By John Miller
ZURICH (Reuters) - Novartis is closing some of its research operations in Switzerland and China and cutting 175 jobs, part of the Swiss drug maker's effort to centralize control over its drug discovery programs and contain costs.
Novartis, which employs 120,000 globally, is also relocating its tropical disease research arm from Singapore to California.
The Basel-based company is consolidating research oversight within its Swiss headquarters and the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research (NIBR) near Boston, now headed by Jay Bradner.
"The creation of a unified early discovery research group based in Basel, Switzerland and Cambridge, Massachusetts, will be closely integrated with NIBR's drug discovery teams around the world," Novartis said in a statement.
Additionally, Novartis is creating two new "centers of excellence" for bio-therapeutic research in Basel and Cambridge to explore new therapies derived from living organisms to combat disease.
In the process, 73 positions will be eliminated with Novartis's closure of its Esbatech facility near Zurich.
Novartis also will shut down its Shanghai biologics group, shedding its 18 positions, but will continue with the bulk of activities at its newly opened $1 billion campus in the Chinese city where 500 people work in research and development.
"The NIBR research and development center in Shanghai is established to discover and develop new therapies that address the unmet medical needs of patients in China," a spokesman said.
As part of its new research strategy, Novartis said it is creating 20 to 25 new positions at its Basel headquarters.
Additionally, Novartis will relocate its Institute for Tropical Diseases from Singapore to a facility near San Francisco, California, that now houses NIBR's infectious diseases research team.
That means a loss of 84 jobs in Singapore, whose government helped found the institute in 2002 to combat diseases such as malaria. Novartis said malaria work will continue at the California location.
Novartis has been paring expensive activities since announcing a revamp of its pharmaceuticals division in May.
In August, Novartis disbanded its stand-alone Cell and Gene Therapy unit, eliminating 120 mostly U.S. jobs while inserting promising programs such as chimeric antigen replacement therapy, or CART, into its oncology business.
(Reporting by John Miller; Editing by Keith Weir)