About this Author
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

Chemistry and Drug Data: Drugbank
Chempedia Lab
Synthetic Pages
Organic Chemistry Portal
Not Voodoo

Chemistry and Pharma Blogs:
Org Prep Daily
The Haystack
A New Merck, Reviewed
Liberal Arts Chemistry
Electron Pusher
All Things Metathesis
C&E News Blogs
Chemiotics II
Chemical Space
Noel O'Blog
In Vivo Blog
Terra Sigilatta
BBSRC/Douglas Kell
Realizations in Biostatistics
ChemSpider Blog
Organic Chem - Education & Industry
Pharma Strategy Blog
No Name No Slogan
Practical Fragments
The Curious Wavefunction
Natural Product Man
Fragment Literature
Chemistry World Blog
Synthetic Nature
Chemistry Blog
Synthesizing Ideas
Eye on FDA
Chemical Forums
Symyx Blog
Sceptical Chymist
Lamentations on Chemistry
Computational Organic Chemistry
Mining Drugs
Henry Rzepa

Science Blogs and News:
Bad Science
The Loom
Uncertain Principles
Fierce Biotech
Blogs for Industry
Omics! Omics!
Young Female Scientist
Notional Slurry
Nobel Intent
SciTech Daily
Science Blog
Gene Expression (I)
Gene Expression (II)
Adventures in Ethics and Science
Transterrestrial Musings
Slashdot Science
Cosmic Variance
Biology News Net

Medical Blogs
DB's Medical Rants
Science-Based Medicine
Respectful Insolence
Diabetes Mine

Economics and Business
Marginal Revolution
The Volokh Conspiracy
Knowledge Problem

Politics / Current Events
Virginia Postrel
Belmont Club
Mickey Kaus

Belles Lettres
Uncouth Reflections
Arts and Letters Daily
In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

In the Pipeline

« Various Links Of Stuff | Main | We Were Ahead of the Crowd »

September 20, 2012

Roche: Manhattan Instead of Cambridge

Email This Entry

Posted by Derek

When Roche announced that they were moving their remaining East Coast R&D out of Nutley (NJ), I (and others) thought that the Boston area was surely the front-running location. But we were wrong: they're moving to Manhattan. More specifically, it's Murray Hill, near the NYU Medical Center. Cue the speculation about NYC becoming a biotech R&D hub. . .

Comments (27) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business and Markets


1. John Wayne on September 20, 2012 12:36 PM writes...

There is nothing like Manhattan to make Boston's real estate market seem reasonable. Otherwise, an interesting choice.

Permalink to Comment

2. Movin' on up on September 20, 2012 1:20 PM writes...

What a reasonable move...cut research costs and liabilities, upgrade to a deluxe "apartment" in the sky. If I'm not mistaken, most of the "researchers" who were spared had overseen late-stage clinical development/paper-pushing rather than wet chemistry or biology. Perhaps the lucky survivors will get salary boosts befitting the glamorous Manhattan lifestyle.

Permalink to Comment

3. anaon on September 20, 2012 1:23 PM writes...

Cushy high rise apartments for the bigwigs, while outsourcing all of the real work to Banglore or some other Chindia cost center, I suppose?

Permalink to Comment

4. Anonalso on September 20, 2012 1:24 PM writes...

I still do not understand this. Cost of real estate, etc. on the east coast -- VERY HIGH.

Cost of real estate in fly overs -- VERY CHEAP.

If you do good science people will want to work there.

I am so glad I live in a flyover doing good science.

Permalink to Comment

5. Am I Lloyd peptide on September 20, 2012 2:40 PM writes...

The dysfunctional Roche replacing the once glorious but now dysfunctional Bell Labs in Murray Hill. Talk about bleak futures.

Permalink to Comment

6. Anon anon anon on September 20, 2012 3:13 PM writes...

Hi Anonalso,

People have pursuits other than science. I enjoy city living: I like walking to work, living in an international area, with film festivals and art and good restaurants. Given the choice, I'd rather do good science on the coasts.

