Swiss drug giant Roche has unveiled plans to close its 80 year old research and development site in Nutley, New Jersey, a move which expected to result in a cull of around 1,000 positions. 

The Basel, Switzerland-based group said the decision is part of a plan to consolidate its research and early development activities at existing sites in Germany and Switzerland, which will focus on oncology, virology, metabolism and neuroscience.

It is expected that an extra 80 positions or so will be created at its European sites to fully absorb the transfer of activities, but overall R&D expenditures are "expected to remain stable".

According to Roche chief executive Severin Schwan, the overall number of programs in clinical development at Roche has "grown substantially" in recent years, and streamlining R&D operations should free up resources that can be invested in promising clinical programmes while increasing overall efficiency.

In addition, Roche revealed that it is in the process of selecting a region on the East Coast of the US to focus on translational clinical research.

The idea is that the new site will support Roche's US-based clinical trials and early development programs and the firm's interactions with US regulators, as well as enhance its collaborations with partners. 

The new US East Coast Translational Research Clinical Center - which should house around 240 employees - is planned to be operational by early 2013, while the closure of the Nutley site should be completed by end of next year.

Garaud departing

Also under the reshuffle, Roche announced that Jean-Jacques Garaud, head of its Pharma Research and Early Development, will leave the company effective at the end of this month (June), with Mike Burgess, currently Global Head Oncology and Large Molecule Research, initially taking over his position on a temporary basis.

Roche said it will publish details of the expected financial impact of its planned measures as part of its half-year results on July 26, but also stressed that the financial outlook for 2012 remains unchanged.