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A grand opening for Lilly Biotech Center

The “next generation” in biotech development to fight diseases was ushered in last week with the grand opening of the remodeled 450,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art Lilly Biotechnology Center.

Housing nearly 200 scientists and focused on discovering, engineering and conducting early stage clinical trials of biologic medicines, the facility is at 10300 Campus Pointe Drive near UCSD.

In opening remarks at the Oct. 29 dedication, Tom Bumol, head of Lilly’s San Diego operations, hailed the new center as the culmination of a decade-long research explosion setting the stage for “unraveling the complexity of human biology.”

“At this site operating with labs providing cutting-edge technology and the creativity of our scientists, we’re designing new therapies for unmet medical needs in areas such as cancer, autoimmune diseases, Alzheimer’s and the pandemic of diabetes,” said Bumol. “We in the scientific community believe we have only scratched the surface with what is possible with biologic drug design: The potential is just so great.”

Steve Paul, Lilly’s executive vice president, science and technology, noted biotech is nothing new to the pharmaceutical giant, which introduced the first biological product — insulin to treat diabetes — back in the ‘20s.

“Our overall strategic goal is to sustain a pipeline of the launch of one new biologic-based therapeutic every year beginning in 2013,” he said.

John Lechleiter, Lilly’s chairman/CEO, shared the personal story of Dan, a 21-year-old cancer patient whose system was not responding to a cancer drug.

“He was told by his oncologist that he had failed to respond to a particular drug,” Lechleiter said. “He said to his physician, ‘I didn’t fail to respond to this medicine: This medicine failed to respond to me.’ Our compelling motivation is to provide successful outcomes for individuals like Dan.”

Noting San Diego is the envy of other cities with more than 50 research institutes and 500 life science companies ranging from start-ups to industry leaders like Lilly, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders said all of them share a culture of innovation.

“What San Diego offers all of them is a culture of collaboration between the research community, the business community and local governments,” he said.

Daniel Ryan, principal of Veralliance Properties which owns Campus Pointe, talked about the advantages of adaptive reuse of Campus Pointe and his company’s four “pillars” of design: livability, responsibility, productivity and artistry.

“Our philosophy is about creating thoughtful, sustainable facilities housing life science companies such as Lilly to allow them to do their work of finding cures for disease,” he said.

Lilly’s new facility employs a plethora of energy-saving systems including low-flow fixtures, reclaimed water for both landscaping and the building’s cooling system and use of recycled materials, even organic produce served in its bistro grown in an onsite vegetable garden.

Veralliance Properties of San Diego partnered with Prudential Real Estate on the project.

A press release on the project called it a model of environmental design, as it is in the final stages to become California’s first LEED-certified facility exhibiting the highest levels of environmentally sustainable water efficiency, energy usage, indoor environmental quality and material utilization.