river and Boston skyline, especially for 4th of July.

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42. dearieme on October 13, 2010 8:57 AM writes...

Not biotech, but I several times enjoyed the trip across the water at Amsterdam to the Shell labs.

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43. Chris P on October 13, 2010 9:46 AM writes...

I will second the University Research Park in Salt Lake City, Utah (SL UT if you want to be saucy). It has four seasons [not just wet & dry like Roche Palo Alto], is adjacent to a botanical garden and concert venue (Red Butte Garden), and has a bike/hiking trail just up the hill. Sitting up on the hill, you can see the storms come over the Oquirrh Mountains before they crash up against the mountains to the south.

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44. Cloud on October 13, 2010 10:35 AM writes...

I was sort of amused by all the nominations for my location (San Diego, up on the Torrey Mesa near the golf course). Sure, it is nice, but I guess I'm used to it and I didn't even think of nominating San Diego when I read the original post.

But then, as I drove from work to pick up my kids at day care yesterday, I saw two dolphins playing in the waves off Torrey Pines State Beach.

So yeah, I guess you're right. It IS pretty nice here.

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45. Anonymous on October 13, 2010 12:16 PM writes...

@37: Totally disagree with the disparaging words about AZ Charnwood. The view north from the PR&D building is over a well-travelled canal and the rolling countryside beyond. I certainly enjoyed it.

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46. hibob on October 13, 2010 2:28 PM writes...

#1, #2: TSRI: you forgot to mention the view of the hang gliders lazing around over the cliff above the Pacific ... the floor to ceiling windows in the library don't exactly encourage concentration on whatever it is you're reading.

SIO and Salk have better looking buildings from the outside than TSRI, but I think you have to be a bit masochistic to appreciate some of the brutalist interiors at Salk.

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47. starless on October 13, 2010 3:33 PM writes...

Anywhere in Abkhazia, but you definitely need to build and change too much in this region to make this idea real.

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48. leftscienceawhileago on October 13, 2010 8:23 PM writes...

Is Paramount still around? Can't find any trace of them on the web. The websites devoted to the founder come across as a little dubious as well...

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49. Anon on October 13, 2010 11:23 PM writes...

Anywhere except New Jersey.

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50. marmot on October 14, 2010 3:07 PM writes...

#14 and #30 are bang on--Boulder, CO has spectacular scenery and great restaurants--lots to do there. If mountains are your thing, Boulder is the place.

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51. Anonymous BMS Researcher on October 16, 2010 9:00 PM writes...

In Vivo Veritas on October 12, 2010 9:41 AM wrote...

> BMS Hopewell! We have cows!

I'm at the BMS Wallingford site and have visited the Hopewell site many times -- there are indeed cattle grazing on part of the site. From time to time we all get an email message, "please stay away from those cattle, ESPECIALLY if you have recently been to a place where foot and mouth disease is common, we really do not want to be the vector."

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52. glinkst on October 19, 2010 11:18 PM writes...

Not exactly biotech, but Pfizer Animal Health in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Don't laugh, it is great if you like lots of water (sailing, windsurfing, fishing), quiet winter sports (x-country ski), and very cheap houses (courtesy of Pfizer).

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53. Anonymous on October 25, 2010 2:00 PM writes...

Pomezia, where Merck&Co had a beautiful site: 20 min south of Rome, 15 min from the sea, 1.5 h from skiing and 20 min from beautiful hills. The labs are still there...

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