Permalink to Comment

7. @4 Anonalso on September 20, 2012 3:17 PM writes...

Agreed. It's ironic that some of the best pre-mega-merger pharma companies were located in flyover country: Upjohn (Kalamazoo, MI), Parke-Davis (Detroit, MI), Searle (Skokie, IL).

One notable fact: Roche Diagnostics, a very profitable division of the company, has main R&D operations in Indianapolis.

Permalink to Comment

8. Barn Stormer on September 20, 2012 4:04 PM writes...

How does moving to one of the most expensive real estate markets in the world help anything?

Can you imagine the hellish fees for waste disposal/safety in Manhattan. Salaries will have to be higher as well to accommodate inflated rents.

Very confusing...

Permalink to Comment

9. CR on September 20, 2012 4:34 PM writes...

I highly doubt that many of the scientists will be actually living in Manhattan; and those that do will be by choice as NJ Transit can get anyone into the city. In fact, since they are moving operations from Nutley to Manhattan, most people will simply jump on a train - rather than having the company relocate the 200 or so up to Boston.

Permalink to Comment

10. startup on September 20, 2012 4:37 PM writes...

I am siding with those who say that this is not about biotech R&D hubs but about the upper level management's desire to reside in Manhattan.

Permalink to Comment

11. nj transit on September 20, 2012 5:57 PM writes...

Just want to point out that moving from Nutley to Manhattan means that people (scientists and upper mgt, who could have easily already lived in Manhattan and reverse commuted) will probably just alter their commutes, versus moving to Massachusetts...

Permalink to Comment

12. newnickname on September 20, 2012 6:20 PM writes...

I remember when Hybridon, Paul Zamecnik's antisense company, relocated from Worcester (MA) to Cambridge (MA). At the time, they had around 200 people who went from an easy Worcester commute to having to fight the morning and evening Boston rush hours. That was a real antisense move! The people I know hated it. (The CEO lived in Newton and thought it was a great idea.)

Hybridon didn't last long after the move. Their building on Memorial Drive became the Cambridge home of Pfizer.

Permalink to Comment

13. Devices R Us on September 20, 2012 6:35 PM writes...

Wasn't Bell Labs in Murray Hill NJ, not in NY.

Permalink to Comment

14. anon on September 20, 2012 6:42 PM writes...

@13, that is correct. Bell Labs was in NJ.

Permalink to Comment

15. anonymous on September 20, 2012 7:17 PM writes...

Lilly, Indianapolis I presume?????

Permalink to Comment

16. Anonymous on September 20, 2012 7:21 PM writes...

Big pharmas no longer need scientists. What they need in R&D are project managers...those who prosumably will get ideas from universities and hand project over to CROs. All PMs need to do is to mingle with the big academic fish, and whip them poor asses in China. The move to Manhattan made perfect sense. You can even call it innovative!

Permalink to Comment

17. Anonymous on September 20, 2012 7:32 PM writes...

Many Roche Nutley employees live north, west and south of Nutley. I guarantee that either way, these people won't be happy with the will suck. Just having to gett off at Penn station and waiting for a bus or even walking from 7th ave to FDR will suck in a big way especially in the winter!!! OK, they survived the nutley closure and have a job but the commute will be hell!

Permalink to Comment

18. Esteban on September 20, 2012 7:44 PM writes...

Imclone, now part of Lilly, still had lab space in Manhattan last I'd heard, so it's not unprecedented. All the better for hobnobbing with Martha Stewart and the like.

Permalink to Comment

19. Anon on September 20, 2012 8:21 PM writes...

KCN to Rice is official -

Permalink to Comment

20. rcyran on September 21, 2012 9:34 AM writes...

@13 Bell Labs started in NYC on West St and then moved to Murray Hill and a couple of other places
in NJ

Their old building in Manhattan is quite pretty.

