4 Questions with Flavius Martin: Enhancing Innovation by Expanding Gilead’s Research Footprint
Stories@Gilead - January 17, 2023 - 5 min read
Innovation is at the core of Gilead’s 35-year history of life-changing medicines. Through bold and transformative science, Gilead has developed therapies that have brought about a cure for hepatitis C, helped to transform the treatment and prevention of HIV and provided breakthrough therapies for people with cancer. Today, our ambitions include delivering 10 or more transformative therapies by 2030 across virology, oncology and inflammation, and doing so in ways that ensure people who need these medicines can access them.
It’s this commitment to scientific excellence that prompted Flavius Martin, Executive Vice President, Research, to join the company in April 2021. As Gilead maps out its next decade, including plans for a new Research Center in Foster City, we talked with Flavius about Gilead’s history of innovation and plans for the future.
Q: As a relatively new leader, what were your impressions of Gilead when you first joined?
It was no surprise what I found here: excellence in medicinal chemistry and virology, plus strong platforms to build on to expand the pipeline. I knew that Gilead had discovered and developed molecules that changed medicine by preventing, treating and curing viral diseases that many people thought couldn’t be prevented, treated or cured. That type of drive and history translates to the passion and excitement that’s evident in the culture and part of our secret sauce for success. A company’s ability to cure and transform the course of diseases is very energizing, and here I found a Research team completely committed to doing even more by developing and delivering the next generation of life-changing medicines.
Q: Where do you foresee innovation leading Gilead?
Scientific research drives discovery at Gilead, and the potential of our future impact is unparalleled. Our teams are laser-focused on developing and advancing long-acting HIV treatment options, eliminating viral hepatitis and creating transformative therapies in oncology and inflammation. Growth in certain areas is essential. We are building internally as well as looking externally, such as our recent acquisition of MiroBio, a U.K.-based biotechnology company that hopes to restore patients’ immune balance through agonist antibodies. The unique platform technology that MiroBio developed has the potential to produce novel agonist antibodies targeting immune inhibitory receptors, which we believe may be the foundation of future therapies for a range of unmet medical needs in treating inflammatory diseases. Another notable partnership is with MacroGenics, to develop bispecific antibodies to treat cancer. Working with MacroGenics, we’re aiming to create potential new therapies for certain blood cancers, such as acute myeloid leukemia and myelodysplastic syndrome.
Collaborations with colleagues in Development, Pharmaceutical Development and Manufacturing (PDM), Commercial, Corporate Development, Legal and beyond are also critical and help provide the spark that ignites innovation. All of this research experimentation and collaboration across Research and with other teams requires ample physical space, which is why we’re embarking on the creation of a new Research Center in Foster City.
Q: What will the new Research Center offer?
The decision to build a new Research Center was a result of thoughtful analysis and driven by our company’s enterprise Master Plan. A key tenet of the Master Plan is to create an internal research infrastructure that catalyzes our ambitions in the three therapeutic areas. This new center will do just that by helping further accelerate and scale our ability to create new solutions to serious medical challenges. The investment in the center was driven both by capacity and capability needs. Our Research teams in oncology and inflammation are expected to outgrow their current space on the Foster City campus in the near future. In addition, there are new technology capabilities we needed to bring in-house. The goal with this center is to address these needs, while creating a highly collaborative hub for Gilead’s community of researchers. The location for the new Research Center is slated to include approximately 175,000 square feet of flexible, digitally enabled lab space. By optimizing resources, more than 45,000 square feet of existing office space will also be reclassified as lab areas, enabling overall campus flow while creating increased lab concentration.
Q: How does the new Research Center complement our sustainable design principles and the needs of our scientific community?
Being socially responsible and environmentally sustainable is part of our DNA at Gilead. The Foster City campus is already heralded as one of the most sustainable biotech campuses in the world – evidenced by its use of renewable energy, large scale solar installations and eco-friendly infrastructure. Our existing research hub is one of the few LEED Gold research centers in the industry, something that makes us very proud. This new design will also be heavily informed by input from our Research teams, who will prioritize flow, collaboration and accessibility to the latest technologies. We don’t often get to build infrastructure at this scale, therefore I am looking forward to our Research teams partnering with the Corporate Operations team to ensure a distinct home that is socially responsible for our community of scientists. The new research center will build on our history of success in this space, redefine sustainability standards for research buildings and allow us to attract and retain top scientific talent.
Note: The new Research Building design is under scope and hasn’t yet been finalized.