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Dec 15
Roger Palframan, PhD, Head of External Innovation & U.S. Discovery
Spotlight on Boston: UCB’s Investment in a Growing R&D Hub Furthers Our Ability to Deliver Patient Value

Boston means many things to many people – the city that sparked the American Revolution, the home of sports teams (and fans) that you love or not, the setting for a number of classic movies – but for me, and for UCB, it means potential, promise and innovation.

The UCB Boston Research & Development (R&D) Hub is the result of our concerted effort to grow our presence in global centers of research. UCB established our Bedford, Massachusetts facility in 2017, and our team across the state has grown to more than 125 people, who are driving our work in areas including targeted protein degradation, protein biochemistry, and structural biology to help us discover new medicines for treating patient populations with severe neurodegenerative and immunological diseases.

In my two decades working at UCB, I’ve watched as the company has honed its unique Patient Value Strategy, guided by the strong conviction that we must have a profound, positive impact on the lives of people with severe diseases. Continuing that mission means that we must constantly evolve and expand our capabilities and expertise – a process happening every day at the UCB Boston R&D Hub, which is quickly becoming a central catalyst for innovation that will play a major role in driving the next chapter of UCB. 

We are focused on growing our presence in Boston to work with, draw from and be inspired by a global center of biotechnology innovation and continue to deliver on our promise of delivering value to more than 3.5 million patients with severe diseases. We know that the best way to serve patients is to position ourselves at the forefront of research and development – committing resources and ensuring that we are in a position to benefit from the collective work of the research community. By expanding our footprint within Boston, we are engaging in more research conversations with leading universities, renowned medical institutions, and promising biotechnology, and pharmaceutical startups. 

Our presence in the Greater Boston area expanded significantly this spring as we completed the acquisition of Ra Pharmaceuticals, a clinical-stage biopharma company in Cambridge. This was a key part of strengthening our pipeline and R&D capabilities, bringing clinical-stage programs targeting the complement pathway and an innovative peptide discovery platform. 

Together, these two locations set UCB up for continued success – in growing our research presence within Boston, creating opportunities to attract top talent and organically growing our ability to realize our patient value mission. UCB employees at the Boston R&D Hub are already playing a direct part in developing next-generation therapies, programs, and research platforms. This work brings us closer to moving from symptomatic treatments to disease modification and eventually towards a cure.

To achieve our commitment to delivering solutions patients value, we relentlessly innovate – both in how we evolve our understanding of the patient journey and in our significant R&D investment to incubate new solutions. UCB is committing resources to grow and evolve the Boston R&D Hub over the coming years. We are developing and recruiting a talented team here, with expertise from discovery and development through to manufacturing and commercialization.  We know that we will be able to benefit from the hard work and expertise of leaders across disciplines who already call Boston home – or who see it as a promising community in which they can grow their own career. 

UCB’s Boston R&D Hub is a place for talent to thrive – designed to be agile, sustainable and innovative – combining biotech-like entrepreneurship with the long-term commitment and resilience to help patients in need.  We offer a unique opportunity for those who want to make a real impact on patients’ lives – our commitment to patients with severe diseases sets us apart and we know that the chance to play a tangible role in delivering life-changing treatments will soon make us a top choice in Boston for those whose talents and dedication to care align with ours. 

While the Boston R&D Hub is relatively young compared to the nearly century-long history of UCB, it represents a continuation and extension of that legacy. I can say from firsthand experience that we offer an unmatched opportunity to explore innovative approaches to research and development, to work directly with patient communities and to make a mark with solutions that make a difference. I see every day the ways in which we live our mission and empower our people – supported by our ability to be locally integrated and globally enabled by the UCB infrastructure – being agile and flexible in ways that let us take from and give back to the communities in which we live and work.   

At UCB, our greatest differentiator is people – the people we work for and the people we work with. It’s this combination that lets us thrive wherever we set down roots. I am proud of the work we are already doing in Boston and the great strides we’ve made together over this past year. As we look towards 2021, I am excited to see how we continue to attract new talent, grow our capabilities, and make deeper impacts on the lives of the patients we serve.

About the Author
Roger Palframan is Head, External Innovation and U.S. Discovery Science at UCB. Roger is responsible for building UCB‘s U.S. discovery capabilities and external partnerships to rapidly access and integrate transformational science and technologies. At UCB and previously at Celltech, Roger has held leadership roles in pharmacology and cell biology, and has led project teams in discovery research and in global clinical development. Roger received his BSc in pharmacology at King‘s College London and his PhD in immunology at Imperial College London. Roger was a Wellcome Trust Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Harvard Medical School. Roger lives with his family in Waban, MA.  

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