Permalink to Comment

21. Anonymous on September 21, 2012 2:22 PM writes...

Approximately 3 or 4 years ago Roche announced a new 5 year plan for research at Palo Alto. Soon afterwards it announced that the Palo Alto site would be closing, but people would be given a chance to bid on jobs in Nutley or a new group that would be housed in the Genentech facility. Next they changed their minds and there would be no new facility at Genentech, but some of these people were moved to Nutley and Nutley would be a major research site. (Unfortunately the North American business site would be transferred from Nutley to Genentech, but a handful of people were able to transfer.) About 18 months later, Nutley was downgraded to a minor research site and about 900 people lost those jobs. Some of these people had moved from Palo Alto to Nutley. About a year later they announced that the Nutley site would close, which would eliminate about 1000 jobs, some of these were the rest of the people who had moved from Palo Alto. Now they are going to open a new facility about 15 miles east of the old Nutley campus in Manhattan???
More and better research seemed to be accomplished when there was a stable and reassuring environment, not this type of mess.

Permalink to Comment

22. Anonymous on September 21, 2012 4:26 PM writes...


My guess is you are a current employee...I'm a former one who got out early in the 2010 layoff. Move on, don't look back. That place is/was a moronic excuse for drug discovery. Roche management has about as much forward looking capability as a tape worm LOL. There are much better places out there...period. In the end everyone gets a job and finds their way. I landed an awesome position with a very significant increase in pay etc. Keep plugging away and you'll find something great...

Permalink to Comment

23. Anonymous on September 21, 2012 5:58 PM writes...

Cambridge Rocks! My sources tell me that Roche was sniffing around here looking for space. Perhaps another bogus decision of the Roche management to stay around NYC. Let's give it 2 yrs and see where they move guess is they'll end up moving to the Boston/Cambridge area and will pay much much more just like their Genetech aquisition fiasco. Remember, way back they owned a very sig. portion of GNE but then proceeded to sell it...only to buy it back 15+ years later at a major premium. Intelligence isn't Roche's strengh.....

Permalink to Comment

24. Roche Insider on September 21, 2012 8:31 PM writes...

The real reason Roche is moving the group to NYC is that they do not have a long term plan for it. The writing is on the wall. i.e. the place will close in a couple of years when Roche cuts the whole research arm called pRED, to keep Genentech (or gRED) safe and the cost down.

Permalink to Comment

25. Anonymous on September 22, 2012 5:34 AM writes...

I am glad that you were able to find a new job, several people that I know who lost jobs in 2010 are still looking.
My guess is that you came to Roche Nutley after the old bldg. 1 was knocked down and the monstrosity that is bldg.123 was built. I worked at Nutley for over 20 years. I also lost my job in 2010 and I have moved on. Thank you for the kind encouragement.
Unfortunately you seem to miss my point, when you look at the various moves and continuous restructuring that occurs it seems to discourage productivity more than anything else. When you just layout the whole series of events over the years, it is very difficult to see a cogent, reasoned process occurring. But the people responsible for making these decisions just go on getting very well compensated for their mistakes. Pascal Soriot is the most recent example of this. He has moved on to AstraZeneca and in the articles that I have seen he is credited with the great integration of Genentech and Roche.
Unfortunately what I see as gross mismanagement is occurring not just at Roche and not just in Pharma, but throughout industry.
I think that Katie Goodman’s song describes the situation. Be forewarned it contains the F-word, but no Gordon Ramsey.

Permalink to Comment

26. Anonymous on September 22, 2012 8:34 PM writes...

Roche launched the center to keep a few jobs for the chiefs, and create the impression that they still care about pRED. The reality is that it will not lost. It is much easier to unload the place if they just need it for a couple of years.

Permalink to Comment

27. Anonymous on September 24, 2012 6:52 PM writes...


That link you posted is funny as $$%@ and accurately describes what went on over in Nutley....especially in Med. Chem!!!

Permalink to Comment


Remember Me?


Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):

The Last Post
The GSK Layoffs Continue, By Proxy
The Move is Nigh
Another Alzheimer's IPO
Cutbacks at C&E News
Sanofi Pays to Get Back Into Oncology
An Irresponsible Statement About Curing Cancer
Oliver Sacks on Turning Back to Chemistry